What do a French author and philosopher, a Byzantine empress and a former Prime Minister of Pakistan have in common? All were present at this year's Famous Women's Dinner, held on campus on Friday, March 28.
In honor of Women's History Month, the Famous Women's Dinner serves as an opportunity for William Smith students to portray and learn more about women who have shaped our world. Represented at this year's dinner were writer and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (Cristina Bain '08), Empress Theodora of the Byzantine Empire (Christa Levesque '11), Red Cross founder Clara Barton (Nicole Henderson '08), former Prime Minister of Pakistan and recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto (Katy Goodrich '08), Queen of Egypt Cleopatra (Kelsey Blair '11) and Queen consort of both England and France Elinor of Aquitaine (Grace Lyttle '10).
The highlight of the dinner is the presenting of the William Smith Alumna Achievement Award. As Dean Debra DeMeis stated during her welcome, the award is “a time for us to honor our own.” The award for 2008 was given to Dr. Kathy Platoni '74.
A Colonel in the U.S. Army with 28 years of service, Platoni is an expert in hypnotherapy and the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. She has been deployed four times—one stateside tour of duty during the Gulf War, a command of a Combat Stress Control Detachment at Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, one tour of duty in Iraq, and once during the aftermath of 9/11 to support the New York Police Department at Ground Zero.
Platoni referred to the award as the “pinnacle and apogee of my career.” She went on to state, “I am honored beyond words. It makes me feel like a rock star.” Jokingly referring to her antic-ridden past, Platoni thanked her friends and family “for believing I could be more than a hardened criminal.”
A slideshow was presented of Platoni's time at HWS titled “The Lunatic Years.” The final slide thanked William Smith College “for helping me to be all that I can be.” President Mark Gearan then addressed Platoni, applauding her for all her achievements. He also pointed out the slideshow as an example of a certain policy put into effect during his time with the Clinton Administration: “Don't ask, don't tell.”
After dinner, Chaplain Lesley Adams offered the conclusion by addressing the attendees with a quote from Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet Mary Oliver: “'I don't want to end up simply visiting this world.' Women of William Smith, you are not visitors.”