The Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award was created in 1994 to honor women of color from around the state for their leadership in making significant and lasting contributions to their campuses, their communities, or both.
Successful candidates are women of color whose contributions have advanced the work of diversity, equity, and Inclusive Excellence in the following ways:
- Whose advocacy, activism, or scholarship has fostered social justice and organizational change;
- Who have created positive transformation within their institutions and/or the community to achieve the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and
- Whose efforts are improving the climate for, or status of, people of color.
The selection guidelines for the Outstanding Women of Color in Education Awards are:
- The selection of honorees is entirely campus-based. Chancellors, in consultation with the Multicultural / Disadvantaged Coordinator, Chief Diversity Officer, Women’s Studies Administrator, Ethnic Studies Administrator, Affirmative Action Administrator, LGBTQ+ Coordinator, or campus contact for Inclusive Excellence will select one honoree.
- Honorees may be drawn from the following groups: UW System faculty, staff, student, or community member.
2021 Award Recipients
2022 Call for Nominations
Nomination Deadline: TBD
Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award Recipients
- Winnifred Bryant, Professor of Biology, Department Chair, UW-Eau Claire
- Renita Robinson, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Prevea Health, selected by UW-Green Bay
- Monica Yang, Outreach Program Manager I, Multicultural Student Services, UW-La Crosse
- Sami Schalk, Associate Professor, Department of Gender & Women’s Studies, UW-Madison
- Brittany Ochoa-Nordstrum, Graduate Teaching Assistant, UW-Milwaukee
- Doris Johnson Browne, Counselor/Therapist, UW-Milwaukee
- Elisabeth Arguello, PreCollege Programs Coordinator, UW Oshkosh
- Giovanna Gutierrez, Outreach Program Manager and Assistant to the Dean, UW-Parkside
- Angela Yang, Interim Assistant Director, TRIO Student Support Services, UW-Platteville
- Natasha Rayne, Assistant Professor, Plant and Earth Science, UW-River Falls
- Kaia Fitzgerald, Student, UW-Stevens Point
- Wei Zheng, Professor and Program Director, Plastics Engineering Program, UW-Stout
- Salisa Hochstetler, Assistant Director for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, UW-Superior
- Ana Caballero Mengibar, Associate Director, Undergraduate Research Program, UW-Whitewater
- Heather Ann Moody, Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies, UW-Eau Claire
- Cristina Ortiz, Professor of Spanish, UW-Green Bay
- Taviare L. Hawkins, Professor, Department of Physics, UW-La Crosse
- Mariela Victoria Quesada Centeno, Graduate Student, Human Development and Family Studies, School of Human Ecology, UW-Madison
- Joan M. Prince, Vice Chancellor for Global Inclusion and Engagement, UW-Milwaukee
- Veronica Warren, Associate Director, Counseling Center, UW-Oshkosh
- Sheronda Glass, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Human Resources and Employee Engagement, UW-Parkside
- Dong Isbister, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for Women’s and Gender Studies Program, UW-Platteville
- Catherine Nasara, Professor of English, UW-River Falls
- Courtney Taylor, Former Multicultural Resource Center Coordinator, UW-Stevens Point
- Glendalí Rodríguez, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, UW-Stout
- Katrina M. Werchouski, Assistant Director for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, UW-Superior
- Artanya Wesley, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, UW-Whitewater
- Jan Larson, UW-Eau Claire
- María Yolanda Peña, UW-Extension
- Alana Dallas, UW-Green Bay
- Graciela Engen, UW-La Crosse
- Christy Clark-Pujara, UW-Madison
- Brenda Cárdenas, UW-Milwaukee
- Kayoung Kim, UW-Oshkosh
- Mai Khou Xiong, UW-Oshkosh
- Laura Khoury, UW-Parkside
- Jacqueline Hunter, UW-Platteville
- Manu Sharma, UW-River Falls
- Brigitte Benitez-Vargas, UW-Stevens Point
- Otaasia Barfeld, UW-Stout
- Lorena Rios Mendoza, UW-Superior
- Ozalle Toms, UW-Whitewater
Maa Vue was a student at UW-Marathon until her graduation with an Associate Degree in May of 2014. In addition to being a nationally-known Hmong language singer, who helping to preserve the traditions and language of the Hmong, Maa Vue is known as a highly talented student leader who functions at a professional level, especially in helping other students develop leadership skills. This is most evident in her service as the campus Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) Executive Director.
