SU honors local leaders with honorary doctorates

The Board of Trustees of Spalding University and the university community will honor three distinguished individuals with deep roots in the Commonwealth of Kentucky or who have made significant contributions in their fields of service at the 2014 commencement service. Catheryn O’Connor Dykstra, Marta Maria Miranda, and Dr. Sheila A. Schuster each will be awarded a Doctor of Public Service. The commencement service, recognizing 678 graduates, and the honoring of the award recipients will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at Canaan Christian Church, 2840 Hikes Lane.

President Tori Murden McClure says, “Each of these honorees are distinguished citizens who have dedicated their careers and lives to the betterment of the community. Their compassion, personal sacrifices and achievements are inspirations to us all. Spalding University is pleased to recognize their advanced citizenship with honors as part of the 2014 commencement ceremony.”

Catheryn “Cathe” O’Connor Dykstra is the Chief Possibility Officer, as well as President and CEO, of Family Scholar House, an organization whose mission is to end the cycle of poverty by providing disadvantaged single-parent students and their children with the support they need to earn a college degree and succeed in their careers. Dykstra is committed to promoting the importance of education as an asset that appreciates over time and provides long-term self-sufficiency through career-track employment.  She sees her role as changing the paradigm for work with families in poverty from short-term support to long-term solutions. Dykstra has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Wake Forest University, and she has banking, financial and social services experience in assisting special populations through innovative approaches to attaining and maintaining self-sufficiency.

Marta Maria Miranda is President and CEO of the Center for Women and Families whose mission is to offer services to all survivors of intimate partner abuse and sexual violence. Miranda has 39 years of experience in organizational and clinical social work practice with a focus on the identification, prevention, treatment and eradication of individual, institutional and societal violence. Prior to joining the Center for Women and Families, Miranda was an associate professor of social work at Eastern Kentucky University for 17 years. In addition to her professional credentials, Marta has been a dedicated activist and community organizer on social and economic justice issues for more than three decades. She has a long history of collaboration with the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association and was appointed to the Kentucky Commission on Women by Governor Steve Beshear. She was recently recognized by The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression for her erasing racism work. She is also an accomplished poet and member of the Affrilachian Poets. Miranda earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and a master’s degree in social work from Barry University.

Dr. Sheila A. Schuster is a licensed clinical psychologist.  After twenty-seven years of practice as a child psychologist, Dr. Schuster now devotes her full-time work to public policy advocacy on mental health and disabilities, health care and social justice issues. In 1982, Dr. Schuster helped establish and now leads the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition, comprised of more than 80 organizations representing consumers, families, advocates and providers.  She was the first Executive Director of the Kentucky Psychological Association, serving from 1989-2000, and she continues to represent the organization as federal and state legislative liaison. Schuster currently heads the Advocacy Action Network (AAN), an umbrella organization which includes a number of advocacy groups addressing health care, mental health, social justice and disability issues.  Because of her leadership role in the 1990s in representing consumers’ concerns around health care issues, Dr. Schuster was appointed by Governor Paul Patton as the first consumer representative on the Kentucky Department of Insurance’s Health Advisory Council. Schuster is a member of the Kentucky Institute of Medicine. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The Catholic University of America, a master’s degree in psychology from Purdue University and a doctorate from the University of Louisville.