Celebration of graduate women

Biennially, the Office of Graduate Education honors a cohort of Graduate Women of Excellence at the Celebration of Graduate Women.

Honorees are nominated and selected in a process based on their leadership and service contributions at the Institute, their dedication to mentoring, and their drive to make changes to improve the student experience.

In a celebration held on April 29, 2019 at the Samberg Center, honorees shared information about their path to MIT, their work and involvement in the MIT community, and their vision for the future through an informal poster presentation with a group that included nominators, department heads and other faculty, staff, students, friends, and family.

The evening’s program was uplifting, as Senior Associate Dean Blanche Staton welcomed the assembly and turned the floor to keynote speaker Danielle Wood, Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and former Graduate Woman of Excellence. Prof. Wood’s inspirational words spoke to the bumps in the road to her current position, and the importance of seeking help to overcome inevitable challenges and of maintaining a deep authenticity. She invited those gathered to share their joy “in being who I am” through a participatory “call and response” chant.

Many of the honorees generously provided a window not only into their backgrounds, but into challenges they had overcome and important aspects of their lives.

“Growing up,” one woman recalled, “I moved, a lot. Like, every three to six months. We would move without any notice. I would lose friends and have to start over and over again. Somehow, though, perpetual change allowed me to feel like loss was something I could overcome. It showed me that the disruption of change was temporary. It also showed me the only way to make friends again was to try. It armed me with the ability to calm chaos and feel comfort in ambiguity.”

Valuable guidance and inspiration were imparted to the attendees through the posters and in person. “Many of the issues we face are institutional, and deeply rooted; it’s easy to get discouraged,” one honoree observed. “While the larger problem may seem insurmountable, remember that you do have an impact on those around you. Encourage others to do the same, foster a community, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.”

Another honoree urged her fellow students, “Make sure you make time for yourself… It takes a lot of commitment to make time for yourself, but it’s so important.”

“No one can do it alone,” maintained another, “Build and maintain friendships — now and for the rest of your life.”

A third woman advised, “Don’t compete with your peers, collaborate with them. My father often says, ‘the only way to move up in life is to teach others what you know.’ People waste a lot of energy protecting their turf, which they could spend developing their ideas.”

Looking forward, the 2019 honorees unfolded various plans for the road ahead, envisioning paths that included public service, academia, and industry.

“I have learned a lot about how teaching and mentoring can impact young scientists,” said one, “particularly those who are not well represented in STEM. I hope that as a teacher I can work to reduce barriers to STEM education and serve as a role model to female scientists.”

Another shared: “I envision a world whose culture is built on compassion and understanding, where science is done out of curiosity and a desire to improve the condition of all living creatures… I hope to use my knowledge and position to contribute what I can, and convince others to do the same.”

The Graduate Women of Excellence celebration is organized by the Office of Graduate Education and made possible by the work of three Graduate Community Fellows.

2019 Honorees

Nicole Aponte Santiago
Scarlett Barker
Carina Belvin
Sarah Bening
Jennifer Braly
Agnes Cameron
Geeticka Chauhan
Huili Chen
Irene Chen
Karen Cruz
Paula do Vale Pereira
Margaret Dunne
Amanda Facklam
Allena Goren
Huma Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Christina Hernández
Shayna Hilburg
Megan Jackson
Summer Jackson
Grace Johnson
Emily Kehne
Akshata Krishnamurthy
Kristin Kurianski
Karen Leopold Cunningham
Devora Najjar
Yael Nidam
Shalmalee Pandit
Cadence Payne
Azucena Ramos
Kara Rodby
Beth Semel
Gabriela Serrato Marks
Emilia Simison
Raspberry Simpson
Elena Sobrino
Maya Stokes
Kavya Vaghul
Clara Vandeweerdt
Claudia Varela
Malvika Verma
Lisa Volpatti
Joyce Wang
Zi Wang
Caroline Werlang
Elise Wilcox
Randi Williams
Xijia Zheng
Rebecca Zubajlo
Emiko Zumbro

2017 Honorees

Giulia Agostinelli
Sahar Ali Dar
Ariel Anders
Raichelle Aniceto
Marjorie Cantine
Jenny Chen
Jane Choi
Alicia Chong
Arolyn Conwill
Claire Duvallet
Ariel Ekblaw
Veronica Foreman
Sarah Goodman
Tsehai Ariane Grell
Lisa Guay
Olivia Hentz
Julia Hopkins
Olivia Huang
Fatima Hussain
Caroline Jaffe
Amanda Kedaigle
Rebecca Kleinberger
Ina Kundu
Erica Lai
Emily Lindemer
Michelle Macleod
Mariana Matus Garcia
Gwen McKinley
Carolyn Mills
Julie Monda
Priya Moni
Kelsey Moore
Kelly Moynihan
Amaka Nneji
Kathryn Olesnavage
Angela Phillips
Novalia (Nova) Pishesha
Elizabeth Qian
Candace Ross
Shreya Saxena
Sarah Schwettmann
Natasha Seelam
Sunanda Sharma
Akshita Sivakumar
Emily Tow
Emily Truelove
Jessica Weber
Natasha Wright
Judy Qingjun Yang
Ying Daisy Zhuo