UW-Marathon County is located in Wausau, which has the highest per capita Hmong population in the United States. The MRC provides a key role in helping the campus recruit, support, and retain Hmong students, while also supporting students from other underrepresented populations and working toward increasing awareness of diversity on campus and in the local community. Without funding for a staff position, the MRC is entirely run by a student director and six MRC Advisory Board student leaders. They receive mentoring and support from volunteer faculty and staff advisory board members. In the past, the MRC has had difficulty training leaders and maintaining consistent programming from one year to the next because it relies so heavily on leadership from students who are in their first two college years. Maa Vue has created an innovative leadership-training program allowing the MRC to build a sustainable program for helping first-generation and minority students become connected to the campus community while also developing transferable skills. Her ‘build student leadership’ approach to directing the MRC has also resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of minority students who use the MRC as a support resource.
Maa Vue is an extraordinarily talented student leader who has created a strong Multicultural Resource Center program that provides substantial educational and social support to students from underrepresented populations. Her approach engages young Hmong women, who have never participated in extracurricular activities, to take on leadership roles, engage in community service, build skills for their future professions, and start the path toward becoming lifelong community leaders. Under her leadership the MRC is creating an inclusive campus learning-environment that includes students with disabilities and international multilingual students and that provides at-risk students with a social support network of peers. She also includes area high school students in leadership activities, which has helped the MRC make connections with minority first-generation students who are preparing to attend college. Maa achieved all of these things with a budget of just a few thousand dollars and while attending school as a sophomore. Because of Maa Vue, UW-Marathon County now has an effective structure in place for building effective Multicultural Resource Center programs for many years to come.
Maa Vue, we honor you.
Shelley King-Curry is a Family Living Programs Specialist for the Wisconsin Nutrition Program of UW-Extension. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in Human Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University.
As an Extension specialist, Shelley is responsible for designing and coordinating training for nearly 200 nutrition colleagues throughout the state. She provides content support in the area of Food Resources Management, a major focus of the Wisconsin Education Program, and she advises colleagues on educational efforts. Shelley is not only a master teacher, providing well-organized, detailed and creative professional development, also serves as a mentor and coach for nutrition colleagues and for those in other program areas.
Described as a welcoming, caring, respectful, positive, role model, creative, person of passion, much of Shelley’s success comes from her life and early career experience. Her understanding and empathy was developed working with low resource people in Detroit, where she grew up. She understands the daily challenges of people who need food assistance and who struggle in societal systems that are biased and oppressive. Before joining Wisconsin Extension 9 years ago, Shelley served as regional nutrition coordinator and a family and consumer sciences educator with Michigan State University Extension working in Detroit. Prior to that, she was a community nutritionist and nutrition educator with the WIC Supplemental Food and Nutrition Education Program, also in Detroit.
Shelley coaches and mentors new colleagues to develop competence with educational content, and master the skills of empowering people to better their lives, starting with the food choices they make for themselves and their families. She does not shy away from uncomfortable discussions about inclusion issues. A colleague from the agriculture program area recalls: “Shelley has been there for me when I’ve needed to talk about some difficult issues related to diversity in my program. Her insight and experience helped me see the situations from a new perspective, which enabled me to build a more inclusive statewide program.”
Shelley always finds time to help colleagues and is a respected mentor. She has been sought out for leadership roles throughout Cooperative Extension. She served as chair of the statewide 2009 Family Living Programs conference titled “Family Portraits: Diverse Families in Changing Communities” and co-chaired the planning of the 2009 New Orleans Multicultural Immersion Experience for Cooperative Extension. A member of the Civil Rights Leadership Team, the Professional Development Framework Workgroup, she also contributes to numerous other Inclusive Excellence efforts.
She resides in Madison, where she volunteers as a breastfeeding consultant for the African American Breastfeeding Alliance of Dane County and has an adult son.
Shelley King-Curry, we honor you.
