Honoring the Women of Rollins

We’re celebrating Women’s History Month by shining a light on some of the incredible women who have impacted the Rollins community and beyond.

Photos by Scott Cook and courtesy Rollins College Archives Photos by Scott Cook and courtesy Rollins College Archives

Since its founding in 1885, Rollins has built a rich legacy in support of countless women who have come to study, teach, and serve. From the traditions imparted by the College’s co-founder, Lucy Cross, to students, alumni, faculty, and staff making a positive difference in the world, we’re celebrating the impact and contributions of the many amazing women of Rollins. In honor of Women’s History Month, we reached out to members of our community for stories of how Rollins women are impacting their lives, our campus community, or communities across the globe. The following collection of tributes stands as a lasting recognition of the meaningful lives and productive careers of the remarkable women of Rollins.

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Stacey Dunn, professor of psychology

“Dr. Stacey Dunn has been a driving force behind my Rollins experience. She truly cares about every student, always shows compassion and empathy toward others, and offers support and mentorship. I can’t begin to express how many times I sat in her office to discuss psychology concepts, research topics, and grad school options. Dr. Dunn also stands out in the clinical psychology field. In textbooks, we often read about influential male figures who shaped the field of psychology. Having the opportunity to learn from Dr. Dunn has been eye-opening because she is a strong female figure who has had many successes and publications throughout her career. I wholeheartedly admire and appreciate Dr. Dunn’s work in mindfulness, gratitude, diversity, and equity. After collaborating on a mindfulness research study, she has inspired me to incorporate mindfulness-based therapies into my future career. I’m so incredibly grateful for Dr. Dunn.” — Jessica Gonzalez ’21

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Giselda Beaudin, director of global initiatives

“I believe Giselda’s role as Rollins has
been so imperative to the school’s mission to prepare students for global citizenship and responsible leadership. The [Office of International Programs], which she oversees, continues to network Rollins internationally to establish long-term opportunities for the Rollins community and the communities in which Rollins is visiting. Giselda’s office and the experiences it has provided me have expanded my awareness as a member of an interconnected global civil society.” — Addie Perez ’22

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Patricia Simmons, professor of humanities

“Professor Simmons is a wonderful professor. She uplifts her students and encourages them. Further, she understands the needs of nontraditional [Hamilton Holt School] students and works to close the gap. I love her. Truly an amazing human!” — Lorraine Hernandez ’21

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Kourtnie Berry ’12, assistant women’s basketball coach

“Kourtnie brings so much light to our campus. She strives to not only elevate the voices of our student-athletes, but also serves to enlighten and educate her colleagues to help create lasting change on our campus. I am inspired by her commitment to service and how she uplifts all on campus, especially women. I have been honored to work with her more closely this last year!” — Meredith Hein

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Evelyn Villarreal ’20, graduate fellow, Center for Leadership & Community Engagement

“Evelyn personifies the Rollins motto,
‘Life is for service.’ From the day I met
her, it was evident how much compassion and dedication she has for improving her community. She makes those around her feel seen, listened to, and welcome. She
has been a tremendous contributor to our campus community during her undergraduate career and is continuing that work in her role as a community engagement graduate fellow. Her active listening skills, empathetic perspective, and passion for service and social change make her a perfect example of a global citizen and responsible leader. She is enthusiastic, gracious, and worthy of recognition.” — Sofia Macias ’14 ’20MBA

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Samantha Vega, associate director of diversity and inclusion

“During her time at Rollins, Samantha Vega has quickly become a key supporter of students. One of Samantha’s most impressive contributions to campus is her work with the EMBARK program. The way that she builds relationships, creates supportive environments, and has real conversations about life and learning is inspiring. Not only does Samantha embody that role for our students, but she is also a supportive and motivating colleague. In short, Samantha is a phenomenal woman!” — Abby Hollern

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Alexandra Woods, employer engagement graduate assistant

“Alexandra is lighting the campus ablaze with her passion and devotion to the Rollins community. She has gone above and beyond to create experiences for our students, faculty, and staff during one of the most challenging times we’ve ever experienced. She’s a joy to work with and brings such positivity to our campus. I’m truly inspired by her energy and commitment to creating change and living out the College’s core mission of service.” — Meredith Hein

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Pennie Parker, director of athletics

