‘Woman, phenomenally’ FSU honors exceptional women on campus

Associate Dean of Students David Baldwin presented the Phenomenal Woman award to Claire Ostrander, director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development. Photo by Allie Gath)

FSU’s annual Phenomenal Woman ceremony honoring female students, faculty and staff considered exceptional by their peers took place in the forum on March 7.

The ceremony and award are named after the poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Dr. Maya Angelou. A recording of Angelou reading the poem was played following the introduction.

Associate Dean of Students David Baldwin hosted the ceremony, assisted by Coordinator of Student Services Michelle Yestrepsky.

“It’s my favorite event of the year,” Baldwin said.

The winner of the award was Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development Claire Ostrander. She was nominated by SGA Administrative Assistant Nikki Curley and SILD Administrative Assistant Jill Hayward.

“I first met Claire when I was a first-year student at FSU and she was the advisor of the Student Union Activities Board, of which I was a member,” the first section of her nomination read. “I always heard people singing her praises, but wasn’t able to fully experience the effect she had as an advisor until I became a part of the executive board. … When something felt overwhelming, Claire was always able to break apart the pieces to make a daunting task seem more reasonable. I remember one of my friends saying that, after every meeting with Claire, she felt empowered and re-energized.”

The nomination statement also noted how hard-working Claire is and that many students choose to stay in contact with her long after graduation for her advice.

Ostrander said, “I was very honored to be nominated, especially this year. There’s been so much change in my life, personally, with having my second child and taking on a new role in the office with new staff. It validates when you’re feeling your worst that you’re still doing good work and that people can see that. I was very excited to win the award. Jill and Nikki, who nominated me, care very deeply about working together and the product that we put out.”

Susan Nicholl, executive director of the MetroWest Visitor’s Bureau, gave the keynote address.

Nicholl spoke about Scottish family crests and mottos. Some examples she gave were “Stand fast,” “Keep the faith” and “Push through difficulty.” She then jokingly lamented that the motto of her mother’s family is “If I can.”

“That’s the wimpiest motto ever,” she said. “There’s no determination there. … What I want to talk about is what determination is, and if I have it – which I’m going to claim that I do – how has it gotten me anywhere?”

Nicholl said that determination was not about single-mindedly pursuing a goal, but was instead about looking at each step in a journey and “saying, ‘Yes, I’m going to go forward with this step,’ or ‘Actually, I’m going to go this way.’”

She emphasized the importance of taking initiative, saying the common denominator in every job she held was “that I showed up … I was somebody who showed up to a meeting. I was somebody who dialed into a conference call. I was somebody who said, ‘Yeah, I’ll come to that meeting and we’ll figure out where it goes from there.’”

Ostrander said, “It was a very nice experience to be a part of the ceremony, especially if you heard all those other nomination letters. There were some great people and I’m very excited that everyone gets recognized. And not just a topical ‘You do great things.’ There were some really, really heartfelt nominations. Even more than winning, that meant a lot to me.”

Ostrander had been nominated in the past, but this year was “her time,” Baldwin said.

“It’s a great ceremony,” Ostrander said. “I think it’s a great way to get together as a community.”

[Editor’s Note: Nominees Brittany Cormier and Shayna Yacyshyn are members of The Gatepost editorial board.]

Phenomenal Woman

Margaret “Peg” Charbonnier

Executive Assistant

Brittany Cormier

Pelham Pals Mentor

Wet Feet Retreat Leader

Associate Editor of The Gatepost

Wendy Davis

Career Services and Employer
     Relations Office Manager

Sandra Dickie

Health Center Nurse Practitioner

Catherine Dignam

Associate Professor of chemistry

April Facchini

Transportation Services Coordinator

May Hara

Assistant Professor of education

Valerie Hytholt

Centers of Early Childhood
     Education Director

Susan Lanzillo

Director of Financial Aid

Pheobe Lin

Assistant Professor of psychology

Taylor Loesch

Resident Assistant

SGA Senate Chair

Patricia Lynne

Professor of English

Bailey McLernon

Supplemental Instruction Leader

Claire Ostrander

Director of Student Involvement

and Leadership Development

Sarah Pilkenton

Chair of chemistry and food science

Irene Porro

McAuliffe Center Director

Robin Robinson

Director of Education Technology

and Support

Claudia Springer

Associate Professor of English

Patricia Sanchez-Connally

Assistant Professor of sociology

Collectively-nominated student workers in the Dean’s Office:

Mary Ellen Thibault

Administrative Assistant of

Undergraduate Admissions

Rachel Trant

Assistant Vice President of

Finance and Business Services

Shayna Yacyshyn

Generation One Mentor

Design Editor of The Gatepost