Middle Tennessee State University recently honored four individuals for their efforts to uplift women as part of this year’s National Women’s History Month celebration, with a theme of “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.”
The 2023 Trailblazer Awards were presented during a kickoff ceremony at the Ingram Building’s MT Center on Middle Tennessee Boulevard.
The awards recognize members of the MTSU community, both on and off campus, who work to serve women. Winners are nominated and voted on by MTSU faculty, students and staff.
Maigan Wipfli, chair of the women’s history month committee and director of MTSU’s June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, served as master of ceremony for the awards presentation, which shared the stories of four members of the campus community.
“When I learned of the theme for this year, I was really excited. I think MTSU has so much to learn from our current and future storytellers, with such a robust media and entertainment department,” Wipfli said.
“Of course, not all of our storytellers are from that area. We have gifted women from all across the university who are coming together to celebrate such an amazing month. I’m very excited for the events we have planned.”
This year’s Trailblazer honorees receiving awards at the March 1 ceremony were Christina Cobb, assistant professor, Department of University Studies; Katie Foss, director and professor, School of Journalism and Strategic Media; Lori Huertas, risk management and insurance program coordinator, Jones College of Business; and a Future Trailblazer, student Hayden “Gracie” Sizemore.
Among other attributes, Cobb was lauded for being an “enthusiastic, energetic, kind, compassionate and highly qualified” instructor of mathematics who will modify her teaching methods to a student’s specific needs. Cobb launched a digital platform that “focuses on women’s empowerment through workshops and mentoring.”
Called “a powerhouse” in the classroom for her innovative approaches to teaching, Cobb said this year’s National Women’s History Month theme means “to tell your stories and be inspirational to other women. That way you can inspire them to be better, to be successful and help them along the way.”
Foss, a professor of media studies and author of multiple books, emerged nationally as a sought-after expert on the media’s handling of health and diseases at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her notoriety came following the publishing of her book “Constructing the Outbreak: Epidemics in Media and Collective Memory.”
Described by a colleague as “a forward-thinking woman who is friendly and kind, but also a force to be reckoned with,” the second-degree black belt said this year’s storytelling theme “means diversity in an array of different stories, of different experiences from different types of women across demographics and intersectional positions. … I think we need to look at the stories of the past, the present and the future.”
Huertas, an Army mom who’s pursuing her doctoral degree, was described as “a humble, empathetic, diverse higher education bilingual expert who mentors others by providing guidance, tips and solutions to business challenges.”
Also serving as chapter advisor to MTSU’s Gamma Iota Sigma insurance fraternity, Huertas said this year’s women’s history month theme causes her to think about “what are ways where we can leave a legacy where we’re remembered, on ways to impact others. For me that includes remembering the legacy of my mom, my grandmother and other noteworthy women, even at MTSU, the mentors that I’ve had.”
A senior from Vestavia Hills, Alabama, majoring in interdisciplinary media with a minor in film studies, Sizemore was praised for her work to “improve campus programs, including weekly film screenings, the annual student film festival.” She has “even networked with (Oscar-winning film production company) A24 representatives to bring their films to campus,” her nominator said.
Sizemore serves as film manager for MTSU’s Student Programming and Raider Entertainment, better known as SPARE, as well as vice president of the Women in Film campus organization. It provides “a safe place where we can work and we can create things together,” she said.
A complete calendar of 2023 National Women’s History Month events at MTSU is available at https://bit.ly/MTWomensHistory2023Calendar. More information on the programs is available at www.mtsu.edu/jac/nwhm.php.
For more information and for updates on 2023 National Women’s History Month events at MTSU, contact Wipfli at 615-898-2193 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)