Three Harford County students — Claudia Bruce, Grace Callwood, and Shadiamond Kell — were named Women of Tomorrow for 2019.
The Women of Tomorrow Awards, a program of the Harford County Commission for Women, are bestowed upon young women from the seventh to the 12th grade who stand out for their academic achievements and contributions to their communities.
The three winners were named during a Wednesday evening ceremony at the Richlin Catering & Event Center in Edgewood, when all 11 nominees were honored. Winners were selected in categories of seventh- and eighth-grades, ninth- and 10th-grades and high school juniors and seniors.
Mary Hastler, CEO of the Harford County Public Library and chair of the Commission for Women, served as the evening’s emcee and noted that the awards program is “all about service.”
Amber Shrodes, director of the Harford County Department of Community Services, and County Executive Barry Glassman gave welcoming remarks.
Shrodes said the nominees are “simply phenomenal, and you will be amazed with all that they have accomplished.” She also thanked parents and caregivers for their encouragement and support of the nominees and those who nominated the young women, “for sharing their stories with us [so] that we can applaud their contributions.”
“These special young women have already begun to make their mark on Harford County through their academic achievements and their volunteerism,” Glassman said. “Together, they are strengthening our communities and changing the world.”
Callwood, 14, of Abingdon, is an eighth-grader at Edgewood Middle School where she has a 4.0 grade point average and plans to enroll in the Global Studies/International Baccalaureate magnet program at Edgewood High School. The childhood cancer survivor founded the We Cancerve Movement Inc., an organization that supports children living with illness, in foster care and youths who are homeless.
“I’m very honored and blessed to have this award,” Callwood said. “I’m very excited, and I’m just very proud of all the women that were nominated.”
She said her takeaways from the awards program include “to follow your dreams and that education matters.”
“We can make a difference and that we should have a fair say, as women, of what we are able to do,” she added.
Kell, 16, of Aberdeen, is a sophomore at Aberdeen High School where she has a 4.125 GPA, takes honors and AP classes and is part of the schools AVID (Advancement VIA Individual Determination) college and career preparation program. Kell is also active at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, where she is in the culinary ministry, leads the Youth and Young Adult Choir as well as the Shooting Stars Choir for children ages 3 to 6.
She thanked God for the opportunity, as well as her family and nominator, Cora C. Wilson-Waters, noting that, “without them, I wouldn’t be here today.” She also thanked the commission for choosing her as a winner.
“Everything I do is going to impact everyone around me, so I have to make sure to be an inspiration to others,” Kell said.
Bruce, 18, of Darlington, is a senior at The John Carroll School in Bel Air. She has a 4.0 GPA and takes dual enrollment, honors and AP classes, plus she is president of the senior class. Bruce has taken part in a number of volunteer initiatives such as putting together a coat drive for Anna’s House, which provides housing for families dealing with domestic violence, financial challenges or addiction and mental health issues. She also raised money to provide vision screenings at local health and daycare centers.
Bruce, who lists famed female pilot Amelia Earhart as an inspiration, is working to earn a private pilot’s license, with plans to fly for organizations such as Angel Flight to provide non-emergency medical transportation and even pet rescue flights.
Bruce expressed excitement and surprise at her win “because there are so many great nominees.”
“I think that being even nominated as a woman of tomorrow definitely shows that I have made a difference within my community, and that I can help others to also make differences within our community,” she said.
The evening was also a time to recognize this year’s Woman of the Past, the late Veronica “Roni” Chenowith, a Fallston resident who represented the Abingdon and Fallston areas in the District B seat on the Harford County Council for 15 years. She was also an active supporter of many community organizations, such as the Fallston Recreation Council, the Youth’s Benefit Elementary School PTA, the Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center, the Harford County Public Library Board of Trustees and HCPL Foundation, plus many others. She also was a co-founder of Harford United Charities.
Fallston’s recreation and senior center is named for Chenowith, who died from cancer in 2009. Her husband, Joseph, accepted the Woman of the Past award in her honor Wednesday.
“I’m glad to see everybody, and I’m glad to see the new women of the future,” he said.
Mary Chance, a former director of administration for the county government and a retiring member of the Commission for Women, spoke about Chenowith.
“Roni was a shining example of what it means to be a community person with passion, and that’s what I hope for each one of you young ladies who are here this evening,” Chance said.
Brittany Trocher, an internal communications specialist for the Parsons Corporation, was honored as the Woman of the Present and was the keynote speaker.
She spoke about her nearly 10-year career of working with defense contractors, such as Parsons, that support soldiers at Aberdeen Proving Ground, as well as her volunteer efforts to support local military families suffering the loss of a loved one while in the Army as well as STEM initiatives for members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County in Aberdeen.
Trocher, a 2010 graduate of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, discussed her experiences of dealing with gender stereotypes, especially as a young director and team leader. She emphasized the importance of finding a mentor during one’s career and serving as a mentor to newer colleagues.
“As young female leaders, you have to do your best to empower other women and break down the barrier walls of the negative stereotypes, and always make sure to lean in and ‘take a seat at the table’ as [Facebook chief operating officer] Sheryl Sandberg says,” Trocher told the nominees.