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St. Bonaventure University graduate student Hannah Gordon has been named the 2017 recipient of the Dr. Mary A. Hamilton Woman of Promise award.
Gordon will receive the award at a ceremony Thursday, March 16, in Dresser Auditorium of the John J. Murphy Professional Building on campus. The program begins at 4 p.m. and is open to the public.
The award is named in honor of Dr. Mary Hamilton, ’59, retired associate professor and professor emerita with the Jandoli School of Communication. The Woman of Promise Award recognizes a female student from the Jandoli School who has excelled both in and out of the classroom, set an example for peers and demonstrated great promise for success in future endeavors.
Gordon, who is from Lackawanna, graduated a semester early from St. Bonaventure with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication and is pursuing a graduate degree in integrated marketing communications at the university. While she earned her bachelor’s degree, Gordon was heavily involved on campus. She worked at The Bona Venture student newspaper from the first day of her freshman year until she graduated, earning her position as editor-in-chief during her junior year. She was involved with advocacy groups Spectrum (LGBTQ+ Alliance) and SBU for Equality. At present, Gordon is the editor of the Emerging Revolutionary War book series.
School of Communication Dean Dr. Pauline Hoffmann was impressed with Gordon’s curiosity and poise the first time she met her.
“One of the first things Hannah did on campus was introduce herself to me. Not every student, let alone a freshman, is willing to walk into the dean’s office to say hello and to tell me what her goals are,” Hoffmann said. “I find that especially refreshing and impressive for a young woman. She maintains a curiosity about the world and a compassion for people – skills that have served her well as a young journalist and will continue to serve her well.”
“I’m so thankful for the faculty of the J-school,” Gordon said. “They’ve given me amazing opportunities. Dean Hoffmann includes me in the NYS Women Inc. dinners where I can network with Western New York businesswomen. Carole McNall always has her office door open for a chat and Kimberly DeSimone has become a mentor and a friend to me; she encourages me follow my passions and invites me to speak to her classes so I can get teaching experience. Chris Mackowski brought me on as a designer for the Emerging Civil War books, which led to him offering me the position as editor of the Emerging Revolutionary War book series.”
Gordon has honed her skills in a number of internships, including The Buffalo News and USA Today College. During her sophomore year, she studied in Prague, Czech Republic, and she plans to study at Oxford University this summer.
“When I stop to think about the opportunities afforded to me in the Jandoli School and the wonderful faculty I’ve been so lucky to get to know, I feel infinitely blessed. Where else could I walk into the dean’s office just to say hi? This place is special,” added Gordon.
Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek will serve as keynote speaker at the Woman of Promise event. Wojtaszek was elected Niagara County district attorney in November 2016, the first woman elected to the position.
Wojtaszek became a top prosecutor during the 12 years she worked as assistant district attorney for Niagara County; for the past six years she was the confidential law clerk to Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon. Sheldon handled half of Niagara County’s felony criminal cases and Wojtaszek’s extensive legal experience and expertise in criminal law contributed significantly to the fair and effective functioning of the court.
While serving in the DA’s office from 1998 to 2010, Wojtaszek earned convictions in numerous high-profile cases. As a member of the DA’s Special Victims Unit, she concentrated on domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault cases. As one of the first women in Niagara County to lead the prosecution of a murder case, she gained the convictions of three defendants for the murder of a 16-year-old girl in Niagara Falls and convicted a serial rapist from Lockport.
As leader in the fight against domestic violence, she helped develop Niagara County’s domestic violence protocols that later served as a model for district attorneys statewide. She coordinated training for lawyers and service providers working in the criminal justice system with those suffering from mental health problems and in the investigation and prosecution of cases involving Shaken Baby Syndrome. She also served on several committees, including the Child Abuse Intervention Project, the Family Violence Intervention Project, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program and the Rape Crisis Advisory Board. She served on the board of the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier and was a member of its Domestic Violence Committee.
While earning her law degree at the State University at Buffalo she was head coordinator of the law school’s Domestic Violence Task Force. She also worked as acting domestic violence coordinator for Niagara County as a law student.
Before entering law school, Wojtaszek graduated magna cum laude from the State University College at Brockport with dual majors in political science and sociology. As an undergraduate she studied abroad at Oxford University in England and worked as a congressional intern in Washington, D.C. She lives in North Tonawanda.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #6 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.
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