Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp ’68 is among a select group of civil servants to receive a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal tonight. The “Sammies,” also dubbed the “Oscars of government service,” are awarded by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission it is to make government more effective.
Sammies are awarded each year in a number of categories to individuals whose accomplishments are “making a meaningful difference to millions of people across our country and around the world,” according to the organization. Yeargin-Allsopp, associate director for children with special health care needs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be honored with the 2018 Career Achievement Medal.
During her more than three decades at the CDC, Yeargin-Allsopp “pioneered research to understand the prevalence of autism and other developmental disabilities, influencing the expansion of health, social and educational services for children with special needs,” according to her Sammies profile. In 1966, Yeargin-Allsopp became the first African-American student to attend Sweet Briar College and in 1968, she was the first African-American woman admitted to Emory University School of Medicine. Last year, Yeargin-Allsopp received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine.
“I feel that I’ve done the best I can do with the gifts and talents that I’ve been given,” she said according to a story in the Washington Post. “That’s what we all should do.”
Yeargin-Allsopp is currently serving a second term on the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors. In 1992, the College honored her with its Distinguished Alumna Award.
“I think Sweet Briar as a place matches my determination and willpower as a person,” she said in a February 2018 profile on the Sweet Briar College website. “I hope that many more young women will find their way to Sweet Briar and take advantage of all the wonderful, transformative experiences they will have there. It can be life-changing. I am an example of that!”