The campus Commission on the Status of Women nominated Dr. Chaudhuri for her long-term commitment to enhancing the lives of women through her program of research. Sanjukta’sresearch specializes in the economics of gender inequality including gender gap in infant and child mortality, women's empowerment, and gender issues in South Asia. Her scholarship is dedicated to addressing gender inequalities and identifying ways to improve the economic wellbeing of women and girls.
Her paper "A Life Course Model of Rights Realization, Female Empowerment, and Gender Inequality in India" was published in the December 2013 issue of World Development, which is one of the highest ranked peer-reviewed journals in economics and the top-ranked journal in development studies. Another recent publication appeared in the International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health and was recognized in January 2012 by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization dedicated to advancing sexual and reproductive health worldwide through research, policy analysis, and public education.
Sanjukta Chaudhuri was a recipient of the 2012-13 American Summer/Short-Term Research Publication Grant sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and in the fall of 2012 she was recognized by the UW-Eau Claire Office of Research and Sponsored Programs during the annual Author’s Celebration.
Dr. Chaudhuri is recognized as an educator committed to integrating her research around women’s economic lives into the classroom. She has taught courses on Women and the Labor Market, Economics of American Minorities, and Examining Women's Studies. She is a highly valued colleague who actively serves as a Women’s Studies Affiliate that regularly participates in Women’s Studies Program related activities. She has served the university in many capacities that have furthered the well being of campus women including as a former member of Commission on the Status of Women.
Sanjukta Chaudhuri’s attention to and efforts towards improving the lives of women locally, nationally, and internationally makes her as an outstanding recipient for this award. She is an excellent representative of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and the Eau Claire community.
Sanjukta Chaudhuri, we honor you.
Giselle Simons is a UW-Green Bay Alumni and has served for 10 years as the Latino/Hispanic Counselor at East High School, one of the most diverse high schools in the city of Green Bay. She is known for her commitment to diversity, and especially to Latina/Hispanic students. In addition to her role as a Latino/Hispanic counselor, Ms. Simons has served the Green Bay School District and community in many capacities: from chairing committees to tirelessly advocating for the expansion of educational opportunities for Latino/Hispanic students. Because of her experience and expertise on issues pertaining Latino students, she has been an invited guest-speaker in the UWGB college course “Cultura Latina” several times. In the course she shared with college students her experiences of growing up Latina in the city of Green Bay.
Giselle is an advocate of the endless benefits of education and she makes sure that she creates programs to ensure that Latino/Hispanic students achieve academic success. In that regards, she created a successful mentoring program between UW-Green Bay and East High School. Recently, she became a board of director member of Scholarships Inc., and was appointed to chair the scholarship committee; a committee created to allocate scholarships to help financially needy students – including DACA and undocumented students - to attend college. Her outstanding dynamism, professionalism and ability to bring diverse people together to work towards a common goal make her an effective and well-liked leader in this work.
As a first generation immigrant, Ms. Simons understands well from personal experience the challenges Latinas face to further their education. As she worded in her Professional Development Research:
“There is a strong need in the Green Bay Public Schools to find ways to support the special needs of our Hispanic students and to encourage them to become life-long learners. It is my job to support and guide my students while they are in high school, to assure their academic success, but it is also my job to ensure that they can be successful, productive members of our society after they graduate.”
Giselle Simons exemplifies very well the spirit of the UW-System Outstanding Women of Color in Education. She is an outstanding dedicated leader in education who serves as a tireless advocate for Latino/Hispanic students. She is, without a doubt, a role model for many Latinas in our community. For this and so much me we honor her.
Giselle Simons, we honor you.
Dr. Sara Docan-Morgan is an Associate Professor in the Communication Studies Department at UW La Crosse. Dr. Docan-Morgan came to UW La Crosse in 2008, where she teaches courses that address issues of difference, including such courses as Intercultural Communication, Communication and Race, and Interpersonal Communication. In these classes, she addresses issues of power, privilege, and discrimination, often harnessed around women’s issues.
