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Women's Hall of Fame inducts MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon

October 20, 2016
MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon gives thanks for her induction into the Hall of Fame on Oct. 19, 2016 at Kellog Center in East Lansing. The event was put on for all of the newest members of the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. Lets was the first African-American teacher in the Lansing School District.
MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon gives thanks for her induction into the Hall of Fame on Oct. 19, 2016 at Kellog Center in East Lansing. The event was put on for all of the newest members of the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. Lets was the first African-American teacher in the Lansing School District. —
Photo by Victor DiRita | and Victor DiRita The State News

The Kellogg Center was full of laughter and celebration, stylish women and TV crews Wednesday night.

History was made. It recorded the induction of nine women and one women’s group into the the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, including MSU’s 20th president — and first woman president — Lou Anna K. Simon.

“There’s an extraordinary set of people who have been apart of this,” Simon said. “I just feel humbled and privileged to be on the list that includes so many extraordinary people.”

Simon was recognized for her work at MSU, and her initiatives to develop MSU economically and globally through international engagement and advancing MSU’s research in the science sector.

“You never recognize that you’re a path breaker until somebody else tells you that,” Simon said. “It really is a sense that each of us can play an important role in the lives of others.”

Each year, the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame inducts five contemporary and five historical nominees into the Hall. Other contemporary honorees were Dr. Anan Ameri, Rev. Faith Fowler, Dr. Olivia Letts and Diana Ross.

The Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame was put together by the Michigan Historical Center and Hall of Fame and resides in Lansing. Caitlyn Perry Dial, interim executive director of the Women's Hall of Fame and Historical Center, said she was proud to see the event finally come to full fruition.

“It’s really incredible to be able to represent Lansing and represent Michigan women,” Dial said. “You know, when the nominations come in March, we get over one hundred. So it’s really anyone’s guess on who’s going to get it. But it was really a great feeling to find out that Lansing was so well represented this year.”

Alongside President Simon, Olivia Letts of Lansing was also inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. She was the first African-American school teacher to be hired into the Lansing School District and advocated for more teachers of color to be hired in.

“I feel very honored and very blessed,” Letts said. “We talk about living up to one’s potential. Whatever my potential was, many people have helped me along the way.”

Historical inductees included Elizabeth Spark Adams, Daisy Elliott, Dr. Evelyn Golden and the Mary Free Bed Guild. Golden was the first female intern at Flint’s Hurley Hospital and one of her daughters flew in from California to receive her medal in her honor.

“We have six siblings, and three are here this evening to represent the family,” Janey Golden said. “We are so proud to be here. Our mother was just out there. She had that ‘don’t try to stop me’ attitude.”

Janey’s sister, Debra Golden Steinman, was also in attendance. She echoed Janey’s pride in her mother.

“You know, she was the world’s best mom to us,” Steinman said. “We never knew all the things that she was really out there doing. But we’re so proud.”

To students in attendance, like history senior Micaela Procopio, the event was inspiring. She’s an intern at the Historical Center. This is her second time attending a Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame induction and she said she loves them.

“It just honors Michigan women,” Procopio said. “Some might be known on a large scale, but others are known on a smaller scale and they’re still valuable and important to our state.”

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