University Honors First Lady Melania Trump as Woman of Distinction


President William M. B. Fleming, Jr. presents Melania Trump with the 2020 Woman of Distinction Award at The Breakers Palm Beach on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.As First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump has received letters from children who have been bullied online and families who lost loved ones to opioid abuse.

Mrs. Trump has traveled across the country and around the world to highlight programs and people who are dedicated to helping children overcome such concerns.

For her Be Best initiative promoting children’s physical, social and emotional well-being, the University recognized her as the 2020 Woman of Distinction. Proceeds from the annual luncheon benefit a scholarship fund for female students.

Be Best is designed to promote values such as encouragement, kindness and respect in children. The initiative is concentrated around three pillars: well-being, online safety and opioid abuse.

“When we teach our children to cherish our values and care for each other, they are better prepared to carry on America’s legacy of compassion, service, and patriotism,” said Mrs. Trump. “It is our duty as adults and parents to ensure they have the best opportunities to lead fulfilling, healthy and successful lives.” 

Mrs. Trump has met with companies like Microsoft to create safer online experiences for children by promoting online safety and positive social media use.

She has traveled to children’s hospitals and treatment facilities, where she has held newborns suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and met mothers who entered treatment programs to turn their lives around.

The First Lady’s Be Best initiative has empowered more than 20 Be Best ambassadors who use resources within their government agencies to make a difference in the lives of children. The results: $6 billion in government funding dedicated to fighting opioid abuse, a nationwide youth awareness campaign on opioid education, numerous states signing online safety bills into law and $7 million in grants distributed to communities to promote well-being.

President William M. B. Fleming, Jr. introduced the First Lady. Her mother and father joined her at the luncheon.

Students Jessica Lykins and Chanel Nassir are the 2020 Women of Distinction scholarship recipients. Lykins, of Groveland, Florida, is a senior studying communication. Nassir is a senior majoring in international business. Both are students in the University’s Frederick M. Supper Honors Program.

Lykins competes in cross country and track and field. She leads the Fellowship of Christian Athletes worship band and is a member of the President’s Lyceum. She writes for The Beacon Today and is a Q Union fellow for the 2019-20 school year.

Nassir is captain of the lacrosse team and started a mentoring program at Highland Elementary School in Lake Worth. She is a member of Chi Alpha Sigma, the national college athletic honor society; Sigma Beta Delta, the business honor society and the President’s Lyceum.

Eileen Burns and Frances Fisher are co-chairs of Women of Distinction, which recognizes women for their charitable leadership of organizations that support the arts, education, healthcare and other community initiatives. Cresset is an event sponsor.

The Women of Distinction luncheon is an annual event that honors women who have made significant contributions to the community. Previous honorees are Patricia Supper, Rose Sachs, Helen Messic Ross, Carolyn Buckley, Anita Dubnoff, Mary Schott, Jean Feather, Helen Persson, Helen Cluett, Anita Hamilton Michaels, Dorothy Schulman, Nicki Harris, Hillie Mahoney, Patricia Cook, Kathryn Vecellio, Kit Pannill, Nancy Brinker, Pat Johnson, Jean Tailer, Susan Keenan, Edie Schur, Maura Benjamin, Sydelle Meyer, Lore Moran Dodge, Barbara Nicklaus, Alicia Blodgett, Julie Fisher Cummings, Diana Ecclestone, Frances Fisher, Helen DeVos, Michele Kessler, Sydell Miller, Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau, Gay Hart Gaines. Vicki Halmos, Iris Apfel, Dr. Gail Austin Cooney, Eileen Burns, Suzanne Wright, Joyce Light Sang, Sally Ross Soter, Gail Coniglio, Danielle Hickox Moore, Susie Elson,  Nancy Murray, Sheila Reicher Fine, Joan R. VanderGrift, Cathy Johnson Flagg, Jane R. Grace, Emilia Fanjul, Darlene Jordan, Candy Carson, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Audrey Gruss and Laurie S. Silvers.

Photo: President William M. B. Fleming, Jr. presents Melania Trump with the 2020 Woman of Distinction Award at The Breakers Palm Beach on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.