TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Highland Park High School Principal Beryl New sat calmly at her table in the back of the Sunflower Ballroom Wednesday, certain of one thing - her name would not be called as the winner of the YWCA Woman of Excellence Award in Education.
She was wrong and admits the shock of hearing her name delayed her walk to the front of the room to accept her award.
"The women in this category are all great educators, so I was very surprised to learn of this selection," New said between receiving congratulations after the event.
The YWCA's annual Leadership Luncheon honors women for their leadership in the workplace and the community. This year's Women of Excellence winners were selected from 29 nominees. In addition, 11 area high school seniors were nominated in the Future Leader category.
In addition to New, Lt. Angela Brees of the 190th Air Refueling Wing won in the government category; Kim Savage of Westar Energy won in the large business category; Karily Taylor, CEO of Topeka's Marion Clinic was the nonprofit winner; and Jamie Hornbaker of State Farm Insurance won in the small business category.
One of New's students, Highland Park senior Monica Beltran, won the Future Leader award. Donations made by attendees to the event will fund scholarships for Beltran and all of the Future Leader nominees.
New said she is extremely proud of all the Future Leader honorees, especially Beltran, and hopes attending the event inspires the young women to create a vision for what they can become.
New said she was proud to be part of the event, noting it is still important to recognize women and their achievements.
"So often, when people do what they love and pursue their passion, they do so not considering getting any regard or notice for it," she said. "But when we can step back and show appreciation for people working hard for the community, it means a lot."
The YWCA also honored Brewster Place as the employer of excellence. Capitol Federal was presented a community partnership award.
This was the 26th year for the event. 13's Melissa Brunner emceed and Miss Kansas 2012 Sloane Lewis gave the keynote speech. Lewis was a late replacement for current Miss Kansas Theresa Vail, who had to cancel due to an injury she suffered over the weekend. Details on her injury were not released.
Money raised from the event benefits YWCA programs, such as Girls on the Run, Center for Safety and Empowerment, and the Career Assistance Network.