Outstanding faculty, staff, and students recognized during annual Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women

Outstanding faculty, staff, and students recognized during annual Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women

The Susan C. Buckley Distinguished Achievement Award for Staff and May Brodbeck Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty were awarded to three exceptional women at the University of Iowa’s annual Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women on April 5.

Susan Assouline, director of the UI Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development and professor in the College of Education’s Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, and Corinne Peek-Asa, director of the Injury Prevention Research Center and associate dean for research in the College of Public Health, received the May Brodbeck Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty.

Gabriela Rivera, assistant director for diversity, inclusion, and student success at the Undergraduate Program Office in the Tippie College of Business, received the Susan C. Buckley Distinguished Achievement Award for Staff.

The celebration also honored Rachel Zuckerman with the Jean Y. Jew Award and eight other UI students who demonstrated a dedication to scholarship, research, service, leadership, and activism.

Susan C. Buckley Distinguished Achievement Award for Staff: Gabriela Rivera

The Susan C. Buckley Distinguished Achievement Award for Staff recognizes an outstanding accomplishment or a lifetime record of service and achievement.

gabriela rivera portrait

Gabriela Rivera

Gabriela Rivera was nominated for her work with underrepresented students on campus, which has guided many young women in making the decision to attend college. Rivera has worked with the West Liberty Enrichment Program, the Iowa Edge program, and the Storm Lake Scholars. She’s held the position of multicultural specialist with the Center for Diversity and Enrichment and now is the assistant director for diversity, inclusion, and student success with the Tippie College of Business.

Rivera has also held key roles in events bringing together Iowa Latinx high school students to learn about their heritage and develop skills for the future. In addition, her work with a taskforce helped to address policies and procedures for undocumented students, enabling many students to remain successful on campus.

A colleague says, “Gabriela approaches her work with great love, generosity, and a deep commitment to building leaders. She has an amazing skill of seeing an individual’s talent or interest and supporting them in taking on a leadership role that contributes to the greater good.”

Rivera’s impact as a mentor is clear from the comments of her students. A former student says, “Gabriela was always there with an ear to listen to my academic and personal conflicts while offering advice on how to navigate conflict resolution,” and, “I admired Gabriela so much that she was one of the reasons I decided to pursue a career field in higher education in student affairs.” Another student adds, “What I admire most about Gabriela is her dedication to help underrepresented students. Gabriela goes above and beyond for her students, and I personally thank her for my professional success.”

May Brodbeck Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty: Susan Assouline and Corinne Peek-Asa

Susan Assouline joined the University of Iowa in 1982 as a graduate assistant. She’s now a professor and the first woman with an endowed chair in the UI’s College of Education, and the director of the Belin-Blank Center. Her work in gifted education is acknowledged both nationally and internationally and has made a difference for many individual children and their families.

susan assouline portrait

Susan Assouline

Her work and mentorship of others in gifted education has also inspired many to pursue their own careers in the field. A nominator says, “As a teacher, a scholar, an administrator, and as a woman who adeptly models an impressive work-life balance, Dr. Assouline has served as both a role model and a mentor to other women throughout her career. I am just one example of the women Susan has mentored.”

In 2016, Assouline was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children, an award received after earning recognition from experts in the field. Another nominator says, “Dr. Assouline is collaborative, generous, and innovative, and consequently a mentor to many in our office. In a culture that disproportionately places men in positions of authority, it is not surprising that young women are drawn to Dr. Assouline’s professional success.”

As a role model and mentor, Assouline has shined and has helped shape others. “I followed her example of being a supportive colleague who has high expectations for those who work with her,” says a colleague.

corinne peek-asa portrait

Corinne Peek-Asa

Corinne “Cori” Peek-Asa is a nationally recognized researcher and scholar in the area of injury epidemiology. Her research on injury prevention has inspired others in her field and saves the lives of many every day, including teenage drivers, bicyclists, farmers, and people threatened by workplace violence.

Peek-Asa was named a Public Health Hero by Research America in 2010 for her work in injury prevention. As the president of the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research, she has engaged Congress and colleagues nationally. She also worked with the Working Group Theatre to develop a play, Out of Bounds, to help others understand the suffering caused by cyberbullying.

Peek-Asa serves as a role model for women and girls through her work, research, service, and advocacy. Many of her previous doctoral graduates grew under her mentorship and now hold faculty or other prominent international positions. “She is an exceptional mentor to young faculty, and especially women, in the College of Public Health and across the university,” says a colleague.

Peek-Asa’s work with nonprofits, government, and law enforcement has built bridges between the university and the communities it strives to serve, and another nominator added, “Her professional accomplishments, coupled with her devotion to her students and colleagues, make her a true asset to the University of Iowa community.”

Jean Y. Jew Women’s Rights Award: Rachel Zuckerman

Rachel Zuckerman, president of UI Student Government and an undergraduate in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been selected for the Jean Y. Jew Award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding effort or achievement in improving the status of women at the university.

rachel zuckerman portrait

Rachel Zuckerman

Zuckerman was nominated for the numerous leadership roles she has held on campus, including as a student member of the Council on the Status of Women, a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, an on-site coordinator for LeaderShape, and a leader within the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. She is also an honors undergraduate teaching assistant and a resident assistant in University Housing and Dining. A nominator adds, “‘Go make a difference!’ could be Rachel’s personal mission statement.”

Zuckerman’s most notable contributions have been through her work in UI Student Government, where she has continued to champion efforts to reduce sexual and gender-based violence on campus, and secured funding to enhance the UI’s cultural and resource centers.

“It is not an overstatement to assert that Rachel has championed positive change related to human rights across all lines of campus—among faculty, staff, administration, and students,” says another nominator.

Student Achievements

Eight students were recognized with scholarships to honor their work and commitment to women’s issues, diversity and social activism.

Isabella Senno, from Evanston, Illinois, an undergraduate student in journalism and mass communication and anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received the Adele Kimm Scholarship.

Corey Hickner-Johnson, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, a doctoral candidate in English and gender, women’s, and sexuality studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received the Jane A. Weiss Memorial Dissertation Scholarship.

Ariana Smith, from Cherokee, Iowa, an undergraduate in management and marketing in the Tippie College of Business, received the Wynonna G. Hubbard Scholarship.

Eileen Campbell, from Wayne, Illinois, an undergraduate in theatre arts and Spanish and Portuguese in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received the Margaret P. Benson Memorial Scholarship.

Fatima Jayoma, from Manilla, Philippines, and Iowa City, Iowa, a graduate student in the School of Social Work in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received the Margaret P. Benson Memorial Scholarship.

Noaquia Callahan, from Long Beach, California, a PhD candidate in history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received the Adah Johnson/Otilia Maria Fernandez Scholarship.

Ellen Kuehnle, from Mechanicsville, Iowa, an undergraduate in gender, women’s, and sexuality studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will received the Kristin K. Lippke Memorial Scholarship.

Jamillah Witt, from Waterloo, Iowa, an undergraduate in gender, women’s, and sexuality studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received the Kristin K. Lippke Memorial Scholarship.

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