NOSW Founder, Jane Stephenson, to present keynote speech during Convocation

A traditional celebration marking the start of a new academic year, Convocation features notable alumni speakers each year.

For this year’s Convocation, New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) Founder and Lees-McRae alumna, Jane Stephenson ’57, will take to the podium to share her speech titled, “Where is Your Center of the Universe?”

She will present her speech to a full Hayes Auditorium and Broyhill Theatre on Thursday, August 23, at 3:30 p.m.

Focusing on the impact Lees-McRae has made in both her life as well as students and members of the community, Stephenson’s speech emphasizes the importance of higher education especially as it applies in the young lives of its students.

A long-time leader, advisor, and advocate for residents living in the High Country, Stephenson has a legacy of helping those around her.

Stephenson established the NOSW in 1987 at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, with a mission to serve low-income, under-educated Appalachian women. Since its start, the program has graduated more than 900 women in Appalachia and has expanded locations both here at Lees-McRae and at Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia.

Within the same time frame, Stephenson also held positions as the academic support services director at the University of Kentucky from 1980 to 1983, human relations center director from 1983 to 1984, and the Steele-Reese Foundation Appalachian director from 1998 to 2007.

From 2001 until 2012, Stephenson served on the Lees-McRae Board of Trustees and from 2006 to 2009 was appointed as chair. A few years later in 2014, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities during the Commencement Ceremony.

Much, if not all, of Stephenson’s accomplishments center in assisting residents of the High Country, with a special emphasis on women.

In 2006, she earned both the Kentucky Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Governor Martha Layne Collins Leadership Award. Just three years prior, Stephenson was featured in People Magazine for her work and again on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show after receiving Winfrey’s Angel Network “Use Your Life Award.”

More recently, Stephenson was presented in 2015 with the Champions of Appalachia Award and another recognition in 2017 as the Eastern Kentucky Leadership Award recipient.

By Nina MastandreaAugust 22, 2018