The Women's Commission offers two awards each year to deserving members of the University community.

The first award that the Women's Commission initiated was the May A. Brunson Award. This award was named in honor of the University's second Dean of Women. This award is given to the person within the University community who most contributes to improving the status of women on campus. The Commission also contributes to the University Library for the purchase of books and periodicals related to women's studies following the announcement of this award each year. The books are known as the May A. Brunson collection. The second award, the Louise P. Mills Award, is given to a student at the University who exhibits "leadership, creativity, caring and high academic performance." Traditionally, these awards are given at the Women's Commission annual breakfast meeting held each spring on the Coral Gables campus.

Normally, these awards would have been presented at our Annual Breakfast. Unfortunately, this event has been canceled to comply with the mitigation practices instituted by the University. In spite of our need to cancel the Annual Women’s Breakfast, the awards committee wanted the opportunity to recognize the award winners' contributions in 2020 and thank them for their service to our University community.


The 2024 May A. Brunson was awarded to Dr. Susy Alvarez-Diaz. 

Dr. Alvarez-Diaz has been a dedicated advocate for women at the University of Miami since her undergraduate days, focusing on representation, inclusion, and support of women helping women. She played a key role in founding and advising the Gamma Alpha chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha and spearheaded initiatives like the ZTA Fashion Show, raising over a million dollars for breast cancer research. It is now in its 31st year!

As a faculty member, also known as Dr. Susy (as the students call her), she prioritizes empowering her female students, which is evident in her selection of her dissertation topic- “The Effects of Role Models on Female Business Student's Choice of Major and Career Pursuits”.

Susy was the faculty member who created and still serves as the faculty advisor to Women in Business, which won Best Student Organization at the Herbert Business School several times. She is also the founder and director of The Latina Project – a program that she designed for first-generation Latina business students to prepare them for career and entrepreneurial success.

She goes above and beyond to support her students behind the scenes, securing internships, arranging mentorships, and offering personal support during difficult times.

Her commitment to her students has been recognized with teaching awards. She has been honored with the Excellence in Teaching Award twice and has also received the For the Love of the U award. As her nominator wrote, “For her, the love is in the details.” This is evident in her dedication to making a difference in the lives of women on campus. It is our pleasure to present to her this year’s May A. Brunson award.

The 2024 Louise P. Mills was awarded to Ms. Guerdiana Thelomar. 

Guerdiana graduated from UM  where her career as an undergraduate student was notable for the multiple ways she engaged in inspired service and leadership while maintaining high academic standards and intellectual pursuits.

She returned to UM to pursue her Ph.D., where she is currently a student in our Community Well-being doctoral program, which trains community-engaged action researchers committed to promoting social justice through rigorous theoretical analysis and community-based research. Her nominator, who has known Guerdiana for nearly a decade, was impressed by her dedication to service, leadership, and academic excellence. Guerdiana’s ability to apply academic theories to community-based approaches for addressing social issues stood out even as an undergraduate.


Her portfolio of civic engagement includes projects spanning arts, education, identity, leadership, and culture, both nationally and internationally. Notable achievements include recognition from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her 'Clinton Global Initiative University' project. She has worked with faculty and students on a project to document and celebrate the natural hair movement among African diasporic women at the University of Miami, among other initiatives. More recently she was elected to serve as the president of the Black Graduate Student Association at the University of Miami, and she has already organized several programs and events designed to support and amplify Black female students on campus.


In addition to her leadership roles in student organizations, she has excelled academically, contributing meaningfully to scholarly work and presenting at internal and national conferences. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant, she was the instructor of record for two additional courses in the School of Education. It is our pleasure to present to her this year’s Louise P. Mills award.