COLUMBUS, Miss. – The Mississippi University for Women Alumni Association (MUWAA) has announced four deserving individuals to be recognized for contributions in their respective career fields and service to The W.

The award winners are Kacey L. Keeton (‘97 of Montgomery, Ala.), Cheryl Jackson Cooper (’82 of Ocean Springs, Miss.), Ashley L. Dean (’06 of Nashville, Tenn.) and Dr. Sheila V. Adams.

Each year at Homecoming, the alumni association recognizes outstanding achievement and presents awards to selected recipients in the categories of: MUW Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, MUW Distinguished Achievement Award, MUW Alumni Service Award and Outstanding Recent Graduate Award.

The MUW Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award goes to Kacey Keeton who graduated magna cum laude from The W with a degree in Journalism/Public Relations. Actively involved in on-campus activities, Keeton was editor of the Spectator and served on the Student Government Association Court. In 2001, she received her juris doctorate from the University of Alabama Law School where she received the Hugo Black Scholarship and an ACLU award. The impact she continues to make on others is clear in this quotation from one of her peers: “From her professional life to her personal life, Kacey is the quintessential difference-maker.” Keeton is currently employed as an assistant federal defender with the Federal Defender Program for the Middle District of Alabama.

The recipient of this year’s MUW Alumni Service Award goes to Cheryl Jackson Cooper, business owner and marketing/communications consultant. She was selected by consistently demonstrating outstanding commitment, dedication, leadership and service to the advancement of the university and the MUW Alumni Association. Cooper graduated from The W with a degree in Journalism in 1982, earned a master’s of science degree in Communication from the University of Southern Mississippi 1983 and in 1994 she added a master’s of business administration. She has served as president of the MUW Alumni Association, been recognized as one of Ten Outstanding Young Women in America and received honors and awards too numerous to cite.

The 2017 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award goes to Ashley L. Dean. Dean graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Exercise Science in 2006 before earning her certificate of Prosthetics from Northwestern University in 2007. As the area clinic manager and prosthetist/orthotist for Hanger Clinic in the greater Nashville area, Dean has helped hundreds of patients by designing, fitting and educating them regarding the use and care of their prosthesis/orthosis. Dean has cared for children as young as six months old with cranial helmets all the way to fitting WWII Veterans with prosthetic limbs. In her free time, she volunteers with Women in Leadership with Hanger Clinic, Middle Tennessee MUW Alumni Association, and Catalyst Adaptive Sports. She sums up her passion for the work she does with, “I cherish being able to improve a person’s quality of life.”

Dr. Sheila Adams is the 2017 recipient of the MUW Distinguished Achievement Award. Though not an MUW alumna, Dr. Adams has provided leadership to and worked tirelessly for the institution to garner recognition and acclaim for the nursing program at The W. She is the current professor and dean of the College of Nursing and Speech-Language Pathology, but has also served as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs and other administrative positions. As the result of her leadership and professional efforts, The W’s nursing program has garnered national recognition and regularly graduates “the best-prepared nurses in the state of Mississippi.” Along with her achievements at MUW, Dr. Adams has compiled an incomparable record of professional and community service and an enviable record of personal recognition and rewards, including listing in Who’s Who in American Nursing, Outstanding Young Women in America and Nursing Dean and Nursing Administrator of the Year.

Kacey Keeton, Cheryl Cooper, Ashley Dean and Dr. Sheila Adams will receive their awards at a special recognition ceremony held during MUW Homecoming weekend March 23-26.

When Mississippi University for Women was chartered in 1884, it made educational history as the first state-supported college for women in America. Five years later with the graduation of the university’s first class, the university’s alumnae association was officially created.

Since that time MUW alumni have assumed positions of leadership and service in their communities at the local, state and national level, distinguished themselves professionally, and remained staunch in their loyalty to and support for their alma mater - now known fondly and informally as “The W.”

For immediate release
March 14, 2017


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