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News Release

Northwest on Wednesday recognized outstanding nominees for Influential Women of Northwest. Pictured left to right in the first row are Amanda Cullin, Ashlee Hendrix, Cayla Vertreese and Rachel Adamson. In the back row are Carolyn Johnson, Stancy Bond, Annie Punt, Carol Spradling and Jill Brown. (Photo by Andrew Bowman/Northwest Missouri State University)

Northwest on Wednesday recognized outstanding nominees for Influential Women of Northwest. Pictured left to right in the first row are Amanda Cullin, Ashlee Hendrix, Cayla Vertreese and Rachel Adamson. In the back row are Carolyn Johnson, Stancy Bond, Annie Punt, Carol Spradling and Jill Brown. (Photo by Andrew Bowman/Northwest Missouri State University)

April 2, 2021

Annual event recognizes ‘Influential Women of Northwest’

Northwest Missouri State University concluded its commemoration of Women’s History Month Wednesday by recognizing three individuals as “Influential Women of Northwest” and six others as outstanding nominees.

The Northwest community is annually invited to nominate female students, faculty and staff at the University who have positively influenced lives and made outstanding contributions to the community.

A Women’s History Month advisory board of Northwest faculty, staff and students identified three outstanding nominations in each of the three categories – faculty, staff and students – before selecting a recipient for each award.

Rikki Frucht received the faculty award, and Amanda Cullin received the staff award. Cayla Vertreese received the Lonnae Young Influential Student Award, which is named in remembrance of Lonnae Young, a Northwest student who died unexpectedly in 2019.

The names of each of the outstanding nominees in each category and excerpts from their nominator’s comments are provided below.

Northwest celebrated Women’s History Month throughout March with activities aligned with the national theme of “Valiant Women of the Vote” in recognition of the women’s suffrage movement and the centennial of women securing the right to vote in 1920. National Women’s History Month was founded in 1987 when the U.S. Congress declared that it be celebrated each March. A presidential proclamation is issued annually to honor the achievements of American women


Faculty awards

Rikki Frucht (award recipient)

Frucht retired as a professor of history at Northwest in 2008 after 28 years. In addition to service as chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, she authored and edited numerous publications, including the award-winning “Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe,” and led student trips to destinations across Europe, Russia and Egypt.

Her nominator comments included: “While at Northwest, Rikki was not able to live her true, authentic life as a woman and was not seen as someone qualified for this award. She was hemmed in by societal constraints and by the more conservative nature of the University community in the 1990s and 2000s. Now she is able to live freely and fully – and is working to help Northwest LGBT+ students do the same.”

“Rikki did so much as a faculty member, chair and student advisor, and since leaving Northwest she has continued to devote time, energy and money to this institution. Most recently she and her wife established a series of student scholarships for LGBT+ students, the first that we have had on our campus.”

Stancy Bond (outstanding nominee)

Bond is a senior instructor of English and joined the Northwest faculty in 2012. She serves as an advisor of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and coordinator of the Writing Center in addition to serving as a member of the Savannah School Board.

Her nominator comments included: “She is incredibly involved in her personal life. She still finds time to dedicate herself to Northwest and her students. She has positively impacted every student that she’s had. Any person who has come in to contact with her could tell you that she is a one-of-a-kind woman.”

Dr. Carol Spradling (outstanding nominee)

Spradling retired in 2020 as a professor of computer science and information systems in the School of Computer Science and Information Systems after 32 years as a faculty member at Northwest. In addition to service as director of the School, she co-founded the Missouri Iowa Nebraska Kansas Women in Computing Conference and received the 2012 Governor's Award for Excellence in Education.

Her nominator comments included: “Carol has been a tireless and innovative leader in the Northwest faculty and community for years. She continues to contribute in retirement in a mentorship and advising role as well as leading the Foundation Board’s Cybersecurity Subcommittee. A brilliant leader in the Northwest Faculty Committee, she will continue to inspire diversity in the underrepresented populations in STEM professions.”

“Carol is a role model and inspiration for those who aspire to success in non-traditional career fields.”