2015 Honorees

Nancy Aggarwal
Lena Andrews
Maria Paula Angarita Fonseca
Jessica Asly Artiles
Monika Avello
Renee Blackburn
Jennifer Brophy
Stephanie Buscher
Rebecca Canter
Jane Chui
Bianca Datta
Melissa Deas
Irene Dedoussi
Sema Ermez
Niaja Farve
Xiaojing Fu
Mia Goldwasser
Alexis Hope Gottlieb
Genevieve Gould
Alex Guo
Maha Haji
Sahar Hashmi
Laurel Heckman
Abby Jaques
Mina Kojima
Krista Loose
Sarah Luppino
Jennifer Ly
Katie Maass
Emily Mackevicius
Katerina Mantzavinou
Elena Mendez Escobar
Heena Mutha
Andriani-Ioanna (Nina) Panagiotidou
Marzieh Parandehgheibi
Izarys Rivera
Mareena Robinson
Emma Sedivy
Elizabeth Setren
Danya Sherman
Michelle Sing
Laura Stoppel
Sarah Tasker
Julie van der Hoop
Cecilia Viggiano
Isabel Vogt
Jenny Yi Wang
Ling (Kelli) Xu
Nataly Youssef
Zhao (Amy) Yu
Yangying Zhu

 2013 Honorees

Ingrid Bonde Akerlind
Allison Anderson
Ambika Goel Bajpayee
Pamela Basto
Whitney Bernstein
Emily Chang
Yi (Ellen) Chen
Emily Clements
Christine Curella
Kendra Desrosiers
Elizabeth George
Marzyeh Ghassemi
Lindsey Gilman
Qinxian (Chelsea) He
Sophie Horowitz
Christina Ignarra
Wardah Inam
Leyla Isik
Shelby Kimmel
Bonnie Lam
Alyssa Larson
Alexandria Liang
Whitney Lohmeyer
Sofia Lopez
Jingnan Lu
Sayalee Mahajan
Anne Marinan
Kara McKinley
Sreeja Nag
Annalisa Pawlosky
Priyanka Ramamurthy
Katherine Romer
Melissa Rosen
Layla Shaikley
Naomi Stein
Maria Telleria
Mitali Thakor
Zhiting Tian
Alexandra Toumar
Allison “Sunny” Vanderboll
Theodora Vardouli
Ermin Wei
Ashley Wessendorf
Sunny Wicks
Jennifer Wilson
Johanna Wolfson
Jean Yang

2013 Women’s Groups

Course 6 Graduate Women (GW6)
Graduate Women at MIT (GWAMIT)
Graduate Women in Physics
HST Women’s Group
Mechanical Engineering Graduate Association of Women (MEGA Women)
Sloan Women in Management (SWIM)
Women in Chemistry (WIC)
Women’s Graduate Association of Aeronautics and Astronautics (WGA3)
Women in System Design and Management (WiSDM)

The 2013 celebration was based on an earlier one that took place in May 2010, which also celebrated of 47 graduate women nominated by their peers, faculty, and staff. See the News Office article and photos here.

2010 Honorees

Amy Banzaert
Maria Berezina
Megan Brewster
Zenzile Brooks
Lynette Cheah
Alice Chen
Kimberlee Collins
Hoda Eydgahi
Miaoqing Fang
Shirin Farrahi
Kay Furman
Manijeh Goldberg
Nancy Guillen
Shayna Harris
Ingrid Heilke
Legena Henry
Christina Ignarra
Veena Jayadeva
Fan Jin
Joy Johnson
Rhonda Jordan
M. Flourish Klink
Hillary Kolos
Michelle Lustrino
Karen McCafferty
Retsina Meyer
Emily Miraldi
Amara Mulder
Carlijn Mulder
Sherrica Newsome
Sarah Nusser
Molly Patrick
Yoda Patta
Kristal Peters
Elizabeth Ramaccia
Liz Roaldsen
Alisha Schor
Sheila Seles
Anita Shukla
Ellan Spero
Carrie Stalder
Dawn Wendell
Jenna Wiens
Danielle Wood
Vanessa Wood
Clarissa Zimmerman
Danielle Zurovcik