GPS Confers 2016 Alumnae Weekend Awards

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Girls Preparatory School honored recipients of the 2016 Distinguished Alumna Award and the Margaret Rawlings Lupton Award of Excellence on Friday and Saturday during Alumnae Weekend festivities. Two women with impressive athletic histories were inducted into the GPS Athletic Hall of Fame.

Rachel Monroe Cohen ’96 is the school’s 2016 Distinguished Alumna. A graduate of Emory University and the Columbia University School of Law, she is now in private practice after having served on the legal team for the New York Yankees. She and her husband Brian began the Reagan and Jax Cohen Memorial Fund to honor the memory of their two young children, who died in 2014. With a mission to seek and support organizations that best improve children’s lives by making an impact on their health, welfare, and/or general well-being, the fund has benefited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Make-A-Wish, Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success.

Rebecca Whelchel ’76 and Lesley Stiles Scearce ’96 were honored as Margaret Rawlings Lupton Award of Excellence recipients. Alumnae chosen for this honor have made a significant impact on their communities in professional and/or voluntary activities.  Ms. Whelchel is executive director of Metropolitan Ministries, Inc. in Chattanooga. Under her leadership, MetMin has grown in size and services from a project of local congregations to an independent, self-sustaining community hub for the poor. Every year, MetMin provides emergency financial support, supportive services, and paths to stability for over 6,000 households on the brink of, or struggling to recover from, homelessness. A first responder to disaster relief, MetMin recently provided emergency, transitional, and permanent housing to over 400 families displaced when their homes at Superior Creek Lodge were condemned. Ms. Whelchel serves on the Community Advisory Board of the city of Chattanooga Neighborhood Services, as a director of the Emergency Food and Shelter Board, the Project One initiative, The Vocare Widows Project, and the Coalition of Emergency Service Providers.  

Lesley Scearce is the president/CEO of United Way of Greater Chattanooga. For 14 years, she was the president/CEO of On Point: Direction for Life, leading this growing organization to reach Chattanooga area youth with the skills and support they need to avoid risky behavior and be prepared for life.  As president and CEO of United Way of Greater Chattanooga, Ms. Scearce continues to promote partnerships and envision ways to promote the dynamic nonprofit that she how helms. In her first year, United Way began a new citywide #CHAgives fundraiser. She shepherded the non-profit’s use of advanced technology and social media, and she has successfully completed her first community campaign.  She studied at Richmond University’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies, and has a master’s in public administration from UTC.

Myra Creighton ’81 and Susan BeVille Forker ’01 were honored for their outstanding achievements and contributions in swimming and rowing. GPS established the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003 to honor selected alumnae/athletes and former coaches. 

Ms. Creighton was a member of GPS’s swim team from 1978 to 1981, during which time she won the state championship in both the 50 and 100 free, setting school records. In 1981, she and only four other GPS swimmers made up the GPS team that claimed a third-place finish at the state meet. Again winning both the 50 and 100 free, she and her teammates won the 400 free relay in a Prep All-American time. As a swimmer and team captain at Vanderbilt University, she was an NCAA All-American (Div. II), set school records in her two signature individual events, the 50 and 100 free; was a member of two record-holding relay teams, and was named a Vanderbilt Top Ten Academic Athlete. As a freshman, she and her team won second place at the NCAA women’s Division II Championships. A cum laude graduate from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1991, she is a partner with Fisher & Phillips LLP in Atlanta.   

Ms. BeVille Forker, a four-year rower, was national champion in 1X at the US Rowing Youth Invitational Regatta by her senior year. In her junior year, she was a member of the Junior National Team that competed in the Canada, America, Mexico (Can-Am-Mex) regatta in Yucatan, Mexico. She brought home three gold medals. In her senior year she helped her GPS team win the coveted Carney Cup for the fourth consecutive year of competition. She was the 2001 gold medal singles winner in the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, the largest high school regatta in the country. She also traveled to Germany as a member of the Junior National Team in the 1X, placing 13th at the Junior World Rowing Championships. At Stanford University, her varsity 8+ team was the Pac-10 champion in her sophomore year and placed third in the NCAA. Team co-captain and PAC-10 All-Academic Team member, she was named to the All-West region second team by the 2005 Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association. With a master’s in hydrogeology from Stanford, she is a geologist/project manager for an environmental consulting firm in California.

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