YWCA Ames-ISU honors women of achievement


Photo: Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Barbara Gwiasda speaks about the Rising Star award, which was presented to Som Mongtin, interim assistant director of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.

Daniel Bush

Three women in the Ames community have been awarded for their accomplishments and goals that strive towards the same mission of YWCA.

The three women that won awards were: Beth Sermet, Som Mongtin and Cimone Wright.

Sermet was awarded the 2013 Woman of Achievement for being a leader that has contributed to empower women and eliminate racism, stated on YWCA’s website.

“It’s a great honor,” Sermet said. “Especially to be recognized by your peers.”

Barbara Gwiasda, former honoree of the Woman of Achievement award in 2012, announced that Sermet took on the role of being the “conduit between the Darul Arqum Islamic Center” and people of other faiths in Ames.

“I think of being a bridge builder,” Sermet said.

The 2013 Rising Star award is given to a woman between the ages of 15  and 35 that is making a difference by the servitude towards women and effort of eliminating racism in the workplace, school or community.

“Beth has worked with various groups to encourage participation, acceptance and cooperation between Muslims and the diverse cultural groups in American society,” Gwiasda said.

Mongtin received the 2013 Rising Star award. She is an interim assistant director at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.

“I feel very honored,” Mongtin said. “It just motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Mongtin helps keep the Sloss House a safe place for women students, staff and faculty.

“In Som’s nomination letter, she is described as a ‘caped crusader’ for gender equality and women’s rights,” Gwiasda continued.

The final award was a scholarship of $1,000 awarded to a female ISU student that showed a commitment towards eliminating racism and empowering women.

Wright was awarded this scholarship for demonstrating her commitment in the YWCA’s ideals. She is a junior in computer engineering and an Air Force ROTC cadet.

“I was actually very ecstatic,” Wright said. “Especially to find an organization that has the same views as I do or is very motivated to eliminating some of these things that are going on that people overlook on a daily basis.”

Wright shared her experience of dropout rates of African-Americans in high school and college that she mentioned in the application of the scholarship.

“From freshman to senior year, 55 percent of the people I went to school with that were African-Americans dropped out,” Wright said.

She continued to say that college would be a lot different. Wright said she convinced herself that she knew what she was talking about and the rates would be lower.

The percentage of African-American students that graduate in four years at ISU is 21.9 percent, according to a report by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Wright has decided to make a difference in that number and try to support more African-Americans to go to college and graduate. She has convinced nine students from her hometown to go to college.

“It’s not about really at first wanting to go,” Wright said. “It’s about having those people under you to support you while you’re there.”

Sermet and Mongtin agreed about the idea of support.

“Encouraging them to find a network of support; that they are not going to do this alone, that they’re not the first and they won’t be the last,” Mongtin said describing what she would say to encourage women that are struggling.

The three awards recognized three women of different areas that have demonstrated the viewpoint of eliminating racism and empowering women.

“Women work best when they feel supportive,” Sermet said.