Women’s Center receives national recognition

Courtesy Photo / gvsu.edu

The Womens Center Marlene Kowalski-Braun and Jo Ann Wassenaar at the awards ceremony November 8.

Courtesy Photo / gvsu.edu The Women’s Center Marlene Kowalski-Braun and Jo Ann Wassenaar at the awards ceremony November 8.

Lizzy Balboa

Grand Valley State University was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) in recognition of its progression over the years, the number of programs it offers and the number of people that made it possible.

Jo Ann Wassenaar, associate director of the Women’s Center, said programs such as the Women’s Community Collaborative course, the food pantry, Women’s Issues Volunteer Corps and initiatives fighting violence against women all helped GVSU’s center stand apart from others.

Wassenaar has been working with the center since it first opened and was one of the representatives from the center who accepted the award at the Nov. 8 national awards ceremony.

Kathleen Underwood, director of the Women and Genders Studies program, nominated the center for the recognition. “From a staff of two in 2001 to six in 2012, this group of women has embedded the Center into the heart of the university through collaboration with faculty and staff, and created a feminist space for student development, challenging sexism as well as other oppressions,” Underwood wrote in her appeal to the NWSA.

She acknowledged the center’s connection to West Michigan nonprofit organizations, commitment to student learning through internships and the training of feminist leaders through the Women’s Center Ambassador program as just a few of the reasons she submitted the nomination.

Looking to the future, Wassenaar said she has hopes for new Women’s Center initiatives to grow. She said she would like to see some of its fresh programs expand, such as the study abroad trip to South Africa and the women’s leadership housing.

For more information about the center, contact (616) 331-2748.
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