Both through her teaching and advising, Sara has developed many caring, mentoring relationships with both women and men of color. Even after they graduate, she continues to support and advise many of her students. Much her curriculum guides students to understand the connections among community and culture. In one class for example, she gives an assignment called the Cultural Connections project, which requires students to spend time in a culture (broadly defined) that is outside of their comfort zone and then write and present about this experience as it relates to course concepts and theories. Students volunteer at a needle exchange program for drug addicts, become regular volunteers at organizations for the poor, and change their perceptions about other religions. Regardless of the course she teaches, one of her goals is to encourage students to bring awareness to issues related to privilege and oppression and, subsequently, to change their communication.
Dr. Docan-Morgan’s research agenda focuses on Korean adoptees’ family communication, both in birth families and adoptive families. Her research, which gives voice to female and male Korean adoptees, has examined Korean adoptees’ experiences with racism and their families’ reported responses, as well as Korean adoptees’ experiences with intrusive comments/questions posed to themselves and their adoptive families. Her work appears in top-quality peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the Journal of Family Communication, and Adoption and Culture. Because her research holds practical significance for adoptive families, she has conducted workshops with adoptive parent groups, including Families Through Korean Adoption, a group for parents of adopted children from Korea, in Madison, WI.
On campus, Dr. Docan-Morgan has started a group for faculty and instructional staff who identify as women of color. She has created a safe space where women can connect with one another, and give and receive support. There was no group on campus that targeted this demographic specifically, even though research suggests that women of color experience dual oppression. In three gatherings last year, attendees were from various departments, and they expressed most interest in talking about shared issues related to their identities as women of color, and simply getting together socially. Dr. Docan-Morgan has also served as chairperson on the Joint Minority Affairs Committee and as member of the CLS Diversity Committee. She also gives regular talks on campus related to family, culture, adoption, gender, and race.
Sara Docan-Morgan, we honor you.
Dr. Lillian Tong has served as an educator and research scientist at UW-Madison for thirty-three years. During that time, she has contributed significantly to education on the issues of women in science; rallied diverse forces together to advance the agenda of women and students of color; created positive changes at the institutional level; and continually worked to develop an increased understanding, among STEM faculty, staff, and future faculty, of the interplay of culture in the lives of women and students of color in the UW.
Tong successfully incorporates inclusivity into everything she does, whether it’s professional development courses for graduate students, collaborative initiatives with faculty and staff, book groups, or programs and events for STEM educators across campus. It is simply part of the way she operates. As a consequence,regardless of the specific pedagogical approaches or instructional design activities she uses, all of the work that faculty, staff, and future faculty do with her raises awareness and explores strategies for broadening access to and participation in science.
Lil Tong engages the science community by building networks that explicitly address diversity challenges. She connects educators around strategies such as implementing interventions to reduce stereotype threat and harnessing the research expertise of faculty to advance the success of diverse student populations and reduce the achievement gap in STEM courses. She works tirelessly to bring faculty and staff together from across the disciplines to build respectful and inclusive communities of practice. She creates safe spaces for experts from different fields to learn from one another, with the common goal of working together to enhance the student learning experience.
One of Lil’s most recent contributions to institutional change is her active participation in the UW-Madison Ad Hoc Diversity Plan Committee convened in February 2013 to create the campus diversity framework, Forward Together. She currently also serves on the Asian American Studies Program Faculty Advisory Committee after being involved in many activities, including the Pacific Asian Women's Alliance, that led to the creation of the Asian American Studies program. Lil has bridged campus and community, actively participating in the Wisconsin Organization of Asian Americans (WOAA), a community advocacy group, that has taken up many social, cultural, economic, and political issues from a perspective of unity of a diverse Asian American community with in our state.
In addition to serving as a mentor/friend to the undergraduate scholars in the Chancellor's Scholar Program, Lil has served as a member of the many important campus committees addressing teaching and learning through diversity, and she is an active member of the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI). She has additionally served on National Science Foundation (NSF) Panels that award scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics(S-STEM) programs and as a facilitator on the National Academies of Sciences Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology.
Lillian Tong’s work is about hope and transformation. Her work is suffused with both critique and healing, and with the science that demonstrates need through the evidence of research while offer recommendations for how to make needed change.
Lillian Tong, we honor you.
