FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MUW Alumni Association announces award winners
April 24, 2012
Contact: Anika Mitchell Perkins
COLUMBUS, Miss. – Four deserving individuals were recognized for contributions to their respective career fields and Mississippi University for Women by the MUW Alumni Association.
The award winners, announced Saturday at the annual meeting of the MUW Alumni Association held during the university’s Homecoming, were Dr. Sue Jolly-Smith of Columbus; Toni Seawright of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Dr. Harry Sherman of Columbus; and Amy Strickland Tate of Tupelo.
Dr. Jolly-Smith was presented the Alumni Service Award for consistently demonstrating outstanding commitment, dedication, leadership and service to the advancement of the University and the Alumni Association.
Dr. Jolly-Smith, class of 1975, chaired the Campus Advisory Committee for the 2011 MUW Presidential Search. She serves as Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences and is a member of numerous campus committees. Her commitment to teaching and learning at MUW is evident in all that she does for the University.
A member and supporter of the MUW Alumni Association, she has attended several alumni events in the area to give presentations and updates on her College’s programs and successes. Dr. Jolly-Smith is well known throughout the state as an accomplished education professional. She is an excellent representative of MUW, its education program, and the high caliber of MUW alumni. Her selfless service to her alma mater is to be commended.
Seawright was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. This award is extended to MUW alumni who have achieved professional distinction and made significant community service contributions at the local, national and/or international level, bringing distinction and honor to the University.
A member of MUW’s class of 1987, became Miss W, then Miss Mississippi and fourth runner-up to Miss America. In doing so, she became the first black Miss Mississippi and cemented her place in American history. She is a singer, songwriter, actress and entertainer who also manages the business aspects of her career and the careers of her sons.
Seawright is the current AUDELCO Award Winner for "Outstanding Performance in A Musical - Female" for her starring role in "The Widow and Miss Mamie" performed at the Harlem School of the Arts. (AUDELCO Awards recognize Excellence in Black Theater.) In February she reprised that role and also starred in "I, Barbara Jordan" staged at the Harlem School of the Arts in honor of Black History Month. A working singer and actress, performing in numerous musicals, live shows and special events, she was the featured speaker and entertainer at the 4th Annual Women's Symposium, "I am the Queen of My World" sponsored by Navigator Credit Union. She has performed vocals with numerous celebrities and continues to represent Mississippi and MUW as a role model. In 2010, she addressed the Mississippi House of Representatives to speak of her love for MUW and to share an a capella performance, where she received a standing ovation.
Dr. Sherman was the recipient of the MUWAA’s Distinguished Achievement Award, an award presented to alumni and friends of the university who have achieved professional distinction and made significant community service contributions at the local, national and/or international level, bringing distinction and honor to the University.
Dr. Sherman, who is MUW’s longest serving employee, was also honored at a reception during Homecoming. He joined MUW September 1961. Beloved by former students, he is professor emeritus of biological sciences and currently serves as the coordinator of public programs at the Plymouth Bluff Conference Center. Through his persistence over several decades, his plans and dreams of the Plymouth Bluff Center became a reality. Dr. Sherman continues to expand the Plymouth Bluff Center by improving upon the trails and other educational offerings. He has dedicated his life in service to MUW and his passion for his field of study.
Tate, government relations manager for the Tennessee Valley Authority in Mississippi, was presented the Outstanding Recent Graduate Award, which recognizes alumni for outstanding service and contributions in their chosen careers and to the MUW within 15 years of their graduation.
Tate, who lives in Tupelo, maintains bipartisan working relationships with congressional staff, state representatives and senators, county supervisors and city mayors. She also works with various interest organizations and associations. Tate, an experienced government relations and communications professional, was a member of TVA's Media Relations staff prior to moving to the Valley Relations staff. Prior to her association with TVA, she was special assistant to the mayor of Tupelo, where she coordinated public relations efforts for the mayor and city departments.
Recognized as one of the Mississippi Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” Tate is a graduate of the Mississippi Economic Council’s Leadership Mississippi and the Community Leadership Institute. She serves on the boards of Advance Mississippi, Junior Achievement, March of Dimes and the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education. She also serves as mentor to the Lawndale Leadership Academy, a leadership program for sixth graders in the Tupelo Public School District. Tate earned a double-major bachelor’s degree in public relations and political science from MUW in 1997.
Tate is currently enrolled in the Executive Leadership and Management Program in the Owens School of Management at Vanderbilt University.