ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – We continue recognizing the four finalists who were nominated for Remarkable Women 2023.  It’s part of a nationwide initiative by our parent company Nexstar to honor the influence that women have.

ABC Big 2’s Ozzy Mora caught up with a nominee who is using her position to achieve and teach about social change.

An award-winning teacher, Dr. Joanna Hadjicostandi-Anang has encouraged her students and others around her to look into social issues and achieve change. 

“My activism has moved to my family [and] my daughters,” said Dr. Hadjicostandi-Anang. 

Born in Egypt and known to many as a remarkable advocate for the voices who have not been heard. 

“And that was to do oral histories and document the history of people in the minority community who have done tremendous work and have not been heard or appreciated,” she said. 

University of the Texas Permian Basin sociology professor Dr. Joanna Hadjicostandi-Anang says she moved to Odessa in 1996 and then accepted a job position there. She said around that time is when she found her true calling. 

“I attended the funeral of Dr. Wheatley Stewart  [and] as I was listening to the stories that people were saying about to Dr. Stewart, I found the calling of what I wanted to do in terms of my research,” she said. 

Dr. Hadjicostandi-Anang is talking about Dr. Wheatley Stewart, Medical Center Hospital in Odessa or MCH even has a building named after him, Wheatley Stewart Medical Pavilion.

The only records we were able to gather show that Dr. Stewart was the first African American physician to practice at MCH and impacted the lives of many. 

“Soon after that I started a whole project of collecting oral histories of the early African American individuals who came to Odessa,” said Dr. Hadjicostandi-Anang. 

Many who we spoke to at UTPB say Dr. Hadjicostandi-Anang dedicates time to her deep-rooted oral studies research, students, volunteering, leading the yearly Holiday Angel Tree for children and seniors in need, committed in community services towards social justice and so much more.

“For instance, with the sociology club students we were going to the church, volunteering there or we were going to the food bank, or she was taking her class going to the nursery of foster care,” said UTPB Sociology Associate Professor Dr. Sebahattin Ziyanak. 

Dr. Ziyanak nominated Dr. Hadjicostandi-Anang for Remarkable Women 2023. It’s a nationwide Nexstar initiative to honor women that influence policy, social progress and quality of life.

“She’s been always busy; I’ve never seen her once since 2016 [being a] full-time faculty here in-person [and] not being busy with the community service,” said Dr. Ziyanak. 

Ozzy Mora: “she sounds very remarkable.” 

Dr. Ziyanak: “she is.”

Her hard work has not gone unnoticed, her office fully displays all her well-earned awards. 

“The most important one I got [was] in 2021, I believe and that is the Piper Award that is an award that is given to 10 people from entire state of Texas,” she said. 

Each year, ten professors in Texas are chosen for the Piper Professor Award, which was established in 1958 for superior teaching at the college level. 

“It’s a holistic award, it’s not just the teaching award it includes all actions,” said Dr. Hadjicostandi-Anang. 

She also humbly hinted at another remarkable achievement. 

“My parents are Greek, so we spoke Greek and Arabic, but we started French and English right away and I did take Italian and Spanish, and I do have bits [of] pieces [of] another maybe 40 languages,” she laughingly said. 

Overall, Dr. Dr. Hadjicostandi-Anang said she hopes that others will be encouraged by her journey. 

“Women have a lot of power and they need to claim that, and they need to be at the forefront of the struggle to achieve the equality that they deserve,” said Dr. Hadjicostandi-Anang. 

She also tells us she hopes more people will look into issues that are important for our communities and try to achieve social change. 

We will continue highlighting other women who will be considered for Nexstar’s nationwide 2023 woman of the year award. One local winner will be selected to earn a once- in-a-lifetime trip to Los Angeles, California.