This award is designed to honor a student who has worked to improve issues related to gender, equity, and diversity on any of MSU's four campuses. There can be up to one undergraduate winner and one graduate winner and each award carries a $500 scholarship.
Danielle (Dani) Daley
Dani Daley will graduate in May with a degree in Economics and Political Science. Throughout her time at MSU, Dani has served as a Senior Associate at the MSU Leadership Institute. Through this, she organized MSU’s first Gender Equality Conference. Her work with the Leadership Institute helped to provide over 3,000 MSU students with leadership development opportunities. Dani served as the Executive Assistant at the Montana Racial Equity Project, and has been very involved with the Bozeman for CEDAW Initiative to bring the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women treaty to Bozeman. Through her research, Dani has shed light on gender wage inequities, and the importance of the involvement of women in economics. She is the recipient of a Forward Montana 25 Under 25 Award, an MSUAF Award for Excellence, an MSU Leadership Institute Above and Beyond Award, and the Initiative for Regulation and an Applied Economic Analysis Grant. Upon graduating, Dani plans to work for a local start up, My Village, as a data analyst in finance and operations. Her work will support the mission to solve the childcare crisis in Montana and Colorado by financing women who are starting their own childcare businesses.
Emma Folkerts graduates in May with a degree in Directed Interdisciplinary Studies, combining Political Science, Economics and Sociology. Emma has led the HEART Initiative Student organization as the President and Chief Editor. She volunteers as a Peer Educator, Peer Advocate and Peer Educator Mentor with MSU’s VOICE center. In addition to being involved in countless MSU organizations, Emma advocates for the greater Gallatin County community through her work as an HRDC Warming Center volunteer and is a founding member of the Gallatin County Human Trafficking Task Force. Human rights are obviously a priority for Emma, she serves as a board member with the U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities Project and did research with Public History Lab’s Project Solidarity to collect information about refugees during El Salvador’s civil war. She is a recipient of Forward Montana’s 25 under 25 award, the MSU Award for Excellence in 2020, and the MSU Day of Student Recognition Outstanding Freshman and Sophomore Service Award. After graduation, Emma hopes to establish a position at MSU to examine exploitation within MSU’s supply chains. She also plans to volunteer in El Salvador and attend graduate school to focus on refugees, forced migration and exploitation.
Dana Kramer will graduate in May with a degree in Biochemistry. Her work at the VOICE Center as a peer educator, advocate and currently a direct services specialist has helped her uncover a deep passion for advocacy work. She has learned to provide intentional support for survivors, recognizing that the serious impacts of sexual violence are damaging to people of all identities, genders and abilities. Her work at the Help Center in the community allowed her to bring these skills to populations struggling with addiction and suicide. Dana served as the President of Students for Choice in 2018, and currently serves as the President of Students Against Sexual Assault.
Jamie Baird is currently the Director of Diversity and Inclusion through the Office of Student Engagement. They will graduate in May in Statistics, and serve on multiple university-wide diversity and inclusion councils as a student representative. Jamie has served as an ASMSU senator, President of the Queer Straight Alliance, and a mentor for the DISC's Mentor program. They note that their work toward gender equity and inclusion began as a means to survive in an institution that was not yet equipped to support LGBTQ+ students, but these activities have made Jamie dedicated to creating a community that supports marginalized students. Clearly they have not only survived, but have thrived as an MSU leader!
Micah McFeely is most recently known for her work as the ASMSU Vice President. What you may not know about Micah is that she was instrumental in developing ASMSU's position for a Student Director for Diversity and Inclusion, that she is a SafeZone Trainer and a Sustained Dialogue Facilitator. When Micah first arrived at MSU, she hit the ground running--running to forge lasting change that would challenge the institutions of racism, sexism, and intolerance. She has worked with the VOICE Center, the Leadership Institute, and Forward Montana. Micah was an RA with Residence Life, and served on Governor Bullock's Equal Pay Task Force. Micah proudly wears the labels of "ambitious", " lively", and "feminist", but notes that her experiences have transformed her into an inter-sectional-thinking feminist-- as both an ally and an advocate.
Marena “Bright Eyes” Mahto
Marena Mahto is first and foremost, an indigenous activist here in Bozeman. Most recently, her attention has been focused on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (#MMIW) project to bring awareness to the shocking rates of interpersonal and sexual violence crimes against Native women in this country. While she was a freshman, Marena was able to attend the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Conference in Vancouver which led her to become active in the Standing Rock/Dakota Pipeline protests. Marena hopes to continue working with people who promote an agenda of equity and social justice through research and activism.
A native of Polson, Montana, Annie Venters, one of the 2017 students PCOSUW Award winners, and is majoring in Community Health and minoring in the Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies program at MSU. Her exceptional work as the Sustained Dialogue Program Coordinator, as well as her past work as a VOICE Center advocate have fueled her passion for open dialogue, critical thinking, conversation facilitation, and activism.
Mary Frances Ambrose
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Frances began her career at MSU in the Fall of 2013. Her first day of school included a visit to the MSU Women's Center where she signed up as a volunteer. Frances quickly re-instated the feminist discussion group, F-Word. Her passion for feminism, environmental issues, and human rights has informed her volunteer work, her student employment, and her academic studies. Frances is a Conservation Biology and Ecology major, and is truly an engaged advocate for social justice causes.
