RCAH Professor Estrella Torrez Named an Inspirational Woman of the Year

February 10, 2020

By RCAH Communications

Image shows Professor Estrella Torrez, standing in front of a brick building and smiling.Professor Estrella Torrez of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) at Michigan State University has been cited as an Inspirational Woman of the Year for her leadership in the area of community engagement and for championing women working in community engagement.

Torrez and the other recipients will be honored at the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award Reception Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at MSU’s Wharton Center for Performing Arts.

In nominating Torrez for the award, RCAH Dean Stephen Esquith stated that the longtime RCAH professor “has been especially attentive to the important roles that women play as community leaders and has been an untiring exemplary advocate for them.”

Torrez's research centers on language politics and the importance of community-based knowledge, particularly among rural Latino families and urban Indigenous youth.

“Torrez is an ideal recipient of this award in the category of community engagement,” Esquith said. “Her teaching and research are informed by her work in communities. Her community engagements are deepened by her research, which is co-generated with community partners. She has truly been an ‘inspirational woman.’”

The Inspirational Woman of the Year (IWOTY) Awards, managed by MSU’s Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen), honor MSU employees in the categories of Community Engagement, Culture of Empowerment, and Professional Achievement. Women from the mid-Michigan community are recognized in the categories of Community Engagement and Culture of Empowerment.

The 2020 IWOTY recipients are:

  • MSU Community Engagement (co-recipients) - Ashley Lathrop, Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences and Estrella Torrez, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities
  • MSU Professional Achievement - Nwando Achebe, Department of History
  • MSU Culture of Empowerment - Rebecca Campbell, Department of Psychology
  • Mid-Michigan Community Engagement - Katie Brewer, President of the Laingsburg High School Drama Boosters
  • Mid-Michigan Culture of Empowerment - Polly Mallory, former Chief Operating Officer of the LACASA Center in Howell

The Woman Student Leader of the Year Awards are managed by MSU Women*s Student Services, within the Division of Students Affairs and Services. These awards are in their inaugural year, honoring both undergraduate and graduate student leaders. The 2020 recipients are:

  • Kadie Alpers, senior majoring in Marketing
  • Morgan PettyJohn, doctoral student in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies

According to GenCen, these qualities are exhibited by the six 2020 Inspirational Woman of the Year Awardees and the two 2020 Women Student Leader of the Year Awardees:

  • A passion for investing at Michigan State University (MSU) and in mid-Michigan communities.
  • A dedication to empowering women through volunteerism and leadership.
  • An unyielding excellence woven into every action taken.

GenCen and Women*s Student Services are co-hosting the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award Reception on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The reception will take place from 5:30-7:30p.m. in the Jackson Lounge of MSU’s Wharton Center, and is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite (https://tinyurl.com/iwoty2020) for $10.00, and each ticket includes a drink ticket, hors d'oeuvres, and a commemorative wine glass.