On the Ridge

College of Education Dean, Recent Graduate Named ‘Women of Distinction’ by the Niagara Gazette

Niagara University’s College of Education was well represented at an event held in May to pay homage to women who are making a difference in the community.

Dr. Debra Colley, dean of the college, and Kalani Personius, a 2012 graduate, were honored by the Niagara Gazette as Women of Distinction for 2012 during a ceremony at the Como Restaurant in downtown Niagara Falls. They follow in the footsteps of 2011 honoree Patricia Wrobel, the college’s assistant dean for external relations.

“These women are making the community a better and brighter place to live,” wrote Niagara Gazette publisher Peter Mio. “It’s a true honor for the Gazette to shine a spotlight on their determination, purposefulness and the source of inspiration they bring.”

The women were chosen for their achievements, public service and entrepreneurial leadership in the Niagara community.

Dr. Colley became the second recipient of the Joan Wolfgang Community Service Award, which is presented to those who embody the late community leader’s dedication, professionalism and “real love” for the community.

Dr. Colley, who worked in the Buffalo public school system and the New York State Department of Education before NU, is described as being passionate about teaching, regardless of the challenges.

“I’ve always been an advocate for young people with disabilities,” Dr. Colley told Gazette reporter Rick Pfeiffer. “I was drawn to fields (of education) that were not that popular.”

This marked the first year that college students were included as honorees, with Mio calling Personius and Niagara County Community College student Morgan Waple “true role models for the youth of the community.”

After spending four years on the cross-county team, including one as captain, Personius graduated from NU on Saturday with a degree in French education and a minor in Spanish. The Binghamton native was also responsible for opening a weekly soup kitchen in the basement of St. George’s Church in Niagara Falls. She will soon begin a career as an English teacher in France.

“Kalani has a special love for the poor and provides a sense of dignity to all people she encounters,” the Rev. Kevin Creagh, C.M., NU’s associate vice president of ministry, told the Gazette’s Timothy Chipp.

A special section highlighting the 2012 Women of Distinction was inserted in the May 14 edition of the Niagara Gazette.