Dr. Shawnika Hull is an Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at UW-Madison. She threads social justice, advocacy, and community service on behalf of women of color and other marginalized communities through all of her scholarly research, teaching, and community building. Shawnika has channeled her research into such areas as the efficacy of particular message frames for health campaigns that promote HIV testing for young women of color, helping scholars and practitioners better understand how to reach women of color with messages that address the complexities of their lived experiences.
She is particularly interested in addressing the ways differences in the social structure translate into disparities in health and wellness, her research focuses on social determinants of health disparities for people of color, women, gay people, and those that sit at the intersection of these identity groups. For example, based on research findings that Black gay and bisexual men are one of the most disproportionately affected subgroups in the US for HIV infection and also that significant segments of the Milwaukee community were either vaguely aware of anti-gay discrimination in the community or were resistant to addressing it, Shawnika joined a partnership with a group committed to the health development of LGBT people in Wisconsin. They developed Acceptance Journeys, a social marketing campaign that uses the personal stories and images from parents, pastors, friends, colleagues, and public figures to address anti-gay discrimination and social acceptance. These stories and images were made public on billboards throughout the city. This social-justice focused, community-collaborated research project has had significant outcomes on community awareness and social marketing research.
A fine educator, as well Shawnika recently received an Honored Instructor Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her teaching philosophy is striking for its emphasis on listening and compassion towards students. Her use of a wide variety of examples drawn not only from typical college experience but also from her research and her own life, she inspires students to expand their knowledge boundaries and critically think on new levels for them. Through her success in securing grant funding to support her research, Shawnika has provided partial funding in the form of tuition, salary, fringe benefits and travel allowance for her students since 2012. In addition, she is the faculty advisor to the National Association of Black Journalists’ UW-Madison chapter. Finally she serves as an informal advisor and mentor for both undergraduate and graduate students (many of color) not only in this department but also in the Population Health Institute with which she is affiliated.
For the past four years, Shawnika has been key in organizing two on-campus and two off-campus blood drives with the American Red Cross in order to support people with sickle cell anemia, a disease that disproportionately impacts African Americans. Additionally, Shawnika is a tutor at Sherman Elementary School, where she helps middle school-aged children with their reading, comprehension and critical thinking each week as part of the Schools of Hope program.
Shawnika Hull, we honor you.
Chia Youyee Vang is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Hmong Diaspora Studies Certificate Program at UW-Milwaukee. Dr. Vang has been a tireless advocate for women of color and women's studies scholarship and activism.
Professor Vang is an interdisciplinary historian whose research interests have focused on how Southeast Asian refugees following the Vietnam War have rebuilt their lives and communities in US society since the mid-1970s. Her teaching areas include twentieth century US-Asia relations, Hmong/Asian American history, and the Vietnam War. She regularly contributes to other learning environments as a guest speaker.
Professor Vang is an innovative teacher who understands the virtual learning environment of today’s technology savvy students by developing and teaching online and blended courses. In addition to advising history students, she contributes her time and expertise by serving on many masters and doctoral committees in other departments. Since 2009, she has offered a short-term winterim programs to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to give American students opportunities to interact with and learn from people in Southeast Asia. Women students constitute more than 80 percent of program participants.
When she joined UWM in 2006, she worked with colleagues, students, and community leaders to develop a certificate program in Hmong diaspora studies, which was implemented in fall 2009. The program has collaborated with the Women’s Resource Center and Union Sociocultural Programming to bring Asian American women performers and speakers to campus, contributing to the diversity of activities and events at UWM. She is committed to building undergraduate students’ capacity to go to graduate school as illustrated by her efforts to obtain a grant to establish the Southeast Asian American Research Project. Six students (five female and one male) learned how to design and conduct research. She has also partnered with the Hmong American Peace Academy charter school to implement a Hmong Arts Preservation Initiative to work with students in grades nine and ten to conduct oral history with elders.
Through her leadership position as Co-Chair of the Asian Faculty & Staff Association (AFSA) and as Director of the Hmong Diaspora Studies Certificate Program, Dr. Vang has been instrumental in bringing about positive changes at UWM, specifically, in curriculum development and infusion of content on women and diversity. With two other colleagues she is in the process of completing work on an edited volume, Claiming Place: Hmong Women, Gender and Knowledge Production, which is a collection of essays that foreground ways in which Hmong (refugee) women exert agency and transform both their own lives and those of others. The volume with be published by the University of Minnesota Press.
