'Hats Off to Women' honors nine at UF

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 9:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 9:55 p.m.

Lace hats. Floppy hats. Hats with bows. Feathered hats. Sun hats. Every shape, size and color.

“I guess you could say that black women have a history with hats,” laughed Tahiri Jean-Baptiste.

All those attending the Institute of Black Culture’s first “Hats Off to Women” ceremony Wednesday night at Ustler Hall on the University of Florida campus were asked to wear hats. The event honored the contributions of black women in the University of Florida community, and awards were presented to nine outstanding undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff.

“This event is to reach out to women who have done phenomenal work on campus and who have exceeded the standards beyond comprehension and to thank them for their hard work,” said Jean-Baptiste, a student ambassador for the Institute of Black Culture.

Awards were given to Sharon Austin, Angeleah Browdy, Patricia Hilliard-Nunn, LaToya Hunter, the late Ruby Mae Moore, Breanne Palmer, Brandi Pritchett-Johnson, Monya Sharp and Tarena Stanley.

Recipients were recognized for giving back to the community with their time and talent. The criteria called for women who are role models and advocate for positive social change, those who are dedicated to helping and supporting women achieve their goals and those who exhibit leadership and integrity.

Women from UF and the Gainesville community donned decorated hats throughout the night while honorees, family members and guests enjoyed dinner and entertainment.

Browdy, director of the UF Office of Academic Support, was among the nine honored. Her black, laced hat had been passed down to her by her aunt, she said.

“It’s not something that happens every day, and it’s not something that you look to be recognized for, so that just makes it even more pleasing,” Browdy said. “It’s just such a pleasant surprise.”

Attorney Phillis Rambsy was guest speaker for the event. She challenged the audience to learn to fight so that they may always be better than the person they were the day before.

“They say fighters know how to take lemons and make lemonade. Well, I say fighters know how to take lemons and we make lemonade, lemon meringue pie and we make lemon-drop martinis,” Rambsy said.

In addition to the award, each honoree was given a bottle of sparkling wine with her face on the bottle — a surprise that Jean-Baptiste was most excited to present.

“I feel like a lot of people who do good work, especially women, don’t get noticed, so I think it’s nice to say, ‘hey, someone sees what you’re doing and it’s awesome and it’s great — keep doing it,’ ” Jean-Baptiste said.

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