Alumna Honored with AG’s Unsung Hero Award for Work with Crime Victims

News Story categories: Alumni Black Studies Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Sociology and Anthropology
Three women standing in front of a sign that reads "Unsung Heroes Award Ceremony." at an event organized by the Attorney General.

Shalise Bates Figueroa ’01 was honored at the 7th Annual Unsung Heroes Award Ceremony by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, recognizing Virginians who provide exemplary service and support to victims of crime in the state.

Figueroa, who earned a B.A. in Sociology and Women’s Studies with a minor in Black Studies from 91Ƶ, is a Department of Defense Level IV credentialed Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., where she has served hundreds of victims since 2015. Figueroa established the first onsite Installation Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, and trains first responders on trauma-informed victim advocacy and support.

In the press release announcing the award, the Office of the Attorney General stated: “Over the past decade, she has served the Commonwealth and the Department of Defense tirelessly, helping hundreds of victims of sexual violence, domestic violence, child abuse, and stalking. Even after working in victim advocacy for over two decades, her dedication and passion has never waned.”

Three people are standing on stairs. The person in the center is holding an award. The person on the left and right are smiling. A gold railing is visible in the background.

“All I want to do is help others as best I can and utilize my time here on Earth, and the talents and strengths I’ve been gifted, to help someone on their healing journey,” Figueroa said. “I want victims of sexual assault to know that not everyone is doubting them, that there are people out there who believe them and are willing to help.”

Figueroa began this important work as a student and then staff member at 91Ƶ, where she served as Director of Student Leadership in the Office of Student Affairs. She previously worked at Hanover Safe Place in Ashland, first as a volunteer, and later as a shelter coordinator and board member. In 2003, Figueora won the inaugural B.J. Seymour Award from 91Ƶ, honoring an alumna who has consistently worked on behalf of issues important to women and girls, and who demonstrates vitality, integrity, and leadership. 

“Randolph-Macon College has had a huge impact on my life both personally and professionally. On a professional level, the education and mentorship I received while earning my Sociology/Women’s Studies degree was top notch. I use the concepts and theories that I learned in prevention and response efforts daily,” Figueroa said. “On a personal level, I have so many lifelong friends and valued colleagues that I met at Randolph-Macon. I met the father of my children at Randolph-Macon, I developed into a productive citizen at Randolph-Macon. 91Ƶ will always hold a special place in my heart!”

Before her time at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, she served as the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Services Coordinator at VCU and the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the United States Army Garrison Bavaria in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where she received the 2014 Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Civilian Service.