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Diversity on the Mesa

The community is invited to celebrate diversity at SDSU.
By SDSU News Team

San Diego State University's annual Diversity Awards serve as an opportunity for the campus community to celebrate SDSU's long-standing commitment to diversity, inclusion and social justice.

Awards are given to student organizations, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners.

The following Aztecs will be honored during the Diversity Awards ceremony on April 29. 

Faculty Diversity Award — Cathie J. Atkins, psychology professor and associate dean of  the College of Sciences
Cathie J. Atkins.

Cathie J. Atkins exemplifies the values of the diversity award through her career-long commitment to diversity, inclusion and social justice. She is a nationally recognized leader in developing programs to promote academic excellence among students who come from underrepresented and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, including students with disabilities.

For 25 years, Atkins has served as principal investigator/program director of the undergraduate Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC—recently renamed Maximizing Access to Research Careers) program at SDSU. MARC is federally funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and trains undergraduate students to participate in STEM research programs with the goal of increasing the pipeline of underrepresented students seeking science, technology, engineering and mathematics PhDs.

Atkins is also a co-investigator and educator on SDSU's Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program. This program facilitates the transfer of community college students from underserved populations in San Diego County to SDSU and into careers into the biomedical sciences.

“Atkins is a humble and tireless advocate for the success of students from underrepresented groups. Her career-long vision for and commitment to supporting these students to achieve at the highest level is exceptional. I cannot think of anyone worthier of receiving the 2015 Faculty Diversity award than Atkins,” said Stanley Maloy, dean of the College of Sciences. 

Staff Diversity Award — Randall Timm, director of Student Life and Leadership

Randall Timm.
Randall Timm is responsible for five distinct student affairs programming at SDSU centers: Fraternity and Sorority Life, the Center for Leadership and Community Service, Student Organizations and Activities, the Commuter Resource Center and the LGBT Pride Center.

He has contributed to the university’s shared vision to create a community proud of its diversity and commitment to social justice through his leadership and focused efforts to sustain existing initiatives and to further develop new initiatives dedicated to support this goal.

Timm serves as chair of the Commuter Student Success Working Group and has addressed the achievement gap between commuter students and residential students living on campus. He has persevered in leading this group to implement various learning community pilots, explored tactical strategies to address commuter retention and continues to work with academic departments across campus to forge collaborative relationships that support these students in their first semester at SDSU.

Timm aims to cultivate a campus-wide focus on commuter students, some of the most at risk students on campus. He has achieved great success with Casa Azteca, a program for students from South Bay who have academic developmental needs. The goal of Casa Azteca is to support these students by creating a small community where they can make new friends, receive academic support, create relationships with faculty and staff, and connect to a broad range of student organizations and activities. 

Under Timm’s vision and leadership, Casa Azteca has positively impacted students’ academic performance and sense of belonging, in turn improving the university's retention and graduation goals.

"As a fellow colleague of Randy’s, I have seen firsthand his enthusiastic, professional and passionate dedication to promote an Aztec community that is made stronger because of our diversity initiatives," said Janet Abbott, director of the Division of Undergraduate Studies. "I am inspired by his commitment and I appreciate the opportunity to work alongside him in supporting our shared goals." 

Student Organization Diversity Award — Alpha Kappa Psi
Members of Alpha Kappa Psi.

Alpha Kappa Psi is a professional co-ed business organization open to SDSU students from all majors.

SDSU's chapter has 120 members, made up of 70 women and 50 men. About half of the members are business majors and the other half are studying degrees ranging from math to international security and conflict resolution to hospitality, to Chicano studies and criminal justice.

Every semester students mentor around 30 individuals through an 8-week leadership process with an emphasis on communication skills, unity, creativity and time management. Once a member of the chapter, the organization continues to develop professional skills through seminars and workshops, and provide leadership opportunities through more than 20 different positions.

Alpha Kappa Psi recently partnered with an orphanage in Tijuana where children are suffering from HIV/AIDS. Members have completed several trips to the orphanage and are working to create a fund to raise money for the children. The chapter also places an emphasis on being involved in other organizations, with members serving in Associated Students, social fraternities and sororities, service-oriented fraternities, cultural organizations, environmental clubs and Rotaract.

Global Diversity Award — Karla Cordero, Master of Fine Arts in creative writing, Department of English and Comparative Literature

Karla Cordero.

Karla Cordero is a poet, student, educator and scholar at SDSU. She has demonstrated a dedication to actively bring the community together in order to promote change and political awareness about current social and political issues affecting SDSU students and the world around them.

As a teaching associate for the Department of English and Comparative Literature in the fall of 2014, Cordero taught English 220, focusing on the theme and awareness of identify, minorities and abject otherness within literature. At the end of the semester she and her class organized a public event at SDSU Love Library, titled “Voice for Change.” The event was an evening dedicated to the creative arts and poetry as a vehicle to voice social justice and change.

As a graduate student and leader, Cordero helps run the SDSU Poetic Youth Organization, dedicated to community outreach through poetry and creative writing. Cordero was a facilitator and instructor, working with Sudanese children refugees during a writing workshop, teaching children how to creatively express their trauma, fears, hopes and dreams as survivors of their generation.

Her project, “Voices for the Undocumented” — a writing workshop series and publication — created research opportunities and raised awareness about the struggles and hardships of a community of people who are undocumented seeking the American Dream, in collaboration with Casa Del Migrante in Mexicali, Mexico.

Alumni Diversity Award — Samuel Q. Brown, '96, Viejas Tribal Treasurer

Samuel Q. Brown.

Samuel Q. Brown received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from San Diego State University in 1996.

He was elected as the Viejas Tribal Treasurer in 2011. As Tribal Treasurer, Brown is responsible for tribal finances and cash management. His focus and approach includes creating a policy of transparency, trust and accountability.

Brown also represents the Tribe in the pursuit of economic development to ensure a sound financial future for generations to come. He is framing the groundwork for investments, using the tribe’s inherent sovereignty to develop tribally and jointly owned businesses. This charter will represent a blueprint for all future investments, creating a prosperous business environment on or off the reservation.

Brown enjoys spending time with his parents and daughter Isabella.

His hobbies include snow skiing, running half marathons and working out, believing running and working out not only maintains physical health and wellness, but also mental well-being.

More information

The Diversity Awards ceremony will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, in Montezuma Hall of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.

The event is free and open to the public.

Complimentary parking is available in Parking Structure 6, Level 6 only. Guests may park in any space.