Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Girl Scouts honor local Women of Distinction – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

FAIRBANKS — Three Fairbanks women are this year’s Women of Distinction, honored by the Farthest North Girl Scout Council.

Michelle Bartlett, Betsy Engle and Becky Zaverl will share the spotlight at a special banquet held at the Westmark Hotel on Thursday, recognizing their contributions to our community.

Randi Carnahan is emcee for the special event which includes dinner, a silent auction and an Alaska Airlines door prize. Storyteller Cindy Schumaker will share the honorees’ stories with the audience.

This annual fundraiser, started in 1997 in partnership with British Petroleum, recognizes these important women and also supports a positive program for Alaska girls. Funds from previous years helped to extend Girl Scouts to previously under-served rural communities and also increased services to local troops.

“We’re pleased to add three more women to our distinguished group that now totals 78 women,” executive director of the Farthest North Girl Scout Council Suellen Nelles said. “This event has become a welcomed feature each spring as the community anticipates the next honorees. Women of Distinction not only celebrates the contributions these women have made to our community, this fundraiser promotes the valuable Girl Scout program in northern Alaska.”

Call 456-4782 for tickets.

Women of Distinction are:

Michelle Bartlett

This Woman of Distinction has lived the values of the Girl Scout promise and law throughout her life, starting when she was a Girl Scout in St. Louis, Missouri. 

A Fairbanks resident for nearly four decades, she serves as director of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Summer Session and Lifelong Learning. She has held many other positions, including dean of continuing education at Tanana Valley Community College and director of the elder hostel program. 

She has brought notable speakers — such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Gloria Steinem — to campus. She also initiated free cycle events and day camps for kids.

Betsy Merto Engle

The earliest memory for this Woman of Distinction was hiding with her family in the forest of the Philippines, evading Japanese invaders. As a teenager, she immersed herself in school and subsequently graduated from the prestigious Silliman University with a degree in engineering. 

She traveled to Alaska, via Washington, D.C., to work on the Fairbanks International Airport and made Fairbanks her home.

She began her career with the Department of Transportation in 1959 and ended with the project of a lifetime fixing BP corrosion problems on the North Slope with Alyeska.

She married and raised two sons and has two grandsons. 

She volunteers with her church, the Filipino Society, Ice Alaska and the Governor’s Ball and Picnic. 

She strives to give back to her hometown, never forgetting her humble beginnings in the Philippines.

Becky Zaverl

This Woman of Distinction was born and raised in Fairbanks. Her mother, Bonnie Roberts, was also a Women of Distinction. 

Diagnosed with cancer early in life, Zaverl has made that her life’s focus ever since. Having survived cancer three times, she cherishes life, gives to important causes and is sure to hug her loved ones every day. 

She married her high school sweetheart and became mother to three daughters, despite her history with cancer. She’s a kindergarten teacher and is actively involved with Relay for Life, Strides Cancer Walk, the Hospital Foundation Board and the school district speech contest. 

She travels for speaking engagements with the American Cancer Society. 

Zaverl has overcome many challenges and tragedies in her life and has remained positive, cheerful and sincerely thankful for every day.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

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