2013 Women of Distinction and Woman of Promise
Congratulations to this year’s Women of Distinction, Dianne Farb and Anne Voyles, and Woman of Promise Stephanie Dioguardi.
The 2013 Women of Distinction event will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, in the Fine Arts Hall. A reception will follow with heavy hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $35 per person and are available online at sfcollege.edu/finearts or through the Santa Fe Box Office at 352-395-4181.
Climb for Cancer
Dianne Farb and her husband Ron, a longtime mountain climbing enthusiast, were avid givers to cancer charities, both having personal experience with loved ones with cancer. That’s when Dianne had a brainstorm.
“We’re both devoted to the cause,” Dianne said. “I thought ‘why don’t we just create our own fund and decide where the money goes?’”
And so, Climb for Cancer was born. The foundation uses the money to offset financial challenges faced by the most vulnerable cancer patients – children and low-income families. They provide money for things such as lodging and gas to get to and from treatment facilities. Things that health insurance and other charities don’t cover.
“Climb for Cancer was a natural connection, given my husband’s passion,” said Dianne. “I am much more comfortable with my feet on the ground, so I manage the day-to-day operations much closer to sea level.”
While Ron serves as the public face for the foundation, Dianne keeps her feet grounded, maintaining the books and legal paperwork, managing mailings and planning special events (among other things).
Laura Press, who supported Dianne’s Women of Distinction nomination, wrote in a letter, “As someone who has personally witnessed Dianne’s commitment to numerous causes, I can attest to her tireless dedication and extraordinarily high standards and ethics. Dianne is an inspiration and model for other women to emulate. Dianne has always been committed to a life of service and personal improvement, beginning with her decision to attend law school as a non-traditional student.”
Dianne was born and raised in Jacksonville. She earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from University of North Florida in 1997, where she graduated summa cum laude and received the award for Excellence in Literary Scholarship. Following that, she went on to earn a juris doctorate with honors from UF in 2000.
In addition to her work with Climb for Cancer, Dianne has pursued her passion for writing, publishing two novels, “The Promise of Change” and “Rescuing Lacey” under the pen name Rebecca Heflin.
In the back of her mind, Dianne always knew she wanted to write and explore her literary talents.
“I always wanted to write, but I guess I never had the courage,” Dianne said. “I was so busy with the day-to-day of the foundation, and working, that I needed a creative outlet.”
Her creative outlet has really taken off, and Dianne is currently working on a third novel.
If there is one theme in Dianne’s life, it’s that “it’s never too late.” She has proven this by going back to school and completing her law degree, starting a successful charity and becoming a published author. And, there is still time for more.
A Lifetime of Dedicated Service
For 50 years Anne Voyles and her husband Jim owned and managed Voyles Appliance Store on 23rd Avenue in Gainesville. They became known throughout the community for their excellent customer service and genuine caring for the people they served. As business began to wind down and the Voyles neared retirement in 2000, Anne began serving as Director for Bread of the Mighty Food Bank where she had volunteered for many years.
Anne could have easily retired when the appliance store closed, but instead, she re-fired and put her years of experience and wisdom into rebuilding the food bank from the ground up.
Bread of the Mighty (BOTM) serves five counties in Florida, covering 3,700 square miles. The food bank acquires and distributes 2 million pounds of food annually, reaching the lives of nearly 1.5 million people. Not an easy undertaking for anyone to manage. But Anne not only managed, she excelled, bringing BOTM back from the brink of bankruptcy and restoring service to the community.
“[Anne] picked up the challenge with joy, determination, faith and expectancy,” stated a letter from employees, the Board of Directors and volunteers at the food bank. “Anne’s desire to improve the lives of our local and extended community will never fade away.”
Anne grew up in Gainesville and Cedar Key, and was a pioneer student at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research school, so her ties to this community are long and strong and she had a passion to get BOTM back on its feet. Anne continues to work as Director Emeritus for BOTM to this day.
