Recent grad Francis nominated for women’s leadership award

Lauren Murphy, Staff writer


Update: It was announced on Sept. 17, that Emily Francis is the recipient of the ATHENA Young Professionals Award for 2015.

Emily Francis, a recent graduate of Mercyhurst’s class of 2015, was nominated for the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award for the ATHENA Erie chapter.
ATHENA Erie is a local chapter of ATHENA International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the leadership of women, as well as inspiring women to reach their full professional potential.
There are four universities that participate in the ATHENA Erie chapter: Edinboro University, Gannon University, Mercyhurst University, and Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Along with Francis, the three other nominees are Megan Kunst from Edinboro, Brianna Woods from Gannon and Chelsea Chase from Behrend.
The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award is an extension of the ATHENA Leadership Award. Its goal is to recognize students who have the potential to be future leaders.
“I’m flattered and very surprised,” said Francis about her nomination.
The winners of this award have shown themselves to be emerging leaders who provide valuable service to the community and serve as a role model for young women, according to the official ATHENA guidelines.
“I’m happy to be a part of a process of inspiring women. I’m hoping my nomination leads to more opportunities for other women in Erie by raising awareness,” Francis said.
Francis said that Meghan Waskiewicz,  communication department chair and the faculty representative of Mercyhurst on the ATHENA board, emailed her while she was in Ireland to ask permission to nominate her.
“I’m proud to put her up as a representative of Mercyhurst University,” Waskiewicz said.
Francis and Waskiewicz have never met. As a member of the ATHENA board, Waskiewicz does her research to find the perfect Mercyhurst candidate. She looks for students who are immersed in campus and community life.
At the end of her search Waskiewicz said she debated between Francis and two other students. After seeing what Francis’ involvement on and off campus, Waskiewicz decided to nominate her.
On campus, Francis was on the rowing team, captain of the cross country team, president of the Student Alumni Association and a student tutor. She worked closely with Kristan Wheaton, associate professor of Intelligence Studies, as a project manager on his Quickstarter Initiative at Mercyhurst. Off campus, she volunteered at the JFK Center, the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Multicultural Resource Center.
“She’s the whole package,” said Waskiewicz. “She also represents the core values of Mercyhurst, which is what we want in a nominee because they are representing our school.”
Francis was a double major in Intelligence Studies and Public Health.
“It made sense to combine the two. I want to use an Intel skill set to solve public health issues,” Francis said.
After the four nominees are submitted, a subcommittee of the ATHENA board will have a closed session on Sept. 16, to cast their votes for a winner. These votes are sent to ATHENA Erie Chair, Linda Stevenson, who counts the ballots to determine the winner.
The winner of the ATHENA Award will be announced on Sept. 17.