Through her own teaching, research and service contributions both on campus and in the community, Dr. Vang has raised the visibility and recognition of women of color as scholars, educators, researchers and citizens. In her adeptness at balancing the professional and personal, she has become an important role model for the upcoming generations who aspire to join the leadership ranks of women in academia.
Chia Youyee Vang, we honor you.
Grace Lim is an adjunct professor in the writing/editing emphasis for the Department of Journalism at UW Oshkosh. She has been a staff reporter for The Miami Herald and the Austin American-Statesman covering crime, education and business. Grace teaches her students that true stories have great power, that they have the power to inform, and they have power to effect change. She works with her student producing multimedia projects to discovered the power of storytelling and celebrate diversity on many levels.
Her series, War: Through Their Eyes began in 2009. That first project gave 16 student soldiers at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and Marines a forum to tell the world why they enlisted, what they did and what they felt at the front lines of war. Their stories, which were told in an 80-page book, a series of podcasts and a photo gallery, gave readers a glimpse into a world that most will never see. The second in the series, Warriors & Nurses, continued that tradition of giving our veterans a name, a face and a voice. That project, which was produced fall of 2012, featured five current students or alumni of the College of Nursing who’ve left the battlefields and entered into a field of healing. Warriors & Students is the third of the War: Through Their Eyes series. This latest installment features the work of 10 journalism students who’ve produced a 100-page book, 300 online journal entries and 30 audio podcasts that highlight the stories of 10 student veterans. All three projects attracted a diverse audience from the campus community and beyond. By interacting with the veterans, Grace Lim’s students learned about a certain small segment of the U.S. population - those who volunteer to serve in the U.S. military. These men and women are among the 1 percent charged to protect the other 99 percent. The War: Through Their Eyes photo exhibits will be part of the new Military Veterans Museum and Education Center, when it opens later this year.
Another class project, Green Medicine: From the Mountains of Laos to the Labs at UW Oshkosh was a multicultural, multimedia project that highlights the story of a young Hmong research student at UW Oshkosh and how his work has led him to discover a past that began in the mountains and jungles in Southeast Asia, some 8,500 miles away. What began as a simple story of a young man and his research turned into a heart-rending and inspirational tale about science, family traditions, honor, sacrifice, peace and war. Lim’s students, many of whom knew little about the Hmong culture, were surprised to learn how the past connects with the present and how the dream for a better future transcends geographic boundaries and culture. This class project resulted in a full-color magazine, an online publication, a photo gallery exhibit and a multimedia presentation that was unveiled to a standing-room only crowd at the Reeve Union Theatre and Steinhilber Gallery in 2013.
Grace Lim, we honor you.
Mentoring students, in particular students of color and women, has been a strong suit for Dr. Correa while at UW-Parkside. She has participated in multiple Bilingual and Multicultural student-family oriented open houses at UW-Parkside in order to reach out to communities who have historically not had easy access to education. By working with first-generation, minority students, and their families, she has been able to bridge the gap between the university and the community through meaningful dialogue about the importance of a higher education and the financial opportunities available to them through the university. UW-Parkside has a large number of first-generation, racial/ethnic minority students enrolled in its institution compared to its counterparts in the UW system.
At the national level, the number of Latina/o students enrolled in colleges/universities is gaining some upward momentum. In light of this, as a Latina of Mexican-origin, Dr. Correa stands as an exemplary role model for other Latinas/os in the community, who wish to pursue a post-secondary education. Bridging the gap between the university and the community has been and will continue to be a central concern for Dr. Correa, as she works to increase the number of first-generation and minority students at UW-Parkside by working closely with students and families in the region.
