LU aims to honor inspirational women

Lamar University’s Inspirational Woman’s Award Ceremony, March 23, will honor women who embody this year’s theme, “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Excellence and Beyond,” and feature guest speaker Belashia Wallace.

The Office of Global Diversity and Inclusive Excellence is hosting the Inspirational Woman Award Ceremony and Reception to honor all women who have positively impacted Lamar University, their peers and students and to distinguish one woman for her exceptional contributions to the community.

“Honoring these women during National Women’s History Month is symbolic. It was just 34 years ago when Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9, which designated the Month of March as Women’s History Month,” said Olayinka Jenmy, Assistant Director of Residence Life Division of Student Engagement. “These women are making great strides within their respective departments and fields. They are breaking glass ceilings.”

Now in its third year, the Inspirational Woman Award event seeks nominations. Any woman based on her actions and professional practices exemplifies diversity and inclusiveness efforts as well as significant contributions to the growth and success of women at Lamar University, should be nominated. Women who are role models to other women and advocate for and educate women are specifically sought out to be honored and recognized.

“We look for women who support Lamar University’s core values and mission and present as a role model within the community,” said Jenmy. “The Inspirational Woman Award Committee reads through every nomination, ultimately making the final decision. We remove names and associate numbers to avoid biases in the deciding process. We do this to look at the whole contribution of what a woman has done and not her status.”

Four recipients - a student, a faculty member, a staff member, and an alumnus - will be awarded.  Everyone who is nominated will be acknowledged at the ceremony.

The event, held in the Plummer Room of the Mary and John Gray Library on the 8th Floor beginning at 4
Belashia Wallace
Belashia Wallace
p.m., will also feature guest speaker Belashia Wallace, a 2008 LU graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications-Print Journalism. Wallace had a tremendous impact on LU as student and continues to exemplify LU’s values in her career.

While at LU Wallace founded Woman to Woman, the first women’s empowerment organization, which became the largest student group in its first month on campus. Upon graduation, she was recognized by the Beaumont mayor who appointed her as the city’s youngest committee member. Wallace attend law school at Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law where she served on the Chief Elected Office of the State of Texas Law Student Division, the Lt. Governor of the American Bar Association, the National Black Law Students Association and the Law Student Liaison for Texas Young Lawyers Association. She graduated magna cum laude and was named #1 student leader.

Wallace’s endeavors to significantly contribute to the community have continued in her career field. After earning her law degree and passing the bar exam, she was the Assistant District attorney for Harris County. However, she was promoted to work on a $2 million-dollar grant project for the state of Texas and shortly thereafter offered a position to work as a trial attorney for a plaintiffs’ personal injury firm.  

Wallace received judicial, state and national honors for her trial victories related to combating international sex trafficking while serving as in-house counsel for a Fortune 500 insurance company. Today, Wallace represents victims in every county in Texas at her own personal injury law firm, The Wallace Law Firm.

Throughout her educational and professional career, Wallace has received many awards, held multiple leadership positions and handled a wide range of cases.

“Mrs. Wallace was chosen as our guest speaker because of her impressive bio and deep connections  and service to the Lamar University and Beaumont community,” said Jenmy. “I have seen her rise above many obstacles and pave the way for many young women to rise up successfully.”

The 2021 award ceremony recipients are:

Student- Tracy Ramirez, Communication Student

Staff- Brandie Van Zanden, Director-New Student & Leadership Programs; Student Service Fee Administrator  

Faculty- Dr. Xiangyang (Sunny) Lei, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Alumni- Rena Clark, Managing Partner-Private Equity, Laurel Oak Capital Partners

WHO: Office of Global Diversity and Inclusive Excellence
WHAT: Inspiration Woman Award Ceremony and Reception
WHEN: March 23, 4 p.m.
WHERE: Plummer Room in the Mary and John Gray Library, 8th Floor
WHY: To recognize exceptional women