Jessica Steele named outstanding woman
Jessica Steele, a senior Carolina scholar from Hilton Head Island, has been named the University of South Carolina’s Outstanding Woman of the Year for 2010.
University officials honored Steele and four finalists at a ceremony Wednesday (March 31).
The award is given annually to an undergraduate who demonstrates exemplary academic achievement, service and leadership and who is active in campus and community activities.
“This is a fantastic honor,” said Steele. “It is a big ‘thank you’ to all the women who have been my mentors for me throughout my experience here. They made my time enjoyable and helped me have so many neat experiences. This is my thank you to them.”
This year’s finalists were Taylor Cain of Orangeburg, a junior history major; Audrey Graft of Scottdale, Pa., a South Carolina Honors College senior majoring in biology; Kaitlyn Jaffe of Annandale, N.J., a South Carolina Honors College senior and McKissick scholar majoring in psychology; and Meredith Ross of Spartanburg, a South Carolina Honors College senior, Capstone scholar and student body president (2009).
A student in the South Carolina Honors College, Steele is majoring in English, public health and international studies. She is the daughter of Don and Cecily Steele of Hilton Head Island and a graduate of Asheville School in Asheville, N.C.
As an outstanding scholar, Steele has been named to the president’s list and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Lambda Delta academic honor societies. She is a Palmetto fellow and was awarded a Magellan Research Fellowship by the university last year to conduct research on diabetes prevention among Latinos in Columbia under the direction of Dr. Myriam Torres, a professor in the Arnold School of Public Health and director of the Consortium for Latino Immigration.
This spring she was named a 2010 Fulbright scholar to Argentina.
Passionate about service, Steele volunteers through the Waverly Center After School Program and is involved with Perinatal Awareness for Successful Outcomes (PASOs), a local outreach program for Latina women, and the university’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institution, a non-partisan policy think tank. She plans to pursue a career in non-profit public-health work in the area of maternal and child health. While at Carolina, Steele also played on the USC Club Tennis team.
“Since her arrival at Carolina, Jessica has maintained a clear focus on improving the lives of women through her research and service,” said Kim McMahon, director of campus life and the Russell House University Union. "She is a true Carolinian and, in a word, outstanding in every way.”
Steele, who said she couldn’t have had a better undergraduate experience at Carolina, offers the following advice to female students entering as freshmen this fall: “There is such a wealth of resources here at Carolina for you. As long as you are willing to go out and find them, they are there for you. There are scholarships, research grants and so many neat organizations. If you want to make a difference, you can. It’s a really neat place to be.”
The Outstanding Woman of the Year Award is sponsored by Women Student Services and the Department of Student Life.