Monday, December 5, 2016

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Maria Nieto Senour, Diversity Award recipient, poses with her students. Maria Nieto Senour, Diversity Award recipient, poses with her students.

Strength in Diversity

The sixth Annual SDSU Diversity Awards Celebration recognized commitment to diversity and social justice.
By Lorena Nava Ruggero

Despite the financial hardship experienced on both a university and individual level at SDSU, the Aztec family came together last night to celebrate one of the university's greatest strength—diversity.

"Our commitment to diversity holds strong even in tough economic times," said SDSU President Stephen L. Weber during the sixth annual SDSU Diversity Awards Celebration at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.

Ceremony highlights included:

  • Recognizing the diversity at SDSU, including ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation and more
  • Acknowledging both diversity scholarship recipients and the local organizations and individuals who fund such scholarships
  • Awarding outstanding faculty, staff and a student organization for their commitment to diversity

"Diversity impacts all areas of our university," said Aaron Bruce, SDSU director of diversity and the event's emcee. "And there's an important renewal of that commitment when we interact with the community at events like these."

Awarding a commitment to diversity

This year's Diversity Award recipients included:

  • Alumni Award: Leon Williams
  • Staff Award: Tanis Starck, director of the Cross-Cultural Center/Intercultural Relations
  • Faculty Award: Maria Nieto Senour, Department of Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education
  • Student Organization Award: Jewish Student Union

The awards were newly designed for this year's event and combine a sustainable bamboo box housing a steel sphere. The interactivity of the design allows recipients and others to look past outward appearances and examine the inside of the award.

Two SDSU students, including graphic design student Lyubov Klimova and Reuben Foat, an applied design major with an emphasis in woodworking, designed the new award under the guidance of School of Art, Design and Art History faculty members Gary Benzel and Matthew Hebert.

Diversity Scholars speak

Two students from the 2010 graduating class of the SDSU Diversity Scholars also spoke during the event, sharing their stories and thanking SDSU faculty and staff members for their support. Additionally, a video highlighting the importance of scholarships was also shown.

"Growing up I never thought I could go to college," said Lagina Scott, a biology senior. "But by the grace of God, I got (the President's Diversity Scholarship)."

Scott is applying to premedical post-baccalaureate programs and scientific research internships, and hopes to one day become a physician and work in underserved communities.

For public health senior Lizette Uribe, the President's Diversity Scholarship was "a true blessing during a difficult time." Uribe, who volunteered at a variety of health-related programs and institutions as a student, will attend the new SDSU accelerated BSN program this fall. She hopes to work as a public health nurse in the future.

New programs announced and recognized

A new Presidential Scholars program was announced during the event. It will provide scholarship support to Los Angeles- and San Diego-area high school students who demonstrate financial need. The new program combines the Presidential Grant and the President's Diversity Scholarship programs.

The event also recognized this year's inaugural graduating class for the cultural competency certificate program. The program is administered by the Cross-Cultural Center/Intercultural Relations and could soon be a model for similar programs at other California State University campuses.

Sponsors for this year's event included:

  • Associated Students
  • Aztec Shops
  • SDSU Alumni Association
2010 Diversity Awards Celebration