President Jeffrey Armstrong awarded individuals and organizations with the faculty, staff and student President’s Diversity Awards on Thursday, May 18 in Kennedy Library’s atrium.
The event opened with remarks by President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, who said that Cal Poly is working to make campus more inclusive. President Armstrong’s speech was followed by disability resource center representative John Lee, who discussed the role of inclusive design on campus.
The faculty winner of the President’s Diversity Awards was Jenell Navarro of the Ethnic Studies department. “I am honored to accept this award, but even more delighted to see students of color receiving acknowledgement for the difficult work they do on our campus. My hope is that these awards continue to highlight and lead us toward structural shifts away from all forms of discrimination on our campus,” she wrote in an email to Kennedy Library. Navarro is the first professor to teach Cal Poly’s Beyonce class, Ethnic Studies 470: Racism, Sexism and Feminism. The class highlights police brutality and societal issues relating to the political climate in relationship to African Americans.
The staff award winner was Justin Gomez of the Orfalea College of Business. Gomez is the coordinator for the Multicultural Business Program and Orfalea Travel grants. He provides guidance and programming for Orfalea CP Scholars and advises the Hispanic Business Students Association.“I am humbled to accept this award and to join the legacy of past recipients whom I respect as colleagues and role models in this work,” Gomez said in a statement to Kennedy Library.
The student award went to Zulema Aleman, a psychology major and student program assistant in the Women and Gender Studies Department. “As a queer woman of color at Cal Poly, it has always been my goal to help make all spaces on campus more inclusive but I am clearly not the only one doing this work and that is awesome!” she said in an emailed statement to Kennedy Library. Aleman is also a program assistant for the science, technology and society minors program, Triota (a feminist club) president, an undocumented students student liaison, and the lead coordinator for Let’s Talk Sex Series.
Recognized in the Campus Organization category, the Undocumented Student Working Group also received the award. The Undocumented Student Working Group provides resources for nearly 200 of Cal Poly’s students. The group educates campus and brings faculty, staff, administration and students together to exchange ideas on how to address undocumented students’ needs. “The Undocumented Student Working Group is honored to be recognized by the university as a campus organization that has and will continue to advocate for undocumented students through diversity and inclusivity initiatives!” CSU STEM VISTA AmeriCorps volunteer Casey McCullough said in a statement to Kennedy Library.
The award for Student Organization went to the American Indian Student Association (AISA). “We are extremely grateful for receiving the award and we hope this recognition will help us in growing our community of Native American and Indigenous students on the Cal Poly campus,” AISA member Tatiana Becerra said.
The afternoon was filled with good company and recognition of the outstanding achievements of students, faculty and staff working to create a more diverse and inclusive environment at Cal Poly. The awards ceremony concluded with handshakes, hugs and friendly conversation outdoors in the library atrium.
Megan Schellong is a fourth-year journalism major with a concentration in news and editing at Cal Poly, and works as a communications student assistant for Kennedy Library. As both a student and a library employee, she brings a unique perspective to sharing stories with the library’s friends and neighbors. Originally from Connecticut, Megan enjoys the abundance of sun and Mexican food in California. She is on a mission to find the best place to eat tacos.