A Look Back at International Women’s Day: The Wesleyan Way

We featured another incredible 15 Kentucky Wesleyan alumnae on International Women’s Day March 8! Thanks to these women and the MANY more who represent Kentucky Wesleyan so well. Keep reading to learn more about this year’s #WomenofWesleyan.


Jennifer Hendricks-Wright ’06 is the Daviess County Family Court Judge, Division III, owner of Wright Choice Properties, LLC and former owner of Hendricks Law Offices, PLLC and Y-Not Pizza & Wings. The Muhlenburg County native attended both the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich., Monash Law School in Melbourne, Australia & Canterbury Law School in Christchurch, New Zealand.  

At KWC, Jennifer was a cheerleader and inducted into the Order of Oak & Ivy during her senior year.  

Jennifer served as the Panther Cheerleading coach for over 5 years and prior to being elected served on the Board of Directors for Puzzle Pieces and the Owensboro Family YMCA.  

Dr. Lisa Clark is an associate professor of music and the music program coordinator here at Kentucky Wesleyan. The South Bend, Ind. native earned music degrees from Northwestern University and Florida State University before earning her D.M.A. from the University of Kentucky.  

Dr. Clark actively performs in solo recitals, faculty recitals and with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra.  

In addition to her faculty position, Dr. Clark maintains a private studio, works as a clinician in area high schools, and serves as the historian for the mid-south region of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).  Outside of music, she enjoys cooking, shopping for vintage clothing and playing pool and tennis.  

Alumni Association board member Michelle (Davenport) Hickerson ’95 is a mental health nurse practitioner at Ohio County Behavioral Health.  

As a student at KWC, Michelle was involved with Kappa Delta, SAPB and captain of the dance team (which she later coached as an alumna). 

Outside of work and volunteering at KWC both as an alumni board member and Panther CAP mentor, Michelle serves on the All Blessings International Adoption Agency’s Board of Directors and is active in East Hartford Baptist Church. She and her husband, James, are parents to an energetic 9-year-old future Panther Soccer-hopeful, Graham.  

Coach Nicole Nieman has been the co-head coach for the women’s Panther Basketball team at KWC for almost 15 years.  

She and her husband, Caleb, are the only NCAA husband-wife coaching team in all of Divisions I, II or III basketball. The dynamic duo are the all-time winningest coaches in KWC women’s basketball history, have had 5 NCAA Tournament appearances and led the team to the first GMAC Tournament Championship in KWC history.  

Nicole holds a bachelor’s degree in learning disabilities from Aquinas College and a master’s in kinesiology from Michigan State University. Her players have always performed in the classroom, too, with all maintaining a 3.0 GPA every season, 62 Academic All-GMAC honorees and 7 inductees into The Order of Oak & Ivy. The team was awarded the highest team GPA at KWC in 2017 and were named to the 2021 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Top 25 Academic Team list.  

Nicole and Caleb have one daughter, Lily, who we expect to see on a KWC court (or maybe even a field) soon!  

Peggie (Pratt) Stewart ’73 and her late husband were the first couple to be married in Tapscott Chapel! Peggie taught biology and chemistry at the secondary level in Muhlenberg County schools for 31 years.  

Now retired, Peggie spends her time teaching yoga and Silver Sneakers at the Central City Convention Center and serving on the KWC Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. She also comes to campus at the beginning of each semester to host a Senior Sunrise & Senior Sunset yoga event with our senior class. 

You can learn more about Peggie’s story in her #WhyIGive feature here.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Phoenix Jenkins ’12 is a supply officer at MSC Okinawa, Japan and was recently named Sailor of the Year by the Military Sealife Command Far East! 

As a student at KWC, Phoenix stayed busy playing softball for the Panthers, serving as president of the Student Government Association and being involved with the Black Student Union and choir. She also moonlighted at the Wesley N. Panther mascot! After graduation, Pheonix went on to earn her master of science in transformative leadership from Bethune-Cookman University.  

Outside of work, Phoenix is a digital creator, motivational speaker and as the girls’ basketball coach at Kadena High School. She spends her free time mentoring young people in a variety of ways and we’re so proud to call her an alumna!  

Panther Soccer & Cheerleading alumna Angel (Ballard) Welsh ’03 is a wife and mom, former radio personality for WBKR, and now the founder and Executive Director of My Sister’s Keeper – a women and children’s emergency homeless shelter.  

