October 13, 2006

SIUC gala honors role models, funds scholarships

by Greg Scott

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will honor women who have made significant and lasting contributions to their communities and professions with its third annual Inspiring Women Gala Saturday, Oct. 14, in the SIUC Student Center Ballrooms and International Lounge.

This year's honorees are Gayla Borgognoni of Carbondale, Yolonde Peterson of Marion, Janet Proctor of Golconda and Dixie Lee Travelstead of Du Quoin. Dr. Susan L. Nagele of Kitale, Kenya, will receive the 2006 Alumna Achievement Award.

"An Evening with the Stars" begins with a silent auction from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dinner and a program take place at 8 p.m., with a live auction following.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover all or part of the festivities taking place from 5:30 p.m. through at least 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, in the SIUC Student Center Ballrooms and International Lounge.


Gala proceeds benefit Inspiring Women Scholarships, awarded to SIUC freshmen and transfer students for academic achievement, leadership and extracurricular involvement. The scholarship program aims to encourage high levels of educational and professional achievement. Current scholarship winners will be honored at the gala as well.

Here is a closer look at this year's Inspiring Women.

Borgognoni has broken new ground on many fronts. She was the first woman broker in Southern Illinois, the first woman to offer investment classes at John A. Logan College and the first female member of the Rotary Club in Southern Illinois. She demonstrates a strong commitment to service in the community through her support of John A. Logan College, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Rotary Club of Carbondale, Carbondale Community Arts, Lights Fantastic, Business and Professional Women organization and the American Cancer Society.

She currently serves as first vice president and assistant branch manager of Wachovia Securities in Carbondale, having received her broker's license in 1975. She regularly hires and mentors local, young women who have an interest in business or finance and works with high school and SIUC business departments to teach classes, hire interns and help prepare young women for job hunting and interviews.

Peterson has supported the arts for more than 50 years. She has dedicated her life to bringing music and the arts not only to Marion, but also to all of Southern Illinois. Peterson served as a vocal music director at Marion area schools for more than 39 years and as a musical director at the First United Methodist Church in Marion for more than 42 years. She belonged to the Marion Civic Center Board for 32 years, the Friends Board of WSIU for six years, Fortnightly Club of Marion for 17 years, Women for Health and Wellness Conference committee for 20 years and Marion Main Street.

Peterson received the 1979 Greater Area Chamber of Commerce Woman of Achievement Award, the 2002 Mayor's Service Award and the distinction of Leader Among Us by the Marion Chamber of Commerce, from which she also received the Award of Excellence last year for her service to the performing arts.

Proctor, a trial lawyer and the first woman elected to the post of Pope County state's attorney, has donated her time and talents to people who cannot afford a lawyer. A woman of faith, she serves as a church faith leader and as an elder for the First Presbyterian Church in Golconda. She conducts adult Sunday school classes and is studying to obtain a degree in theology. Proctor aids senior citizens, traveling far and wide to assist them with problems related to health, food, abuse, extended care and social matters.

She plays an active role in her area's school system, working with fourth-graders to help them understand the court system by role-playing. She also serves as a community member of Pope County's school improvement planning committee and has helped with an area school's Red Ribbon Week anti-drug campaign.

Travelstead exhibits an extraordinary commitment to community involvement. Her service includes church, community schools, charities and work for area children. Travelstead has worked with the United Way, Du Quoin Youth Club, John A. Logan Foundation, Therapy Learning Center,

Southern Illinois Arts Council, Du Quoin Indians Swim Team, Women for Health and Wellness,

Girl Scouts, Du Quoin High School girls' sports, PTA and the First United Methodist Church children's programs. The Du Quoin Chamber of Commerce dubbed her Citizen of the Year in 1997.

People describe Travelstead as a "giver to the community," especially because of her fund raising work on behalf of the Du Quoin Youth Club; they credit her with the club's success. She runs two recreation businesses in Perry County, including the Red Hawk Golf Club and Ten Pin Alley Bowling Center. This year, the Du Quoin Elks named her Citizen of the Year.

Nagele's career is decidedly uncharacteristic of our times. In an age when many pursue instant wealth and leisure, this year's Alumna Achievement Award winner is a Maryknoll Catholic missionary. For the last 20 years she has aspired to serve humanity and forsake worldly amenities. After completing her bachelor's degree in biology in 1978 at the University of Illinois, Nagele earned her medical degree from SIUC in 1981. Three years later, she passed up a lucrative medical career in the United States choosing instead to provide medical care to the world's poorest citizens as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner.

In 1984, she established outpatient services and built a 36-bed inpatient facility for obstetrics and minor surgery in Tanzania. After moving to war-torn Sudan in 1991, she founded several medical outposts, often rebuilding bombed-out facilities. She has fought her own malaria and dysentery in the middle of a raging civil war. At one point she served as the only doctor for more than 30,000 displaced persons in two refugee camps.

Nagele learned to speak several languages fluently to communicate better with her patients about the meningitis, measles and myriad other diseases endemic to the region. She endures temperatures that regularly soar to 120 degrees in the afternoon and deals repeatedly with chronically inadequate medical supplies.

Nagele imparts hope and support to people who have neither. Her work involves tremendous self-sacrifice and constant exposure to misery, yet her faith in God has never wavered. Nor have her personal beliefs allowed her to indulge in self-pity. As she simply puts it, "[I] am not in Africa to suffer. There is enough suffering in the world."

Anyone may attend the Inspiring Women Gala, but all must buy advance tickets, which cost $60 each. For more information or to make a gala reservation or scholarship donation, call Tracee Tyner-Norris at 618/453-1038 or e-mail tnorris@siu.edu.

Serving others is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.