Eight members of the UNC community were recognized in the 2022 Diversity Awards, which are part of an annual effort to award people who help promote diversity, equity and inclusion at the University.
Nominees are accepted into six categories: undergraduate student, graduate/professional student/postdoc, staff, faculty, alumni and intergroup collaboration. All categories except staff and faculty had one winner.
The 2022 award recipients were senior Grace Stevens, graduate student Tayliz Rodriguez, staff members Kim Allen and Trinnette Cooper, faculty members Trenette Goings and Michal Osterweil, alumnus Christopher Riddick and the Chancellor's Science Scholars.
To be nominated, those in the campus community must demonstrate a commitment to creating a culture of inclusion, or must implement a project that advances diversity, equity or inclusion.
Leah Cox, vice provost of equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, said she announced this year’s winners.
“Just like we recognize great research on our campus or we recognize our athletes, I think it's important to recognize those folks who are doing work on our campus to help us to begin to make changes at UNC," Cox said.
According to Cox, it’s imperative to have a diverse group of students, faculty and staff working on campus.
Awardees are eligible to win every four years, unless an individual wins in the intergroup collaboration. Nominations are received in January and February. A committee of faculty, staff and students review the applicants and select each category’s winners.
The awardees are informed in March each year. Every April, the Diversity Awards ceremony is held. However, due to COVID-19, the ceremony has transitioned to a virtual format for the past two years.
The Diversity Awards began in 2008 to celebrate outstanding advocates of the University community.
Michal Osterweil is a teaching associate professor in the global studies department. She was nominated by the chairperson of her department, Banu Gökarıksel.
Over the last several years, Osterweil said she has been a liaison for diversity, equity and inclusion. She has led initiatives on “transformative pedagogy within the curriculum and in the University that centered a perspective on diversity, equity and inclusion work."
Osterweil has led retreats and workshops with UNC faculty that focused on bringing anti-racism perspectives into the curriculum. She said she believes that being anti-racist and actively decolonizing the University is very important.
Osterweil said White supremacy is built into the modern-day University, and fighting against that is central to what it means to be committed to bringing about a better future. She believes the awards are a nice way of highlighting the important work people are doing, and that they allow ideas to spread.
"I don't think the awards are the reason for the work," Osterweil said.
Rodriguez is a graduate student recipient in the chemistry department. She found out that she had won the award through her advisor, who nominated her.
Rodriguez serves as the co-president of Allies for Minorities and Women in Science and Engineering, which is a group she described as a “broad advocacy organization that aims to essentially empower graduate students and postdocs."
The group developed a peer mentoring program that paired first-year graduate students with seniors, she said. It ensured that all students had access to the same resources, no matter their background.
Another organization Rodriguez is involved with is WinSPIRE, which allows Women in STEM to promote inclusive research experiences. Rodriguez said the program assigns research mentors to young women in high school.
“I'm really fortunate that I've been able to work with people in all spheres, here at Carolina," Rodriguez said.
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