Women of Distinction awards celebrate advocates, community leaders

University of the Pacific honored five remarkable women with Women of Distinction Awards March 22 as part of the university’s annual celebration of Women’s History Month.

They were selected for their leadership, advocacy and positive impact on the community.

“Hearing their stories, you could hear how impactful they are,” said Allison Dumas, associate vice president of community engagement and enrollment strategy. “Each one has their own story that is beautiful and inspiring. If we could just take a moment every day to recognize and celebrate the women in our lives, just think what a better world we would have.”

This year’s recipients include:

  • Rosabella Lopez ’24
  • Muskann Mann ’24
  • Brandy Thurman ’03
  • Yvette Quintana
  • Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla
Rosabella Lopez

Rosabella Lopez

Rosabella Lopez empowers young scholars

Senior Rosabella Lopez leads by example. The native Stocktonian has served the community from a young age and continues to do so at Pacific.

As a fellow in the university’s College Corps program, she has served more than 450 volunteer hours in K-12 education.

“Two of the biggest inspirations in my journey are my grandmothers,” Lopez said. “They have shown me how strong and powerful women truly are.

“This award, apart from the recognition, is so special because it’s a testament to how being surrounded and nurtured by loving, powerful women can truly empower one, and I will continue to do so.”

Lopez is double majoring in education and Spanish with a minor in ethnic studies. She is a student teacher and is working towards being an elementary school teacher when she graduates.

Muskann Mann

Muskann Mann

Muskann Mann advocates for underrepresented communities

As a first-generation student from the Central Valley, Mann has sought to make a positive impact in her community.

During her time as an undergraduate student, Mann was the ASuop director of health and wellness, a career coach at Career Services, an intern at the Center for Identity and Inclusion, a member of the Success TRiO Program and co-founder of the Second Chance Initiative Club.

“They all gave me a platform to express my authentic self and always gave me space to take on projects, workshops and more. They are one of the reasons I am standing up here,” Mann said.

She graduated from Pacific in December with a major in psychology and minor in philosophy.

Brandy Thurman

Brandy Thurman

Brandy Thurman advocates for equal access to education

A former standout softball player at Pacific, Thurman works diligently to ensure equal access to education for marginalized communities.

In 2017, she helped open the Discovery Youth Challenge Academy, which was created to address the high school dropout crisis and served as founding principal for six years.

Thurman is currently the director of teaching and learning for Court, Community and Charter Schools at the San Joaquin County Office of Education. Her work is helping establish a culture of collaboration, professional growth and high expectations for student learning outcomes across the alternative education program.

“My time at Pacific will always be one of the peak experiences in my life,” Thurman said, adding a special thanks to her former softball coach Brian Kolze. “His guidance, mentorship and belief in my abilities played an instrumental role in my growth both as an athlete and a person.”

Yvette Quintana

Yvette Quintana

Yvette Quintana strives to create a more equitable world

As the LGBTQ+ program specialist for the Center of Identity and Inclusion, Quintana is focused on making the LGBTQ+ Resource Center a safe space for queer students to flourish.

She also is passionate about being an advocate for human rights and social justice beyond the workplace.

Quintana is co-founder of Socktober, an annual fundraiser that provides Stockton’s unhoused community with clothing and other necessities. She also has advocated for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives as a member of the board of directors for the Stockton Chorale.

“My parents immigrated from Mexico when I was very young, and they instilled a very deep passion for helping others. They ensured that my life was dedicated to hard work and that anything that I wished for could be possible as long as I worked hard,” Quintana said.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla works tirelessly to improve water sustainability

As executive director of the nonprofit organization Restore the Delta, Barrigan-Parrilla has spent nearly 20 years working to improve policies and water management decisions that affect the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta.

She also has trained hundreds of young people from disadvantaged communities on water and climate policies.

Barrigan-Parrilla encouraged attendees to continue lifting women around them. “Open the door for the women coming up behind you. Give them the support that they need,” she said.

“Maybe we can put in real systemic change that protects, health, wealth, safety and well-being for all women in our region.”