Women’s Walk: a tribute to inspirational women
Jada Scott | Staff Writer | [email protected] | @jadascott
Michele Welch encouraged women to “live by the truths of our own hearts” at the Utah Women’s Walk opening gala Nov. 7.
The event celebrated the lives of remarkable Utah women and sought to inspire women everywhere to live with passion and pursue their goals.
An estimated 350 guests attended the gala held in the UVU Grande Ballroom and hosted by KSL reporter and Studio 5 host Brooke Walker. The evening featured entertainment by Nathan Osmond, Mike Kestler and UVU vocalists Sarah Jorgenson and Taylor Valdez.
The honorees included innovative and pioneering women from all walks of life.
“We are changing lives by telling and retelling their stories,” said Belinda Han, director of UVU’s Center for Leadership. Each honoree was presented with a bronze medallion by UVU Vice President Michelle Taylor.
“The most satisfying aspect has been watching students having life-changing experiences,” said Welch, founder of Utah Women’s Walk. “When students are engaged in enriching activities, particularly with inspiring role models, their rates of graduating rise significantly.”
Welch said the 22-year-old project has been the “experience of a lifetime.” She began research as part of her master’s thesis as a grad student at BYU and was inspired to create a commemorative walk after her sister-in-law died from cancer in 1995.
Welch told women to remember that their voices matter. She emphasized the importance of “being passionate about what you do” and pursuing goals.
“It was really cool to be able to get to know a person who has had an influence on life in Utah,” said Elisa Richardson, a junior from Heber City who participated in documenting the biographies. The student researchers conducted interviews, performed research and wrote about the women who inspired them.
Anne Wairepo, director of UVU’s Women Success Center highlighted the importance of the program saying, “Young women today, perhaps more than any other time, need role models.” Establishing a connection with these role models can improve graduation rates and encourage goal completion.
“I really admire all these women who are spotlighted tonight and the way they’ve been able to use their leadership skills to contribute to the community,” said Amy Jacobson, a sophomore from Springville who attended the event.
The Utah Women’s Walk works collaboratively with the UVU American Studies program to preserve the stories of notable Utah women. UVU student researchers were recognized for their contributions in preserving this valuable heritage.
The project will culminate with a display at Thanksgiving Point Gardens. Similar exhibits have been held at the University of Portland—Walk of the Heroines—and in Boston—Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.