Ashley Lovett, a junior from Marlborough majoring in sociology; Eastern Connecticut State University alumna LaShawn McBride; and Christy Calkins, assistant program director of the Journey House in Willimantic, were named recipients of Eastern's 2012 Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Awards on March 28. "In just four short years, this award has become a cherished tradition at Eastern," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez as she opened up the ceremony. "We are an institution built on values. Among those are the values of inclusion, empowerment and integrity. I believe that protecting women's rights and recognizing women leaders is fundamental to upholding the values of our institution."
Teresa Younger, executive director of the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, delivered the keynote address. She encouraged the audience to model Grasso's career. "Push the limits and go one step further."
Lovett has committed her time to service both on and off campus. Currently a resident assistant in Niejadlik Hall, Lovett develops leadership skills and fostering personal self-esteem by volunteering at Journey House at Natchaug Hospital, a transitional living community for adolescent girls. "Nothing that I do feels like work," said Lovett. "I love every part of what I do."
McBride is a 1993 graduate of Eastern with a bachelor's degree in sociology and applied social relations. She has been employed at Eastern since November 1989, and currently serves as the coordinator of human resources programs. Recognizing the need for young women to develop self-esteem and leadership skills, McBride helped launch Females Excelling Maturing to Achieve Leadership Excellence and Success (FEMALES), a group of female students on campus. Since 2005, McBride has served as the FEMALES advisor. "Although the task isn't always easy, it is very rewarding to see the transformation of students from their freshman year up to when they graduate," said McBride.
Calkins is the assistant program director at Journey House. Through her leadership, the program has helped more than 90 girls achieve personal success through building self-confidence, positive self-image, healthy relationships, academic success, and management of anger and stress.