Air Force veteran Lindsay Gargotto used her military benefits to earn a bachelor’s degree in women’s and gender studies from UofL in 2008. In January, she founded Athena’s Sisters, an organization that provides resources and social interaction for active and former military women.

Gargotto’s group started out with three members and now has more than 150.

“I realized I only knew two other women that were in the service,” she said. “I missed the sisterhood from the military. I knew other women would be interested.”

Gargotto also is a mother and mentors young women at the Home of the Innocents and Our Lady of Peace. Besides her UofL undergraduate degree, she has earned two master’s degrees – one in social work and fine arts – from Spalding University.

She received her honor Nov. 10 at a Kentucky Veterans of the Year banquet kicking off Louisville’s Week of Valor, a city-wide celebration built around Veterans Day.

 “It’s truly a great honor, overwhelming, really. It was a complete surprise to me. This award isn’t just for me, it’s for all the military women in the state. I get strength from my sisters. I believe in what I do and it makes me a better person.”