PBA Celebrates Women’s History Month: Honoring Community Leaders and Investing in the Next Generation

Six Female Students Receive Scholarships to Pursue their Academic Dreams; Two Students Receive Inaugural Humanitarian Award

This Women’s History Month, Palm Beach Atlantic University proudly celebrates the 2024 Women of Distinction honorees Denise Hanley and Sheila Rinker for their unwavering dedication to serving the Palm Beaches. Both women have been lifelong friends of PBA and integral members of the Women of Distinction committee.

Chaired by Frances Fisher, the 32nd luncheon held at the Breakers Palm Beach maintained its noble fundraising mission to support scholarships for academically distinguished female students—a testament to the university’s commitment to empowering the next generation of women leaders. As we reflect on the strides made by women throughout history, this event stood as a beacon of inspiration, honoring the past while nurturing the future. The inauguration of the Women of Distinction Humanitarian Award, presented to Claire and AnnaMae Predtechenskis, was a heartwarming highlight, showcasing the profound humanitarian spirit that continues to shape our world.

More than 350 women gathered in the Venetian Ballroom for the sold-out event. Since 1996, a total of 68 female students at PBA have received Women of Distinction Scholarships. This year, the six recipients represent four states and six majors.

The awardees are Abigail Diaz, a freshman from Lake Worth, Florida studying communication; Lydia Ducanis, a junior from Davie, Florida studying finance; Margaret Myskowski, a junior from Sullivan, Missouri studying nursing; Darah Oniwa, a freshman from Tulsa, Oklahoma studying chemistry; Emie Santos, a junior from Bergenfield, New Jersey studying pre-law and Niang Thang, a senior from Lake Worth, Florida studying psychology.

This year’s luncheon also included a presentation of the inaugural Women of Distinction Humanitarian Award to Claire and Anna Mae Predtechenskis. The two PBA students became temporary caregivers last year to a nonverbal, autistic 22-year-old Israeli girl whose family was affected by the Middle East Crisis.

After the welcome remarks, invocation, and award, both honorees gave their remarks.

Denise Hanley: Anchored to Serve by her Faith in God

Denise Hanley, an accomplished figure in real estate, first moved to Palm Beach in 1958. She would earn her master’s in Guidance and Counseling and marry her high school sweetheart, Dan Hanley, who she is still excited to see whenever he walks into a room after 53 years of marriage. Her children and grandchildren are also a constant source of joy.

She is also very passionate about several causes, which led to her helping organizations like the Salvation Army, The Rehabilitation Center for Children and Adults, The Hanley Foundation, and The Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League.

 Her generous nature came from her family and was instilled in her and her three siblings, who have sadly passed away due to Alzheimer’s disease, something Haney hopes with all her heart is cured very soon.

“Faith in God, love of Family, and allegiance to our country are traditions that have been handed down for generations in the Anderson-Hanley Family,” Mrs. Hanley said as she addressed the audience who gathered to celebrate her and Sheila Rinker.

She thanked her family and friends for their encouragement and support, saying she owes this honor to them.

Hanley is a self-proclaimed cheerleader of PBA and praises everything from the business school to the choir performances to the cafeteria. She encouraged guests at the Luncheon to schedule a tour to learn more about the beautiful campus. Hanley is grateful for the lengths the school goes to provide the best for their student’s academic and spiritual journeys.

“There are so many opportunities for our leaders of tomorrow in our own backyard,” Hanley said.

Hanley, as a firm believer in Christ, is grateful for the institution of PBA, which clings to its values in an uncertain world, and reminded the audience of the two great commandments in scripture, which is to love God with everything within us and our neighbors as ourselves.

Sheila Rinker: A Call to Touch the Future 

Sheila Rinker is also very open about supporting the Christlike community at PBA. Facilities like the Vera Lea Rinker Hall, the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus, and the John and Sheila Rinker Athletic Complex are the generous contributions of the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation. Her newest project with the school, her husband of 42 years, John J. Rinker, and the foundation will be the new Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Business Hall, which will give students the environment and resources they need to thrive.

Rinker has supported many charities over the years, including the Palm Beach Habilitation Center, Urban Youth Impact, H.O.W. (Hearing the Ovarian Cancer Whisper), Opportunity, Inc, and the YWCA. She is also the benefactor of a police force in a small Floridian town, supporting officers to fulfill their duties and ensuring their safety.

When her kids were more independent, she took up golf and excelled at the sport. However, she noticed her life was lacking purpose and joined the Palm Beach Habilitation Center, which helps adults with mental and physical disabilities achieve employment.

“I am truly thankful that I was a part of this organization because it gave me peace, and it gave me joy,” Rinker said.

Rinker has always been impressed with the musical talent of PBA students and wanted to help make the program better to attract more students. In 2002, she and her husband accomplished this goal with the Vera Rinker Hall dedicated to the College of the Arts.

“We decided if we could ever do anything about it… If we were ever in a position to improve it, we would,” Rinker said.

Rinker is passionate about continuing her support for the school so she can “touch the future” and has encouraged audience members to consider ways they can also make a lasting impact on the world and the next generation.

Learn more about how you can support Women of Distinction and other scholarships at PBA here.

-Palm Beach Atlantic University

Source: PBA Celebrates Women’s History Month: Honoring Community Leaders and Investing in the Next Generation