A University committee honored "women of color" on campus Friday in a fourth annual luncheon commemorating the start of National Women's Month. Approximately 300 students, staff and faculty attended the two-and-a-half-hour luncheon, which was organized by the Women of Color Day Committee. The event included speeches, music and an awards assembly for minority women who have made outstanding contributions to the University in the past year. Assistant Provost Valarie Cade, University Life administrator Barbara Cassel, Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris and Asian-American Student Alliance founder Ellen Somekawa each received a plaque in honor of their work to better the status of minority women on campus. Medical School Associate Dean for Minority Affairs Helen Dickens, who has been at the University for approximately 30 years, received the luncheon's first-annual lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the medical profession. Future awards will be named after Dickens, who was the first black female obstetrician/gynecologist in Philadelphia. "You do and can overcome," Dickens advised the crowd. "But whatever else you do, follow your dreams." Several other students, faculty and staff also received certificates of appreciation for their service to minority women on campus. Lydia Hernandez-Velez, who is a vice president at CoreStates Bank in Philadelphia, gave an enthusiastic keynote address, encouraging the women to continue to persevere despite the "barriers" today's women of color face. "True to the vision of what's possible for the city, the state, the country and the world, we will find a way to break through the barriers that fall before us," Hernandez-Velez said. "We are there tomorrow and if [others] don't understand that, they're not going to be there tomorrow." The luncheon also included speeches by four other minority women who each described how it feels to be a minority at the University. The speakers talked about their struggle to be accepted as equal members of the community, saying it is that struggle which brings all women of color together. "We all share the same hopes, the same dreams, the same aspirations and we also share the same struggles," Roberson added. Social Work Assistant Professor Catalina Herrerias, College junior and Daily Pennsylvanian Executive Editor Helen Jung, and College senior Veronica Longboat Rodriguez also gave speeches.Comments powered by Disqus
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