Three Inspiring Women Honored with Biola’s Annual Ruby Awards

Colleen Fredenburg Brown, Kitty Purgason, and Sierra McCoy Receive Ruby Awards

Apr. 10, 2019 By Bella Burchett

Biola University honored three women at the 12th annual Ruby Awards on March 13 2019, during Women’s History Month. The Ruby Awards celebrate influential women in the Biola community. Women are nominated for the awards by those who believe they make a positive impact in the lives of others.


Biola alumna Colleen Fredenburg Brown (’91) received the Priscilla Ruby Award for Teaching and Mentoring. Brown is an exemplary example of living a life of excellence in teaching and mentoring. Since having graduated from Biola in 1991, she has faithfully served the Lord as a wife, a mother, a missionary and now as a high school counselor for at-risk teens.


“She has a tremendous love for others and a way of connecting with people that reflects Christ's love so well,” said her nominator.


Many of the students she works with struggle with homelessness, unstable families, drug abuse, and more. Brown goes above and beyond to advocate for their educational, physical and emotional needs, wrote her nominator.

Kitty Purgason, professor of TESOL classes at Biola’s Cook School of Intercultural Studies, received the Deborah Ruby Award for Leadership and Wisdom. On campus, Purgason brings experience to the classroom through her years of living, studying, serving and teaching in India, Russia, Korea, China, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Mauritania, Indonesia, Kuwait, Oman, Tajikistan, Vietnam, and Spain.

“I am honored to receive this affirmation and grateful for all the leaders who have modeled to me what true wisdom is and does,” said Purgason.

Purgason has received three Fulbright fellowships and the Biola Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. She has presented on methodology and materials-related topics at more than 30 local, state and national TESOL conferences, and has also spoken about TESOL at the Urbana International Conference and other similar conferences. She is the author of multiple TESOL related books including “Professional Guidelines for Christian English Teachers” and “English Language Teaching in Theological Contexts.”

“She's an incredible teacher that is so humble about her accomplishments and yet so insightful, wise, gotten countless scholarships from Kazakhstan, encouraging to students and faculty alike and shines the love of Jesus,” wrote her nominator.

Biola’s Student Government Association President, Sierra McCoy received the Esther Ruby Award for Obedience and Servanthood. McCoy has been heavily involved in the First Gen program at Biola, serving as a peer mentor where she facilitated First Gen events and helped guide a first generation college student through their first year at Biola.

“I feel so honored to be noticed in my dedication because it shows that I have meant something to someone just as the many leaders before me have inspired and touched my life,” said McCoy.

She was nominated for the award due to her servant leadership exhibited through how she has led and mentored other students during her time at Biola. For the past two years, McCoy has also served as a mentoring coordinator for the First Gen program, supervising 16 mentoring relationships between First Gen college students, hosting mentor training sessions and providing relational support to First Gen mentors. Before serving as president of SGA, she held the position of Senator and marketing coordinator for SGA.

Other events took place on campus during Women’s History Month including a fitness meetup and self defense seminar.  For more information on upcoming events, visit the Biola Events website.

Written by Bella Burchett, media relations intern. For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, manager of media relations, at (562) 777-4061 or

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