Darby Lacey received an English literature degree, an honors degree, and a minor in biochemistry when she graduated May. She has been a moderator and program coordinator for MSU Sustained Dialogue, a moderator and program developer of the MSU Common Ground Retreat, a student leadership coach, and a volunteer for the Eagle Mount Adaptive Recreation Program. Darby has volunteered for Planned Parenthood, the national HOSA program for future health professionals, and presented at this year’s MLK Day celebration. Though her path to a pre-med career was unusual, she plans to combine her passion for social justice and healthcare in order to facilitate “access to quality and compassionate healthcare for all people regardless of sex, gender expression, race, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, and ability status.”
Katherine Stocker, a senior in physics, has been instrumental in helping found and develop what is now known as Engineering Peer Advising Leaders (EPALs). As a sophomore, Katherine was one of two undergraduate women who assisted Dr. Sarah Codd and Angela Des Jardins in carrying out the pilot peer advising program, which focused on freshman women in engineering and physics. The program became so successful it now encompasses all engineering and physics freshmen and sophomores, while maintaining a focus on women and minorities. Katherine herself has helped mentor up to 25 EPALs per year. Katherine appreciates the benefits of the program personally as well, and states, “Being a student adviser has allowed me to grow as a role model. Providing information on research opportunities and aiding in the fulfillment of the mentees’ passions is a way for me to give back and show gratitude to the people who helped me.”
Joe Schumacher is truly a leader in creating positive change for students around issues relating to gender, equity, and diversity on our campus through his work with the VOICE Center, Pre-Law club, Student Veteran Club, and the Not In our House Task Force. He takes personal responsibility for the education of our campus through his work with the VOICE Center and has traveled to testify in Helena as a student representative to keep the issue of gender equity on the table. Joe presented to over 5,000 students in just one semester alone on the topic of interpersonal violence and has trained over 100 student advocates during his time at the VOICE Center. He has presented at a number of statewide and national conferences focusing on sexual assault and violence against women. Joe has also been a volunteer with HAVEN, THRIVE and the Bozeman Help Center. Joe discusses his work with all of these organizations in the following statement: “Our goal is to educate men on our campus and facilitate discussions about masculinity and encourage healthy sexuality and relationships. But I feel that in order to see real progress in equality and the prevention of interpersonal violence, collaboration between MSU and the community is absolutely vital.” Joe has actively forged those connections between our campus and the Bozeman community and is a well-respected member of both.
Abbie Bandstra is a graduate student in Native American Studies. During her undergraduate career at MSU, she was the President of Students for Choice, a volunteer and employee of the Women’s Center, an ASMSU Senator, a National Student Exchange Intern, and a First Year Seminar Peer Coordinator. As a feminist and activist, Abbie’s work towards social justice in the realms of race, socioeconomic class, and gender equity has been admirable. Abbie has also accrued impressive “real life” experience in her positions as program director with Shift Empowerment, as the Livingston School District Farmer Educator, and as a volunteer facilitator and advisor for a girls’ empowerment group at Livingston High School. Abbie’s thoughtful consideration of the intersectionality of all oppressions is highlighted in this statement: “I often think that one of the most meaningful tools in advocating for change and equality can be in situations of discourse, particularly not just in upholding a constant presence of censor, but also a continual questioning and articulation of whose voice is not at the table.” It has been Abbie’s life work to seek out those missing voices and make sure that they can be heard. Her research on Native American women’s access to reproductive healthcare will likely prove to be both enlightening and invaluable.
Lindsay Murdock, sociology, is an advocate for diversity and inclusion across campus through her work in student government and several clubs. As the President of ASMSU Murdock worked with the campus and the state Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force to bring $tart $mart Salary Negotiation workshops to MSU. She was also instrumental in coordinating the efforts to bring Lilly Ledbetter to campus in April for the Equal Pay Summit. Furthermore, Murdock worked with several different student organizations like Not In Our House, QSA, Sustained Dialogue and many others to support diversity related program in order to ensure campus was inclusive for people of all identities. Murdock spent her time in school studying sociology with a focus on race and gender relations and how social justice movements must continue to inform academic social theory.
Kiah Abbey, political science, worked to found Sustained Dialogue on campus, a group dedicated to helping students better understand the different roles diverse identities played in creating a truly diverse community. By allowing people to grasp intersectional identities, others are more open to dialogue to action in order to create true institutional change. Abbey was also the President of ASMSU and worked to change Board of Regents policy in order to ensure it was inclusive of LGBTQ rights on campuses across the Montana University System.
Kathryn Williamson, physics, moved to Bozeman after receiving her bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy at the University of Georgia. She's a graduate student in the physics program at MSU and works with both the Solar Physics Group and the Space Public Outreach Team (SPOT). Kathryn works to expand the visibility of women and other underrepresented minorities in STEM programs at MSU.
President Cruzado is pictured at the left in between two past student award winners, Lindsay Murdock (left) and Kiah Abbey (right).
President Cruzado Thinking Gender Award
The President Cruzado Thinking Gender Award was named for the first woman president of Montana State University. This award, sponsored by TRIOTA honor society, recognizes one outstanding student for academic excellence in women's and gender studies, advocacy, community service, or other significant contribution to gender equality on campus or otherwise.