Angel is also the co-owner of Gifted Thrift, a new thrift store coming to Owensboro that provide a volunteer workforce skills program for clients in non-profit organizations and the court system to gain needed work skills for a resumes.  

She has endured trials and unthinkable loss, but continues to live a life of positivity, love and service. 

Dr. Arba Kenner ’74 is a native of Campbellsville, Ky. who earned her degree in chemistry at KWC before going on to earn her M.S. in Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University and her M.D. from the University of Louisville’s School of Medicine. She worked as an OB/GYN in Frankfort until she retired in 2003. 

Dr. Kenner worked as an OB/GYN until her retirement in 2003. She has since filled her time with volunteer pursuits! Past pursuits include taking approximately 16 trips to Honduras between 1999 and 2020 and serving as a Kentucky Wesleyan Trustee from 2001-2016.  

Currently, Dr. Kenner is the president of the Captial Area Extension Master Gardeners and of the Friends of the Paul Sawyier Public Library. She’s also her church’s delegate to the Annual Conference, treasurer of the church’s United Women in Faith and serves on the boards for the Franklin County Board of Health and National Association of Boards of Health. Additionally, she is in a dance group called the Glitterbugs (who obviously wear glittery costumes) and she is especially busy at this time of year doing volunteer tax preparation with the AARP Tax-Aide program. Talk about a woman of many talents! 

You can learn more about Dr. Kenner’s impressive volunteerism and career in her Wesleyan Woman of Distinction feature here.

Kappa Delta alumna Cathy (Meeks) Bishop ’78 retired after approximately 40 years as a paralegal, most of that time at English, Lucas, Priest & Oswley, LLP.  

As a student, Cathy was involved with student government and Kappa Delta sorority. Since graduating, Cathy has served as president of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors and currently serves on the KWC Board of Trustees. She and her Wesleyan Sweetheart Mike ‘78 are also members of the College’s 1858 Society and Heritage Society. 

In addition to her career, Cathy has held a number of volunteer roles including vice chair for the Commonwealth Health Corporation Board of Directors, volunteering with the Bowling Green Independent School District and as lay leader at State Street United Methodist Church. She and Mike have one son, Keith. 

P.S. We recently featured Cathy and Mike during our #WesleyanSweethearts Edition of Alumni Evolution: The Official Podcast of the KWC Alumni Association! You can listen to their episode here.

Claire Sloane ’24 is a senior here at Kentucky Wesleyan! The Las Vegas native is a health science major and track & field alumna who was recently accepted into the University of Evansville’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program! She’ll start her doctorate program with UE less than a week after she graduates from KWC this spring.  

Claire works as a barista at Niko’s Bakery, as a PT intern at Owensboro Health and as residence advisor (RA) on campus. She’s also the former Director of Football Operations for the Panther Football Team. She’s a member of the Black Student Union, KWC’s NAACP chapter, the Class of 2024’s Senior Committee and was our 2023 Homecoming Queen. 

Dr. Cynthia Abbott ’87 is a Somerset, Ky. native and is a medical, surgical & cosmetic dermatologist in Atlanta, Ga. When it came to choosing a college, there was no choice other than Kentucky Wesleyan. Her parents, Benjamin H. ’59 & Linda (Huffaker) Abbott ’59 were graduates along with several other members of her family. 

Dr. Abbott double majored in biology and art at KWC and was inducted into the College’s Order of Oak & Ivy as a student. She earned her master’s degree in medical illustration from the Medical College of Georgia and earned her MD from the University of Louisville’s School of Medicine.  

Dr. Abbott is married to her best friend, Marty Thomasson, and they have four children. Outside of working and spending time with her family, Dr. Abbott enjoys being involved with the International Leprosy Society and her local Rotary Club.  

Panther Cheerleading alumna Jamie (Helm) Stark ’08 is a Creative Director at Quality Meats Creative, a 2x Small Agency of the Year, based in Chicago.  

Jamie earned her M.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art & Design and her specialties include art direction, creative concepting, design and copywriting.  

Her impressive client list includes Huggies, KraftHeinz, Saxx, Biore, Under Armour, Kohl’s, MillerCoors, Jim Beam, Sprint, SC Johnson & SO many more.  

Jamie lives in Chicago with her husband Jeremy Stark ‘07. 


Know who we should feature next year? Let us know!