The Due West Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) recognized 36 outstanding young women from Erskine College and Abbeville County high schools Tuesday at the 52nd Annual Student Recognition Dinner in the Bell Conference Room on the Erskine campus.
Mary Elizabeth Beardsley Land, a member of the Erskine College Class of 1990 who serves as director of the Abbeville County Library System and is an adjunct instructor of English at Erskine, was the featured speaker, beginning her remarks by noting that the day of the banquet, March 8, was being celebrated as the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day throughout the world.
“We’ve each been given an opportunity to make a lasting difference in the world,” Land told the students. “We have the power to achieve.”
She spoke about her own work in libraries and touched on the challenges facing public libraries today, with city and county governments seeking ways to trim their budgets. “Libraries serve everyone, from infants to seniors, from the rich to the homeless,” she said, and a significant number of people rely on the library for access to the Internet.
Land congratulated the honorees on their academic success. “You’ve made time when you thought there was no time,” she said. “When you start your career, you’ll need that determination more than ever.”
Urging students to be passionate about their work, she said, “You’ve got to want to do more than to be. You’ve got to want to act more than you want to be an actor, want to teach more than you want to be a teacher, want to heal more than you want to be a doctor,” and added, “You’ve got to find the joy in the process.”
Land said she has learned that “challenges come in places where you least expect them,” and even a successful person will fail at times. “It’s from these failures that I’ve learned the most. It’s from your failures that you’ll learn the most,” she said. “We can’t wait to see all you will achieve.”
Dr. David A. Norman, president of Erskine College, attended the banquet with first lady K.D. Norman and welcomed AAUW members and honorees.
Professor Emerita of Biology Dr. Jan Haldeman, who serves with Sarah Kennerly as the chapter’s co-president, gave a brief history of the Due West Chapter of AAUW, and Susan Beverly offered the invocation.
Pam Showalter introduced the speaker and presented certificates to students from Abbeville High School, Calhoun Falls Charter School and Dixie High School; Haldeman presented certificates to the Erskine College students.
The Due West branch of AAUW has sponsored the student recognition dinner since its establishment 52 years ago. Several current members of the Erskine staff, including resident directors Ruth Burton and Carole Hill, were honorees at previous student recognition events.
Erskine students honored and their subject areas were Kennedy Craig and Hannah Oates, art; Macy Rogers, Bible and religion; Kerry Fincher and Kristy Fincher, biology; Lauren Parrish, business; Megan Busch and Jocelyn Smith, chemistry; Brianna Prater, early childhood education; Kayla Lynch, elementary education; Elizabeth DeVault, English; Spencer Cain, health and human performance; Lydia Hill and Stephanie McCallister, history; Elizabeth DeVault, music; Meghan Cook and Catherine Howle, psychology; Annette DuPree, secondary education; and Victoria Custalow and Kristi Brault, special education.
Abbeville High School students recognized were Mary Bryan Collins, English; Katherine Lawrence, foreign language; Patricia Lawrence, math; Alexandra Costner, science; and Kimberly Willis, social studies.
Calhoun Falls Charter School students honored were Kiana Gilchrist, English; Holly Rudder, foreign language; Carly Powell, math; Sasha Williams, science; and Casie Evans, social studies.
Dixie High School students receiving awards were Alicia Herron, English; Jessica Hozey, foreign language; Erin Iannone, math; Samantha Campbell, science; and Caitlyn Standridge, social studies.