Staff awards

Amanda Cullin (award recipient)

Cullin is a lieutenant for administration with the University Police Department. She supports a variety of organizations, including We Gotchya, Active Minds and Ten Squared Women of Nodaway County. In 2018, she received a Northwest Excellence Award for Civility.

Her nominator comments included: “Amanda is a source of positivity on campus. As part of a supportive team at University Police, she is a friendly face of Northwest, helping the entire campus community operate smoothly.”

“Amanda puts others first and uses her leadership position to be a role model for students, faculty and staff.”

“Amanda’s support for women’s causes both on campus and off are Hollywood-style inspirational.”

Jill Brown (outstanding nominee)

Brown is the director of partnerships and placement in Career Services, having joined Northwest in 2017. She has played critical roles in establishing and supporting the University’s Career Closet and organizing PBL Palooza, a student poster showcase event.

Her nominator comments included: “Anyone who knows Jill well knows that she is the very embodiment of tireless, ceaseless, relentless, positive energy. There is not a day in our office where Jill doesn’t bring a smile, a compliment and encouragement or a joke, and these all flow out of her natural, genuinely kind spirit.”

“She brings her relentless positive energy to Northwest every day because she loves the work. She loves the challenge. She loves the relationships. She loves being here. She loves the grind. She doesn’t love the awards.”

Ashlee Hendrix (outstanding nominee)

Hendrix joined Northwest in 2015 and is a senior graphic designer in the Office of University Marketing and Communication. In addition to playing an active role in Northwest ally groups, she is a candidate for Maryville City Council.

Her nominator comments included: “In addition to being a woman of color herself, Ashlee has fully committed herself to ally-ship for other communities of people by spearheading the ally employee group on campus. She has made that entity active and engaged with 15 to 20 people attending meetings and participating in workshops and other events.”

“Ashlee is someone who would never promote herself or the work that she does but she is always listening, working and active. She creates so much good on this campus.”


Lonnae Young Influential Student Award

Cayla Vertreese (award recipient)

Vertreese is a senior human services major from Lee’s Summit, Missouri. An Influential Women outstanding nominee in 2020, she is involved with Active Minds and co-organized a Black Lives Matter event in Maryville last year.

Her nominator comments included: “It was so important to have this protest in town, and I am thankful for Cayla’s leadership in making it happen. Her work has done a lot to move the conversation here in Maryville and on the Northwest campus forward.”

“Cayla’s continued commitment to change and to supporting others is truly impressive.”

“Cayla is the type of woman we all aspire to be and will give the shirt off her back to a stranger without a second thought.”

Rachel Adamson (outstanding nominee)

Adamson is a senior multimedia journalism major from Gladstone, Missouri. She has served for two years as editor-in-chief of The Northwest Missourian, which was named the best college newspaper in the state of Missouri in 2020 by the Missouri College Media Association.  

“In some ways, Rachel has likely affected the lives of more students and staff members than any other nominee by leading a publication that reaches thousands of readers every week. Rachel has pushed The Missourian to cover underrepresented students at a higher volume than ever before and has made sure incidents of injustice on campus and in the community don’t go unaddressed in the paper’s news section. Her leadership has helped set an ethical, considerate agenda for the paper and, through it, for the community.”

“Throughout the last two years, the paper has held the powerful accountable on and off campus, largely thanks to Rachel’s steady, empathetic leadership at the helm of the paper. She has deftly guided the paper out of financial trouble and into communal relevance by pushing reporters to want the best out of themselves. And in doing so, she has touched the lives of dozens of staffers and countless readers.”

Annie Punt (outstanding nominee)

Punt is a junior public relations major from Omaha, Nebraska. She is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority, serving as chapter president and Panhellenic president, in addition to Student Senate, AdInk and CommCats. She works as a student ambassador and as an office assistant in the Office of Student Involvement.

Her nominator comments included: “Students at Northwest look up to her for her leadership skills and selfless personality.”

“In all of these clubs and organizations, she holds leadership positions in which she leads by example and with compassion, not by force. She is someone who focuses on inclusion and embodies that within her everyday life.”


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215