Four Named 2001 Women of Distinction at WSU

PULLMAN, Wash. — Four women will be honored March 29 at Washington State University’s Women and Leadership Luncheon as Women of Distinction for 2001.

This year’s honorees are Shira Broschat, a WSU electrical engineering and computer science faculty member; Kyoko Miyamura Nix, a graduate student in apparel, merchandising and interior design; WSU alumna Burdena “Birdie” Pasenelli of Woodinville; and Colfax community member Charmaine Mandell.

The women were selected for their academic work, career leadership or public service and contribution to the personal growth and success of others. A Woman of the Year will be announced at the March 29 luncheon.

Broschat, professor of electrical engineering, received the Woman of Distinction Award in the current WSU employee category.

Broschat is considered among the best teachers in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Her rapport with students is highly commendable, her nominator said.

The faculty member has three times received the Outstanding Teaching Faculty Award. Broschat also received the Teaching Excellence Award for the College of Engineering and Architecture. She is presently EECS curriculum coordinator.

Broschat’s research areas are in electromagnetics, acoustics and image processing applications. Her research has been well recognized at national and international levels. Among her major awards are the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award and the NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow Award. This year, she was elected to be a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America.

She served on WSU’s Presidential Search Committee and is chair of the Strategic Planning Diversity Design Team.

Broschat serves selflessly as mentor to many students and to young women aspiring to careers in science and engineering.

A WSU interior design graduate assistant, Nix founded the Japanese Student Association at the University of Mississippi, but her efforts as a women’s advocate began in Japan. She left her homeland because women were held back; she wasn’t content, according to her nominator. As a managing supervisor of an editing organization in Tokyo, she was required to serve male subordinates tea at breaks. Nix refused to accept those circumstances as her lot in life.

Her nominator calls her a true leader in the sense that risk-taking has become second nature.

Her research has traced the histories from early home economics to interior decorating to interior design and ultimately the (mostly) failed attempts at becoming interior architecture. She has touched on women’s issues that others have not, said her nominator.

Nix is a successful teacher. She takes time to create learning opportunities for each student, individually. “I believe she takes more pleasure in seeing one of her students do well on a project or in a course than she takes of her own successes,” said one supporter.

Pasenelli epitomizes what a “woman of courage and vision” stands for. A 1967 WSU police science and administration graduate, she began her career as one of the first female detectives hired by the Seattle Police Department in 1969. She also was one of the first 10 to graduate from the FBI Academy when it opened its doors to women in 1973. The “firsts” continued when she became the first woman to serve as an assistant special agent and special agent in charge of a field office and the first assistant director in the FBI.

When Pasenelli retired from the FBI in 1999, she was quoted as saying, “I’ve learned to be the boss I always wanted, the boss who can open doors for people, who can make decisions and who holds people accountable. I have passion and know where I’m leading people. And I can change my mind.”

She is involved in a number of community-service duties since her retirement. She was appointed by Seattle Mayor Paul Schell to a citizens review board. She also speaks to various audiences on women in leadership and achieving success. She is a member of the WSU College of Liberal Arts Advisory Council.

Mandell of Colfax, author of “Remember Tomorrow: A Woman’s Companion,” has volunteered her time and talents, emotionally supporting foster parents, girls in alternative schools, women in shelters, and women and mothers in correctional facilities.

Numerous times, she spends days in filthy surroundings with drug-addicted women “gaining their trust,” then driving them to rehabilitation facilities, according to her nominator. During a cold and wet November, she lived on Seattle streets to comprehend why women choose that lifestyle. Last year, while volunteering in Mexico, she raised funds for a girl to attend secondary school and the University of Guadalajara. In South Africa, one of her daughters saw Mom bathing and comforting AIDS children and educating their mothers.

She is driven by her vision. “When we remember tomorrow, we make wise choices today” is her theme. She says the puzzle contains three pieces: foster parents, incarcerated mothers and their confused children. Each and every day, she works toward sharing the vision of her life theme.

“This nomination represents a sincere thank you to our mother from her daughters and the hundreds of other daughters she influences by her loving spirit,” nominators stated.