Athena Award


U-M Alumnae Council recognizes Ms. Emily Sioma with the 2019 Athena Award

Coach Carol "Hutch" Hutchins 

On April 6, the Alumnae Council was pleased to honor Emily Sioma, Miss Michigan 2018, as the recipient of its 2019 Athena Award.

Started in 1973, the award is bestowed on outstanding alumnae who have distinguished themselves in professional and humanitarian endeavors. It’s a natural extension of the Alumnae Council’s mission of “women helping women pursue higher education at the University of Michigan since 1917.” These outstanding alumnae are examples of accomplished women in fields that may be considered difficult or inaccessible for young female students; they’re asked to return to campus to engage with students and the wider university community.

Ms. Sioma, a Grass Lake native and 2016 U-M graduate in Women's Studies came to national attention during the 2018 Miss America pagent. In what the Detroit Free Press later referred to as one of "Detroit's Top 25 Pop Culture Moments of 2018," she used her airtime to spotlight the water crisis in Flint, stating "I'm from the state with 84 percent of the U.S.'s freshwater, but none for its residents to drink." InStyle Magazine characterized her as one of "50 Women Who Are Changing the World ...They’re tough, outspoken, compassionate, and unstoppable.” The Alumnae Council recognized Ms. Sioma for raising awareness of the Michigan drinking water crisis and her on-going fight to raise awareness about sexual assault.

Past Athena Award recipients – representing such fields as the sciences, government, education, and law include former Surgeon General of the United States Antonia Novello; former editor of the Chicago Tribune Ann Marie Lipinski; ecologist and author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment, Sandra Steingraber; Lorissa MacAllister, founder and President of Enviah (, a cutting edge research-based firm dedicated to building a new design approach for the healthcare industry, and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Flint pediatrician-turned-whistleblower who forced the State of Michigan to acknowledge Flint's lead-poisoned water crisis.

The Alumnae Council is pleased to add Ms. Emily Sioma to the list of University of Michigan women whom it recognizes as making a difference in professional and humanitarian endeavors.

Past Athena Award Recipients

  • 1973 Dr. Joan Goebel — Medicine
  • 1974 Rafaelito Soriana — Government
  • 1975 Clara Stanton Jones — Library Science
  • 1976 Dr. Matina S. Honer — Education
  • 1977 Dr. Mary Frances Berry — Education, Government Service
  • 1978 Robin Wright — News Reporting
  • 1979 Dr. Wu Yi-Fang — Education
  • 1980 Dr. Marjorie Horning —Chemistry
  • 1981 Barbara Nissman — Performing Arts
  • 1982 Nancy Hays Teeters — Economics, Government Service
  • 1983 Dr. Elise Boulding — Sociology
  • 1984 Dr. Karen Uhlenbeck — Mathematics
  • 1985 Dr. Paula J. Clayton — Psychiatry
  • 1986 Nancy Landon Kassebaum — Politics
  • 1987 Helen WIlson Nies — Law
  • 1988 Jo Eleanor Elliott — Nursing
  • 1989 Dr. Nancy Sabin Wexler — Neuropsychology
  • 1990 Anne Stevenson
  • 1991 Dr. Gwen Baker — Education
  • 1992 Martha Rumayne Seger — Economist, Federal Reserve
  • 1993 Antonia Novello — Surgeon General of the United States
  • 1994 Ilse Lehiste — Linguistics
  • 1995 Dr. Alexa Canaday — Medicine
  • 1996 Ashley Putnam — Metropolitan Opera
  • 1998 Dorothy Sampus — Foreign Service
  • 2009 Ann Marie Lipinski — Journalism
  • 2011 Sandra Steingraber — Ecology
  • 2014 Lorissa MacAllister — Architecture
  • 2017 Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha — Medicine, Children's Health
  • 2018 Coach Carol Hutchins — Sports
  • 2019 Emily Sioma — Advocacy