Each year, the Scripps College Alumnae Association recognizes three Scripps women during Reunion Weekend. These awards were established to honor members of the College’s community, and we are excited to announce this year’s recipients of the Distinguished Alumna, Outstanding Recent Alumna, and Volunteer of the year awards.
The Distinguished Alumna award was first presented in 1978, celebrating the achievements of Scripps alumnae and the power in women’s education. Rev. Dr. Carolyn Sheets Owen-Towle ’57 is this year’s recipient of the award.
Nominated by classmate Nancy Springer Walker ’57, the committee was drawn to the breadth of Owen-Towle’s contributions to the San Diego community during her 20-plus years as a Unitarian minister and her ongoing commitment to the arts community. Owen-Towle served the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego as co-minister with her partner, Rev. Dr. Tom Owen-Towle, from 1978-2002. She currently serves on the board of the Mingei International Museum, the Ilan-Lael Foundation, and the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation.
In addition to her work with the church and numerous foundations, Owen-Towle is a speaker and author, publishing books like Step Off the Sidewalk (1991), a compilation of sermons, and Damngorgeous (2008), a memoir of her father, renowned artist Millard Sheets.
The Outstanding Recent Alumna award was established in 1992 to honor an alumna who embraces challenge, takes risks, and uses her Scripps education in a quest for personal excellence. This award honors a changemaker who is in the early stages of her life’s work. Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik ’02 is this year’s recipient.
Twelve members of the Class of 2002 nominated Bhaumik for this award. Bhaumik is a conceptual artist working with crafts and food to tell the stories of migration. She is a writer, educator, cook, and co-founder of the People’s Kitchen Collective.
Raised in Los Angeles and based in Oakland, Bhaumik’s parents are Indian and Japanese Colombian. Following her time at Scripps, she went on to earn an MFA in interdisciplinary art and an MA in visual and critical studies from California College of the Arts (CCA). She currently teaches at CCA and has worked on projects such as Estamos contra el muro (We are against the wall), named one of the most aspiring art events by East Bay Express in 2016.
The Volunteer of the Year award recognizes an alumna who has given her time and talent to Scripps College. Created in 2005, this award acknowledges past and present volunteer experiences. Mariaestella Cuara ’89 is this year’s Volunteer of the Year award recipient.
Cuara has provided years of service to Scripps College and its community in a variety of roles, most recently through the Ad Hoc Committee for Alumnae Participation and Engagement and on the Camp Scripps Creative Caucus. She enjoys the chance to hear the personal stories of Scripps students and values the friendships gained with the staff and alumnae community. In reflecting on her experiences, Cuara states, “I have been involved with Scripps as a volunteer over the years; the school has become more than just a place where I earned my degree. Scripps has become a second home to me.”
A first-generation student, Cuara graduated with a degree in American studies. She attributes her Scripps education to her ability to pursue two careers â€“government administration and higher education. Currently, Cuara works for FA Solutions, LLC, a third-party financial aid services company that provides support to financial aid offices at colleges and universities.
For more information on these awards and upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit our Alumnae network page.