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Campus Ministry

Compassion and Equality

The Center for Social Concern is pleased to announce Megan Dickinson, class of ’23, and Laura Toomb, senior lecturer in Communications, as the 2023 Miryam Award recipients. 

Each year, the Miryam Award recognizes those in our UD community who have contributed to improving and advancing the climate for women on campus.  The selection committee, comprised of representatives from across campus, was highly impressed with the contributions of both Laura and Megan.

Laura Toomb, UD ’88 graduate and senior lecturer in Communications since 2015, was nominated by Susan Brown, former Director of Faculty Development in the LTC.  For the past three years, Laura has been reaching out to grieving mothers who have lost children, after the tragic death of her son, Jack, at age 23, of sudden cardiac arrest due to an undiagnosed heart condition. 

To process the loss of her son, Laura began writing down her thoughts and experiences, bit by bit, into what eventually became a published book, SONflowers from HEAVEN, The Unbearable Loss of a Child: A Journey of Grief.  Her book has sold more than 1000 copies, and more importantly, has provided guidance and comfort to others who have lost loved ones.

Laura also began reaching out to other mothers who have lost children in the UD community, providing support, a listening ear, a compassionate heart. Through a bond no one wishes to share, she has helped many to find healing and grace.  Here at UD, she has personally touched the lives of those who have lost children, as well has comforted mothers of UD students who have died.

Laura’s relationship with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with her own mother, have inspired her to find strength and realness through her own journey of loss.  Susan Brown, who also lost a son, writes of Laura in her nomination, “Laura’s own loss has placed her in a unique position to understand and empathize with other bereaved mothers.  She serves in a quiet way, behind the scenes, and has made a tremendous difference in the lives of more women affiliated with UD than can be known. She has drawn upon her own tragedy to fill an ever-widening gap.”

Megan Dickinson is a senior, majoring in Health Sciences focused on Integrative Physiology.  She began her college career at the University of Pittsburgh and transferred to UD in the Spring of 2021.  Megan had started playing water polo at Pitt and loved the sport; so when she came to UD, she joined the team, which was re-emerging post-COVID.  Club Water Polo at UD has been male-dominated, though the sport can be co-ed and women have played in the past.  Unfortunately, the climate on the team for women had not retained female players, until Megan began working for a change.

Megan’s leadership in providing a welcoming and safe place for females on the team, recruiting more women, and offering social and study opportunities to promote community has drastically changed the shape of the Water Polo Club.  Currently, the team is composed of about 9-11 women and 15-20 men.  Megan’s teammate, Allison O’Gorman, nominated her for this year’s Miryam Award.  She states in her nomination, “In just three years of her being on the team, the water polo club has shifted from a non-serious “boys club” environment to an accepting team of committed players of all genders, which I believe Megan played a huge part in.”  

Through a welcoming leadership style, Megan has been able to shift the culture of the team.  She also has had to have some difficult conversations with team members about what it means to create a positive place for all.  She attributes her bold leadership and ability to address injustice to her parents, always teaching her to be a strong leader and speak up for what is right.  

Although Megan suffered a serious injury last season and no longer can play water polo, she remains a steady leader on the team and has taken on coaching responsibilities. 

After she graduates this Spring, Megan plans to go to graduate school to become a Physician’s Assistant.  

Both Miryam Award recipients were honored at a ceremony on March 27.

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