“Pennie is the definition of a professional administrator who understands how to lead with empathy and concern for the well-being of those under her leadership. She works tirelessly for the good of our department and most importantly our student-athletes. During an incredibly trying year in athletics, she has consistently shown support for our coaches and athletes while also fighting to balance the good of all in the decisions being made around practice and competition. She has consistently shared our stories and concerns with higher administration in order to advocate for the mental health and well-being of our student-athletes and coaches, and she has remained constant in her support of us in the day-to-day operations throughout these unprecedented times. As coaches, we know that she will always take the time to listen to our needs and do everything in her power to help us be successful. She has repeatedly been recognized on a national level (twice just this year) for her skills as an athletic administrator and has served in various capacities within our national governing bodies, always representing Rollins in a first-class manner.” — Mika Robinson

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Sofia Macias ’14 ’20MBA, community coordinator, Center for Leadership & Community Engagement

“Sofia is one of the most incredible leaders on our campus. She has used her Rollins education and her life experience to give back to the College in meaningful and thoughtful ways. From her work with community partners to welcoming and inspiring connections with students, Sofia is an admired colleague and staff member. I am so grateful to know and love her!” — Abby Hollern

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Michelle Tichy, adjunct education professor

“Dr. Michelle Tichy rocked my world and was a breath of fresh air. Her innovative ideas of social justice and views on African American males in the educational system in relation to incarceration rates shook me to the core and moved me to social action and a field study collaboration with the Black Males Explorer Program of Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach. Her open forums and discussion-based classroom culture nurture inquiry and community involvement. It was freeing and validating to have a professional educator recognize, question, and examine issues here in Florida that we have become accustomed to. She came to the Rollins campus right on time, with the rise of Black Lives Matter and social injustice inequalities in the educational system. She is an inspiration and motivation because she reaches the level of the students and focuses on relevant, real-life scenarios. She is fearless, approachable, professional, and nurturing—the kind of educational advocate we need so urgently in Central Florida. I will forever be grateful for her influence and the light she shines in the world.” — Vivianne Nieves

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Joan Davison, political science professor; faculty NCAA representative

“When I was first considering taking a position at Rollins, Joan was one of the first people I met. Her passion for our students, our coaches, and our College’s mission were clearly evident in the amount of time she was willing to spend with me as well as in how she spoke about the opportunities and challenges that we face. That passion has only become clearer during my time here. She is always willing to engage, listen, and problem-solve with coaches and student-athletes no matter how large or small the obstacle, and her constant presence at all of our athletic events speaks volumes about her passionate support of our efforts. Joan’s service to our student-athletes and coaches is unparalleled on our campus. From always responding immediately to academic challenges to proactively identifying opportunities and obstacles for all of our student-athletes, Joan consistently goes above and beyond in serving our entire department. One would be hard pressed to find anyone on our campus who is more resourceful and knowledgeable about academics. She makes a point to get to know the newest faculty members and to have strong relationships with her most senior colleagues. She serves on a wide range of campus and national committees and stays current on both Rollins and NCAA policies. As a former athlete herself (who still engages in an active lifestyle), Joan not only shows up to games to support our athletes but also engages in those contests in a first-class manner. She encourages our players and coaches as well as our opponents and often takes the time to compliment them on a job well done. It is impossible to know Joan and not have admiration for how she manages to balance it all. She is a well-respected and accomplished scholar, a sought-after administrator, a truly engaged teacher, and an unparalleled advocate for our student-athletes. Meanwhile, she can consistently be seen working out or shooting baskets in the early hours of the morning, taking trips with her family (pre-pandemic), and finding numerous ways to be involved in her community.” — Mika Robinson

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Andrea Massey-Farrell ’98, CEO/president, Harvey and Carol Massey Foundation

“On one of the happiest and most accomplished days of my life, I stood on the Rollins College commencement stage accepting the honor of Outstanding Graduating Senior at the Hamilton Holt School. After my trials and tribulations in life, this was the moment I had always dreamed of—graduating from college! Little did I know that to my left stood one of the area’s most powerful women, Andrea Massey-Farrell, who is continuing her family’s legacy in Central Florida. But her power does not come from what you might imagine—in my eyes, it comes from her humility and desire to make a difference in our community. As I have come to learn, Andrea has a big heart with a love for family first and a passion to do good for others. Our bond was born from our mutual love for the Holt School. I had the privilege to work alongside her during the Holt School dean search. She is a super-champion for the Holt School and everything it stands for, especially as a life-changer for both of us. I admire how much of her time she gives back to the Rollins community in a variety of meaningful ways. Andrea has been a mentor and coach from the sidelines to me, and likely, to many others I don't even know about. She continues to live out our Rollins mission through responsible leadership and an incredibly productive career. While she is quite successful, she’s not one to be in the spotlight, and that’s exactly why she is revered. Andrea’s disciplined approach, hard work, and dedication make her a past, present, and future woman to honor at Rollins.” — Doragnes Bradshaw ’18 ’20MBA ’23DBA