President’s Diversity Awards honor leaders in inclusiveness

Faculty, staff, students to be honored at May reception
By Staff

Faculty, staff and students from across the University of Colorado have been named recipients of the annual President’s Diversity Award, which recognizes significant achievements of individuals and administrative units in developing a more culturally diverse, competent and inclusive university community.

Awardees for 2013 were recognized May 8 in the first floor conference room at 1800 Grant St. Click here to see photos from the event. 

The 2013 honorees:

Sonja Braun-Sand, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCCS, has worked unflaggingly to increase the participation of first generation college students and women in the sciences. Braun-Sand devotes significant volunteer hours at the Girls in STEM events, the Science Olympiad in Southern Colorado and Science Fairs. She also serves as the faculty adviser for the Women in Science student group and UCCS.

Braun-Sand has reinvigorated undergraduate research in her department through a $60,000 Merck/American Academy of Sciences Undergraduate Science Research Program Award and a $300,000 National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program Award. Her REU proposal, “Green Chemistry in Colorful Colorado,” focuses on recruiting students from underrepresented groups and community colleges to perform research on green chemistry and sustainability.

Mary Lassiter, office manager for the Educational Opportunities Programs (EOP) at CU Denver, has been a dedicated ambassador of diversity and humanity for the campus and community at large. In her 20 years working for the EOP office, Lassiter has developed and implemented leadership training for student workers, provided assistance and guidance in the creation of cultural programming and coached many nontraditional students, emphasizing that it is never too late to earn a college degree.

Lassiter has connected with the community through quilting, using exhibits and presentations as an opportunity to share cultural awareness. Her quilting projects have been exhibited throughout the Auraria Campus and the wider community. She has designed a one-credit class on quilting for the Ethnic Studies program at CU Denver.

David Martinez, program assistant for the Journalism and Mass Communication Program at CU-Boulder, has worked tirelessly to support students achieve academic and professional success. In collaboration with professor Paul Voakes, Martinez helped create the JMC summer intensive program for first-generation college students. The program provides students with the tools they need to adjust to the demands of academic life and succeed.

Martinez crafted a successful $8,000 grant proposal that enabled the JMC program to offer a full journalism experience to participants in CU’s Pre-Collegiate and Upward Bound programs. His efforts and leadership in the areas of diversity were instrumental in helping the JMC program focus its attention on successfully “changing its culture” while boosting the program’s case for reaccreditation.

Martinez has also been active with the CU LEAD Alliance and Scholarship Program, the CU-Boulder Equity and Excellence Celebration, the Colorado Coalition for the Educational Advancement of Latinos, and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

Beatriz Salazar, undergraduate student at CU Denver, has been heavily involved with campus activities, student groups and community organizations that foster diversity on campus and within the community. She has volunteered with the Denver Scholarship Foundation to assist first generation bilingual students with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and has worked with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to provide outreach to bilingual parents and students seeking scholarships and financial aid.

On campus, Salazar has served as a Peer Advocate Leader and a Peer Mentor for Hispanic Student Services and the Student Advocacy Center. She is currently the President for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Executive Chair for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar Chapter. Through SHPE, Beatriz helped develop the SHPE Junior Program, which provides high school students scholarships, mentors, tutors and other resources to overcome education barriers while encouraging students to pursue a profession in the STEM fields. Salazar is graduating in the spring of 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a thesis in science and a minor in ethnic studies.

The Black Law Students Association at the Colorado Law School carries an active, influential presence at CU-Boulder, planning imaginative events and providing black students and all other students with a voice, support system and means to connect with diverse alumni and attorneys. In the past year, the BLSA hosted a well-publicized event featuring U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Chair Jacqueline Berrien.

The organization has been active in the greater community, raising and donating 100 law and graduate textbooks to the International Book Project to help create a library at the Harare Institute of Technology in Zimbabwe. It donated another 250 law books to the school libraries in the Denver area including North High School, East High School, South High School, Emily Griffiths Technical School, George Washington High School and Thornton High School.

The group has been active in recruiting future law students by attending and presenting the National Black Pre-Law Conference and Law School Recruitment Fair.

The CU Dialogues Program offers a suite of programing designed to promote civic engagement, active and participatory hands-on learning, inclusivity and intersectionality, cross-cultural communication, community building and academic achievement. The program has offered facilitated classroom discussion programs that implement diversity in lessons and in student research and writing. Students are able to engage personally with community members and their peers to draw connections between the campus and the larger community.

The program has worked to bring speakers and implement workshops on diversity, collaborating with the Program for Writing and Rhetoric to develop the Undergraduate Diversity Conference. The dialogues program was recently honored by the Milestones Project, a photography and oral history exhibit, for Colorado Conflict Resolution Month.

Also receiving commendations for 2013:

Daniela Castorena, undergraduate student at CU Denver, has served as the President for the Society of TRiO Student Club and as a mentor for the CU Denver Summer Bridge Program. As a Summer Bridge mentor, Castorena provided one-on-one peer mentoring, assistance in locating academic and student support services and help for students making the transition from high school to college.

Castorena also worked with the Denver Scholarship Foundation, Denver Public Schools and the Bruce Randolph School to provide outreach and recruitment of low-income, first-generation students.

Sheri Rosen, student at the CU School of Medicine, designed the Creative Writing and Reading Partnership Program to improve the reading and writing skills of students in the neighborhoods bordering the Anschutz Medical Campus. The program has enrolled 74 kindergarten through fifth-grade students in the reading program and an additional 32 third- to fifth-grade students in the writing programs. At the end of the writing sessions, Rosen will compile the students’ stories, autobiographies and photographs into a book that each student will receive.

Andrew Yeh, undergraduate student at CU Denver, served as a leader for the Asian Student Alliance and collaborated with the Vietnamese Student Association, CU Denver Student Government and the Hawaii Club of Auraria to host events that celebrate Asian American culture and raise awareness about Asian American issues. With five other college students, Yeh founded the Colorado Asian Pacific Youth Association to provide leadership development and cultural awareness for Asian American youth. The program provides training and mentoring for 25 to 30 Asian American high school and college students.

Yeh was recently honored in “Asian Avenue Magazine” as an outstanding youth leader for his contributions to the Asian-American community.