Celebrate Women winners

Taylor Fabian, Shailey Park and Gifty Kinful, left to right, were the Celebrate Women: Honoring Inclusive Excellence Benefit for Women’s Scholarships 2024 winners who were able to attend the 27th annual celebration event. Photo by Amihere Benson

March 29, 2024

Five SIU students win scholarships at Celebrate Women awards

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The 27th annual Celebrate Women: Honoring Inclusive Excellence Benefit for Women’s Scholarships at Southern Illinois University Carbondale was a time to celebrate women and their accomplishments and contributions.

The theme of the March 28 event at the SIU Banterra Center was “No Limits: Women in Aviation.” The goal was also raising funds for scholarships for current and future female Saluki standouts, and the evening included several special scholarship awards for current or incoming SIU female students.

An award-winning night

Taylor Fabian, an aviation technologies major from Oak Lawn, Illinois, and Sarah Michalak, an aviation management major from McKenry County, Illinois, both received the inaugural Loralei Ruiz Women in Aviation Scholarship. Organizers said the applicants were so impressive that the Carbondale Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) decided to present two scholarships this year in honor of longtime aviation faculty member Lorelei Ruiz, who recently retired as associate professor after more than 20 years at SIU, where she served as the longtime director of Summer Wings Aviation Camp.

Also winning Celebrate Women scholarships were:

  • Shailey Park, a first-year SIU law student from Carlinville, Illinois – Anna Morris Graduate Scholarship.
  • Gifty Kinful, a master’s student of sociology from Ghana – Joyce A. Kelly Graduate Scholarship.
  • Toni Ridle, a Carterville, Illinois, native now residing in Zeigler, Illinois, who will be transferring to SIU from John A. Logan College and majoring in social work – the Leila Marvin Scholarship.

The evening featured remarks by SIU System President Dan Mahony and Christine Zoerlein Albertson, an SIU aviation management alumna and accomplished pilot who has served in the Air National Guard and has long flown commercial airlines (currently American Airlines).

The AAUW Carbondale Branch hosted the event.