"I was so scared," said Lou Jean Flint, a past recipient of a Susa Young Gates Award. "I thought, why me? I had been doing these things all along, and now they're giving me an award?"
Flint's reaction was repeated among three Utah women who will be honored Saturday for achievements in the field of human rights and community service.Dr. Susan S. Cameron, clinical assistant professor at the University of Utah College of Nursing; Dr. Anne L. Horton, assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Brigham Young University; and Ann Kagie, chair of the National Association of Community Services Programs, are being honored for their service to women and for working "to elevate the status of women in Utah."
Cameron, Horton and Kagie join 55 other outstanding women who, over the past 17 years, have received the honor, presented by the Utah Women's Political Caucus, celebrating qualities of service and political involvement exemplified by the life of pioneer suffragette Susa Young Gates.
Cameron is the co-founder/co-director of the "You're in Charge" sexual abuse program, which has been incorporated extensively in area schools and the Girl Scout program.
Horton has devoted her career to finding solutions to family violence. Her book, "Abuse and Religion: When Praying Isn't Enough," has led to national research on battered religious women and their needs.
Kagie was instrumental in developing the Single Parent Economic Independence Demonstration project, which encourages the private sector to become aware of the value of women employees and the challenges of the single parent.
The Utah Women's Political Caucus selected Susa Young Gates as its mentor because of her accomplishments in the field of human rights and women's suffrage.
The first of Brigham Young's children to be born in the historic Lion House, Susa was inquisitive and multitalented. At age 14 she was a straight-A student and editor of "The College Lantern" at the University of Deseret. Heartily encouraged by her proud father, this rare individual in later life was fondly nicknamed "The 13th Apostle" because of her vigorous religious, civic and political activity.
"Learn everything you can," her father advised her. "Read, study, write. But don't forget that a woman's primary role is to serve her family and her church."
Gates was true to her beliefs, although her interests weren't confined to home and the raising of 13 children (five of whom lived to adulthood). Women in Utah at the turn of the century looked to her as an inspiration.
And she didn't let them down.
She was actively involved in politics and was one of the first Republican woman delegates to a national convention. At age 23 she founded the Brigham Young Academy's music department and later helped organize the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and the Women's Press Club.
For 11 years she traveled daily by train from Provo to Salt Lake City, fulfilling her position as editor of the "Young Women's Journal," which was an ideal forum for her opinions regarding human rights and suffrage. She was an inspirational speaker and prolific writer, carrying on correspondence with Tolstoy, William Dean Howells and other literary figures. She entertained such prominent American women as Clara Barton and Susan B. Anthony, and published several suffrage pamphlets.
Gates' writings often caused turn-of-the-century society to raise an eyebrow.
"Men should give women the right to choose their way and mode of life, with the right to a voice in choosing who shall govern them, to choose marriage or refuse it, to choose a business or profession, or to remain in the house quietly," she said.