What it means to be a ‘woman of distinction’

With nominations for this years Woman of Distinction Award due last week, last year’s recipients reflected on how the honor has impacted them.

Each year, the Woman of Distinction award is given to a student, a faculty member and a staff member in honor of Women’s History Month.

Butler defines a woman of distinction as an outstanding leader who has shown commitment and dedication to improving the Butler community. She is a woman who creates a vision and moves others towards that vision carrying herself with energy, integrity and love.

The student Woman of Distinction Award recipient last year was then-senior Christina Lear. She graduated with a double major in English and Spanish and a gender studies minor. She is now a participant of Teach for America.

Lear’s goal on campus was for people to see the connection between sororities and feminism and embrace it.

“Professor Swenson showed the award to me,” Lear said. “He called me the master of cross-pollination.

“I was able to bring together people who had very different ideas, and with feminism in sororities, I made that connection where others couldn’t see it.”

Lear found role models in the other two women awarded, and many female faculty members and professors on Butler’s campus.

“Make things better wherever you go,” Lear said. “Whether it’s something little or a leadership role, you should always be active.

“If you do that, you’ll have strong ties with your community, and it will effect you in becoming being a better person and leader in your college.”

Last year’s faculty member Woman of Distinction Award recipient was Elise Edwards, the director of the anthropology program at Butler.

Growing up, her female role model was ethologist Jane Goodall. Her role models now are her mother, grandmother and many of the women who work here at Butler.

“This award means a lot,” Edwards said. “It’s an award given to you by your peers so it’s by the most meaningful people who know you.

“I have so much respect for my peers and think that the majority of the women who work here are deserving of this award.”

Edwards said would not only tell women to look to their peers, but to look to themselves as well.

“I would encourage young women to both be confident about who they are and what they do, and to anticipate that things won’t be as equal in the outside world as they are here,” Edwards said. “Don’t be disheartened by it, and continue to not take no for an answer in whatever they are fighting for.”

Last year’s staff member recipient of the Woman of Distinction Award was Beth Couture, the Butler women’s basketball head coach who recently battled breast cancer.
Couture found her inspiration in her mother and many of her college coaches.

“It was a great honor to be selected by your peers as one of the distinguished females on campus,” Couture said. “It truly inspires me to be a role model to young females.”

Being a coach of young women gives her many opportunities to be a great influence, and their overwhelming success this year is a testament to that. They finished the regular season ranked second in the Horizon League.

“Chase your dreams,” Couture said. “Anything is possible as long as you are willing to work for it.”

This award has had an effect on her. She said it is extremely encouraging to all of those around her.

“[A woman of distinction] is someone who stands up for what they believe and fights for a cause that is close to their heart,” she said. “A women who can handle adversity and help others handle adversity.”


One Comment;

  1. Christina Lear said:

    Allison, thank you for writing about this award.

    A few clarifications I’d like to put out there:

    Professor Scott Swanson was the one who served on the committee and presented the award.

    I would also add that it may be misrepresentative to say that connecting sororities and feminism was my goal on campus. It was not a singular focus for me — just one small piece of many things I hoped to accomplish with my work in gender studies and my other endeavors.