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“When I come back to Dannebrog to visit my mom, my brother, sister-in-law and extended family, I still tell people that I am going home,” she said. “Dannebrog will always be home to me. The foundation of my life was laid here. It is where I learned how to work (really hard work), how to laugh (mostly at myself), how to treat people with respect and kindness and how to try, fail and try again.”

Graves — professor and head of petroleum engineering at Colorado School of Mines — earned the award for her “extraordinary impact on the energy industry and for raising the standards of her students as individuals and of the industry as a whole.”

Harriett Nielsen, 90, is a bit of a living legend herself. She owned and operated Harriett’s Danish, a mainstay gathering place in Dannebrog for over 23 years. Roger Welsch helped launch the corner café into the limelight when he hosted “Postcards from Nebraska,” a segment on the popular CBS Sunday Morning program, decades ago.

The awards luncheon was on Feb. 6 in downtown Houston. According to an interview conducted by Hart Energy and published in the awards program, when Graves left home to pursue a doctorate in petroleum engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, her father gave her a hug and said, “Gee, honey, I hope you find a husband this time.”

The interview article said Graves was already unconventional, having left a career as a high school math and physics teacher to start a masters degree program in chemical engineering at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Graves’ first day at the doctorial program at Mines was an introduction to an entirely new world.

Graves has followed a traditional academic career path, rising through the ranks of assistant professor to associate professor, full professor and department head of petroleum engineering. Today, she is the dean of the College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering. For the past 12 years, she has been heavily involved within shaping strategic policy for the university as a whole.

As dean, Graves oversees not only petroleum engineering, mining engineering, geology and geophysics, but also economics and business, as well as humanities, arts and social sciences. Her college spans the spectrum from identification and extraction of natural resources to economics to public policy and the social license to operate.

“This book shares the learnings and perspectives of two pioneer women who waded the many challenges posed by multi-culturalism and gender in one of the corporate environments more rigid and traditional in the business world: the energy sector in the Middle East.”

“There are people who innovate with every step they take. There are people who easily motivate everyone around them. And there are people who push you to be the best you can be. Ramona Graves is a special kind of person who encompasses all these kinds of people into one being.

“In 2012, she was appointed Dean of the College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering, the first dean of the new college and only female dean on the campus of the Colorado School of Mines. A school with worldwide prestige and one of the oldest institutions in the United States, founded in 1874, ranked as the top institutional engineering institution in the world. Hers is not a minor accomplishment, in this era of empowerment of women, as the Colorado School of Mines did not have a woman in a leading role this important in its more than 143 years of history.

“She was the first woman ever to obtain a PhD in Petroleum Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines and the second woman to get a PhD in Petroleum Engineering in the United States, and one of the first 10 women in the world to accomplish this feat.”

“When I received the Pinnacle Award for lifetime achievement and contribution to the industry, I was honored and a bit embarrassed,” she said. “My career as a petroleum engineer has allowed me to travel the world, meet amazing people, and learn about cultures far removed from Nebraska.