I was driving home this evening with my son when I got a phone call from a (402) area code. I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize, so I let it go to voicemail. When I listened to the message, I was absolutely floored.
I was contacted by the National Vice President of my sorority, Alpha Xi Delta (AXiD), telling me that I was receiving the 2019 Women of Distinction Award. This is the highest honor/award the organization gives to an individual. In a letter I received from AXiD tonight, the National Executive Director wrote that “The Woman of Distinction Award recognizes Sisters who exhibit excellence and extraordinary leadership in their professions and philanthropic pursuits, and it is the Fraternity’s most prestigious honor for alumnae Sisters. Established in 1986, the award has been bestowed previously on only 72 Sisters.”
I am now one of those select few. I will be recognized during Alpha Xi Delta’s National Convention in Seattle.
I found out that I had been nominated months ago by my friend Cathy. She and her husband Rob went to college with my husband, and I’ve known them since he and I met in 2002; Rob and my husband were/are fraternity brothers. When I called her to thank her, I was speechless. We laughed on the phone, knowing full well that I’m rarely without words. The letter she wrote to nominate me was so heartfelt and touching. The National Vice President said my nomination was a unanimous yes right away, and that my application packet rose to the top of the pack.
My mom was an AXiD while in college. I rushed in August 1998 and was given a bid from AXiD the same week. I was honored to be a part of such an amazing group of women, and to share this experience with my mom as a legacy. I spent time on the Chapter Executive Board holding positions such as Recording Secretary and Treasurer, as well as being the NPC Vice President in Charge of Recruitment. I graduated and reached alumna status in May 2002. This was my photo from the 1999-2000 Theta Iota chapter composite picture.
When asked to describe why the nominee is an Alpha Xi Delta Woman of Distinction, Cathy wrote: “On the afternoon of Feb. 14, 2018, Sarah went from being just an award winning English & Journalism teacher exemplary in her own right for 17 years, to becoming a hero to 15 teenage lives and taught the entire country about the strength of healing through literature and fair journalism. Sarah has since continually shown excellence in teaching by being engaged with many students, parents, and the community on school safety and using the strength of writing to heal. There is great importance in having leaders who stand out for their exemplary actions and the roles they play in history, especially when they step up and lead after enduring much.”
She went on to say that “Sarah published a very difficult 2018 yearbook with her Marjory Stoneman Douglas high School journalism students resulting in multiple national awards again marking her career excellence. As the New York Times said, ‘Few students who have survived mass shootings in schools have faced the same dilemma. The children at Sandy Hook were too young. Those at Columbine were too far along in the school year… At Stoneman Douglas High, where a former student is accused of killing 17 people in a deadly rampage, editors decided the shooting would not overtake their book. They insisted on preserving a record of the days that came before, the ones filled with the regular markers of high school life: Football games. Club activities. The Sadie Hawkins dance.’ The lesson of resilience and achieving good and great things after much ongoing enduring is truly commendable and Sarah’s blazing path of her unique way of bringing together the survivors through her publications (and teaching how to create them) are an exemplary way for all students and alums today and tomorrow to learn from these all-too-often tragedies.”
She closed her letter by saying “Sarah is a role model for leadership, integrity, good stewardship, grace, and social change. I am proud to call her a Panhellenic sister and a hero representing the best of humanity that our very own sisters can relate to, learn from, and aspire to be like. In this day and age where code reds are becoming far too common, Sarah has gifted these future leaders to see past the things they had to endure and the fears of what could be, and taught them they truly can make a difference in their youth and not have to wait for tomorrow. This is not a political or specific point of view nomination –it is about encompassing pain from an event and making it into something useful, beautiful, and promising for the bigger good. That day was not by choice but Sarah’s actions were and every day after that. The articles below reflect just a snippet of the efforts Sarah has directly helped lead and engage in to make a difference thus making her deserving of this honor.”
I am grateful for Cathy’s friendship and high praise. I am humbled to be honored and recognized by an organization I have been a part of since 1998. I’m flattered.