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Wilson College Equity for Women Award Winners: Past and Present

the graduate commons at the wilson college of textiles

By Destry Adams

The Equity for Women Award is given to NC State students, faculty and staff who have helped create opportunities that will assist women in their respective fields.

This year, Latasia Priest, Director of Alumni Engagement and Strategic Initiatives for the North Carolina Textile Foundation (NCTF), won the Equity for Women Award in the Staff Category for creating opportunities for women across the university.

Priest has been instrumental in supporting women across different boards at NC State and mentoring students from marginalized groups.

In addition, other members of theWilson College of Textiles community have won the award in the past.

professional headshot of Latasia Priest

Latasia Priest | Staff Winner, 2022

Priest says she is a woman who likes to keep herself busy. She is involved with numerous organizations at NC State, many of which help promote equity for women and people of color. 

“I see joining organizations as a way to enhance the culture at the institution and to provide an opportunity to share an expertise and share an area of interest with others. For me, it’s a way to create community,” Priest says.

Priest believes that diversity in the textile and fashion industries is critical to their success and growth.

“Diversity is important because we need the people within our global community to see themselves represented within any industry, and the textile industry and fashion industry are no different,” Priest says. 

Through the NCTF, Priest helped create the TexTell series, where the Wilson College invites alumni to talk about their educational experiences and what they have accomplished in their fields. Last year, two TexTell, HERStory and Cross Cultural Experiences, encouraged alumni who are women and/or people of color to share their stories.

Priest is also a mentor for the Chancellor Leadership Development Program, where she helps first-generation or rural first-year college students succeed in their educational journey. This year, Priest is mentoring  three Black female students. As an advisor, she wants to create a welcoming environment.

“They know they have someone who looks like them that they can air their grievances to, can let their hair down with and can be themselves around,” Priest says. 

In addition to volunteering for the Chancellor Leadership Development Program, Priest is also involved with the Wolfpack Women in Philanthropy (WWiP) organization, which was founded in July 2019.

“For nearly two years, I’ve supported the Leadership and Advocacy Committee,” Priest says. “All boards are important at NC State, but we want women to have the opportunity to participate on those boards, particularly those who make decisions that enhance our colleges and the institution.”

Winning the Equity for Women Award reminded Priest of the accomplishments her colleagues have made.

“When I think about this award, I don’t think about myself; I think about the impact that I and all my colleagues have made on the lives of women and people of color,” Priest says. “I don’t want the focus to be on me, but on how we can continue making a difference in the lives of women and underrepresented communities.”

Professional headshot of Delisha Hinton

Delisha Hinton | Staff Winner, 2020

Delisha Hinton, associate director of student services for recruitment and diversity, won the Equity for Women Award for her efforts serving as the co-chair for the Ellen Rohde Leadership Initiative Steering Committee. 

The committee was created by a donation from Ellen Rohde to the Wilson College of Textiles. The board was dedicated to helping women in the Wilson College obtain positions of leadership through professional development.

“It was an effort to try and elevate women through professional development, that would allow them to continue growing,” Hinton says.

As the co-chair of the committee, Hinton was responsible for finding ways to help women succeed in their respective fields while also raising awareness of issues they face in the textile and fashion industry.

One of the things Hinton helped create while serving in the committee were the Professional Development Grants. These grants gave students, faculty and staff within the Wilson College money to advance their education or career, such as giving recipients the funds to attend a conference to present their research.

“We both had to work through the process of developing these professional development grants,” Hinton says. “Getting a review committee together, selecting or identifying someone who could lead that review committee and then being able to work through all the administrative aspects of getting people their funds.”

Another event the Ellen Rohde Leadership Initiative Steering Committee hosted was the Ellen Rohde Women in Leadership Speaker Series in March of 2019.

“It was an all-woman event, where they shed light on the challenges that they faced, how they overcame those challenges and gave advice they have learned to the audience,” Hinton says.

The committee also held an event in the spring of 2021, teaching what women have done and accomplished in the textile industry all the way back to the Industrial Age.

While the committee has ended due to funding, Hinton is still finding ways to increase representation of underrepresented and underserved communities in the Wilson College, such as creating scholarships or hosting seminars and events.

Professional headshot of Kony Chaterjee

Kony Chaterjee | Graduate Student Winner, 2020

Wilson College alumna Kony Chaterjee ‘21 won the Equity for Women Award for her role as president of the Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) chapter in the Research Triangle.

After moving from India to attend graduate school, Chaterjee wanted to find more like-minded people to connect with. That is what inspired her to join the GWIS.

“Their main goals are to connect women in science from different fields to each other and to promote science and science education, especially in communities where it may not be very well promoted,” Chaterjee says. 

GWIS also hosts professional workshops to help women advance their career, such as how to create a LinkedIn profile. In addition, the organization does many community outreach events.

“We would do a lot of activities with Girl Scouts; one of them was where we actually worked with them to make slime, which is a very interesting polymer because it has a lot of different properties,” Chaterjee says. 

When Chaterjee first joined GWIS, she was the membership secretary and was responsible for community outreach, encouraging her fellow graduate students to join the organization. In her second and third years with the organization, she served as the chapter’s president.

“It was actually an amazing, enriching experience,” Chaterjee says. “I learned so many things about how to conduct yourself professionally. I think for me, it was one of the things that even got me jobs and internships because people were very interested in my outreach efforts.”

One of Chaterjee’s major accomplishments at GWIS was to help create the Jennifer Leigh Ingram Travel Award, a scholarship that grants recipients funds to travel to conferences and organizations to present their projects or research papers.

Chaterjee’s accomplishments in the GWIS were noticed by Dr. Melissa Pasquinelli. Pasquinelli helped her transition into the doctoral program and offered her general advice to succeed. Pasquinelli would later nominate Chaterjee for the award.

While Chaterjee is working hard at Logitech as a materials scientist, she is still finding ways to promote female success in her industry, such as joining the company’s women’s working group.

“Working groups do a lot of outreach within the company for what sort of support women need from each other,” Chatterjee says. “We meet. We talk. We do a lot of leadership team-building activities.” 

Chatterjee is very thankful for the reward and her experiences at NC State.

“I’m just that I’m very grateful to the awards committee for selecting me, and just to NC State in general,” Chaterjee says. “I loved my time at Wilson College of Textiles, and I definitely recommend it to anyone.”