News

Champions of diversity honored at 12th annual awards ceremony
Author: John Kirkland
Posted: May 25, 2016
The 12th Annual President’s Diversity Awards, held Wednesday, May 25, honored a broad array of staff and students for their efforts at expanding and advocating for racial, ethnic, sexual and physical diversity on the PSU campus.
“This is one of the few events on campus honoring transformational leaders,” said Cornel Pewewardy, professor of Native American Studies. “We are creating a world of equity for our children’s children.”
President Wim Wiewel told the capacity crowd at the Native American Student and Community Center that persons of color make up 28 percent of the PSU student body – up from 23 percent in recent years. Twenty-six percent of faculty and staff are persons of color, he said.
Wiewel said actions that promoted diversity over the last year included the campus-wide task of writing the university’s strategic plan, which viewed all aspects of PSU through an “equity lens.” He also noted the establishment of new cultural resource centers in Smith Memorial Student Union for diverse students.
“The university has to be about bringing people together, but students also need safe spaces,” he said.
This year’s recipients were:
Faculty
Kim Williams, associate professor of Political Science, whose scholarly work deals with the politics of multiracialism and immigration in contemporary America. Williams was honored for consistently advocating for a critical race and gender framework within the Political Science Department and across campus.
Esperanza De La Vega, coordinator of the Bilingual Teacher Pathway Program in the Graduate School of Education. She is credited with envisioning and co-facilitating the creation of a new Dual Language Specialization that can be added to a teaching license.
Staff
Patrick Villaflores, executive assistant to the vice president in the office of Global Diversity and Inclusion. He is a longtime advocate for Asian American and Pacific Islander students; was the founding president of Kaibigan, the Filipino American Student Association; and serves on the Commission on Sexual and Gender Equity and the MLK Annual Tribute Committee.
CeCe Ridder, director of Diversity and Multicultural Student Services. Her leadership has led to the continual growth and diversity of such programs as the Cultural Resource Centers, TRiO Student Support services and TRiO Pre-College Program. One of her most recent accomplishments is the formation of the Diversity and Multicultural Student Services Alumni Board, which is holding its inaugural event this fall.
Undergraduate Student
Janit Saechao, an art history major in the College of the Arts. She is graduating this year, and hopes to become a curator at a non-traditional art museum that focuses on underrepresented communities in the art field. She is also the coordinator of the Women of Color Action Team within the Women’s Resource Center.
Graduate Student
Yanet Nunez, a third-year graduate student in the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Program. As a first generation college student and Latina, Yanet developed and implemented a support group in Student Health and Counseling for first generation students. She also provided Spanish language counseling services to students for whom Spanish is their first language.
Team Award
Cultural Sustainability Task Force, made up of Tina Cobb, Caitlin August and Alejandra Zamudio. The group works closely with the Student Sustainability Center institute for Sustainable Solutions, Disability Resource Center and Campus Planning Office to expand cultural diversity and accessibility on campus. It created the Cultural Sustainability Self-Guided Tour Map, which includes resources such as gender-neutral restrooms, wheelchair-accessible building entrances and tunnels, rail transit stations and lactation stations.
Photo: Members of Kaibigan, PSU's Filipino American Student Association, perform a traditional Filipino dance at the 12th Annual President's Diversity Awards.