According to Jan McDonald who nominated Anne, “Even more impressive than her mission of feeding the hungry, Mrs. Voyles, through her actions and dedication, inspires other to be involved and serve.”
Anne has helped many people over the years, providing financial, spiritual and emotional support to those in need. Many more than her three own children looked to her as a mother. She continues today to be a role model, giving tirelessly and always willing to serve in any way she can.
From Peru to China, and Beyond
There have been two constants in 20-year-old Stephanie Dioguardi’s young life: her family’s support and her determination to succeed.
Stephanie grew up in Arequipa Peru, but her parents had a dream for her college education from a very young age. They wanted Stephanie to attend college in the U.S. where they knew she would have the opportunity for a better education. Stephanie accepted that challenge and is now a Santa Fe College student majoring in Business Administration, preparing to transfer to the University of Florida.
“I finished high school in Peru at 16 and came to the United States when I was 17,” Stephanie said. “My mom came with me, of course, and we had to move everything here on a boat.”
While Stephanie spoke a bit of English, having learned the language at school in Peru, she still needed to take two semesters of prep reading and writing at SF to ready herself for more advanced classes. Now she tutors other students in accounting, economics and Spanish.
In addition to her tutoring work at Santa Fe, Stephanie has an abiding interest in helping fellow students in any way she can.
Says Admissions Coordinator Gayle Jones, who nominated Stephanie, “Stephanie is actively involved in the community and has a genuine concern for humanity and her fellow students that is evident in virtually every project she undertakes.”
Stephanie has been extensively involved in campus activities, setting a good example for every student she meets. Stephanie participated in the Model United Nations Team, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and served as a Student Ambassador.
“I want to give back because Santa Fe has given me so much,” Stephanie said. “I’ve had so many opportunities here and the Student Ambassadors program has opened many doors for me.”
Stephanie’s involvement with the Student Ambassadors led her to head the service committee, participating in they cystic fibrosis walk in Starke last June, helping raise money to further research and treatment of the disease. Stephanie also helps Venezuelan students at SF ensure funding for college by writing CADIVI letters of verification to their home country, something required by the Venezuelan government to allow international students access to their money for college in the U.S.
Recently Stephanie was the recipient of a Study Abroad scholarship, allowing her to spend two weeks studying in China.
“The trip to China almost made me feel like I was back at home in Peru,” Stephanie said. “I had not been back recently, and missed my home. It surprised me how similar the culture in China is to Peru. Of course it’s an entirely different language, different people, but it so much more low-key than the U.S. – more natural. I felt like I was at home.”
One of the things Stephanie enjoyed the most was the food, and she was not afraid to try anything and everything. She really wanted to experience it all, even eating scorpions (which she says are actually quite delicious).
“I just wanted to experience the entire culture in every way. The food, the people, walking everywhere. We even took a 12-mile bike ride along the top of the Great Wall of China,” Stephanie said.
Back on campus and U.S. soil, Stephanie recounted her experience in China to other SF students, faculty and staff though a public speaking engagement, and participated in a marketing program for Study Abroad to help get the word out to other students about SF’s international initiative.
“Through my work in the community and on campus I want to show other students that whatever you want, you can achieve it,” Stephanie said. “My travels to the U.S. and China, and working my way through Santa Fe have shown me that it can be hard to adapt, but if you have a goal and don’t let the barriers get in your way. You can achieve whatever you want.”
Wherever life takes Stephanie from here, one thing is certain – with an attitude like that, nothing will stand in the way of her dreams.
Event and Ticket Information
For more information about Santa Fe College’s Women of Distinction Program, visit www.sfcollege.edu/wod.
The 2013 Women of Distinction event will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, in the Fine Arts Hall. Keynote speaker will be Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll. A reception will follow with heavy hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $35 per person and are available online at sfcollege.edu/finearts or through the Santa Fe Box Office at 352-395-4181.
For more information, please contact Event Coordinator Teri McClellan at 352-395-5201.