Jennifer has taught fundamental courses for the Sociology and Anthropology department at UW-Parkside that are cross-listed with Ethnic Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, courses such as Latinas/os in the U.S., which focuses on the history of this growing population as well as the socio-political impacts of their growing presence in the U.S. In 2013, Jennifer Correa created the first course at UW-Parkside that examines the lived experiences of people in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer (LGBTQ) community. These courses have been critical in demystifying the racialized and heteronormative understandings concerning these two marginalized communities. Meanwhile, these courses have generated much enthusiasm from students of color, women, and students who wish to enrich their knowledge of these communities as they pioneer into a global economy.
As a member of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Steering Committee, Jennifer Correa has championed women's rights as human rights and participated in a mini-conference organized by the committee at UW-Parkside concerning the theme of citizenship and rights. She presented a paper entitled "Bad Romance: The State vs. Women's Citizenship Rights," which focused on the feminist/ women's liberation movements of the 1960s in the United States with a critique of civil and political rights, and the importance of a human rights framework within the modern-day feminist movement.
Jennifer Correa, we honor you.
Lakisha Clinton is a 2014 graduate in political science from University of Wisconsin-Platteville. During her years at UW-Platteville Lakisha emerged from being a quiet, insecure girl, blossoming into an extraordinary woman who is not afraid to take risks and challenge herself to make a difference on campus.
Clinton began her college career as biology major. During that time she conducted research on stem cells and practiced her public speaking skills. After establishing connections with other students and potential employers who shared a similar interest in politics, Clinton changed her major to political science and also pursued a certificate in ethnic studies.
Lakisha has held positions on Student Senate including senator and senior senator for the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture, as well as a senator for the College of Liberal Arts and Education. Moreover, she was named inclusive affairs director of students and worked to increase awareness of diversity on campus.
To say Lakisha Clinton took an active role to better the campus is an understatement. She not only engaged, but led the university in many areas that bring the campus community a better understanding of race and gender issues. Clinton chaired the Inclusive Affairs Committee for Student Senate; served on the University Women’s Council, Sexual Assault Awareness Committee, Affirmative Action Committee and Inclusive Excellence Committee; co-founded the UW-Platteville Fusion X Hip Hop Dance Team; served as a member of the Pre-Law Society Organization; worked with the Women in EMS Program; and gave campus tours to prospective students. She also started a “Bridging the Gap” conference in 2013, bringing together a variety of student organizations to discuss issues and solutions to bring them closer together; and attended missionary trips to Greenwood, Mississippi working with both students and teachers.
Despite all of her accomplishments, Clinton says that mentoring students is what she is most proud of.
“Being a mentor to students, especially ones with similar backgrounds as mine, has been the most rewarding,” she said. “Being there for them just as I wished someone was there for me is what I enjoy the most. I like to think that I help guide them in the right direction.”
Her campus community expects her to continue to be an advocate for those who are less fortunate and struggling in life with poverty, racism, sexism, and poor educational opportunities. Clinton is currently working at Perkins Coie LLP in Washington DC as the Political Law Project Assistant, while studying for the Law School Admissions Test. Clinton plans on attending graduate school in hopes of obtaining a degree in law.
Lakisha Clinton, we honor you.
As the Project Director of TRIO Upward Bound program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Bee was originally hired as an advisor for the program in fall 2010. Since then she has progressively taken on all duties and responsibilities for the program; becoming the Interim Director in fall 2011 and eventually the permanent hire in fall 2012. In the short time that Bee has held this leadership role, she has made significant improvements in the UWRF Upward Bound program at Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul, MN.
Students in the Upward Bound program are primarily students of color, low income, and first generation. Under Bee’s leadership Upward Bound is consistently achieving a 100% graduation rate among its seniors and all but one of the UB students has exceeded the grade point goal for the program. Bee saw that many of the UB students encountered transportation challenges and were unable to get to events and service learning activities. She worked with the other UB staff member to develop a new program that teaches students how to use public transportation in the Twin Cities. Bee also schedules special upper classmen visits to a variety of universities to give students exposure to and build their confidence navigating higher education.
Bee has developed strong partnerships both with UWRF organizations and external groups, including offering collaborative events with the UWRF Asian American Student Association; busing UWRF Falcon Tutors to Washington Tech for individualized tutoring; working with the UWRF Physics Department during the summer program to expose students to the sciences through the IceCube project; partnering with the UWRF College of Education and Professional Studies for ACT test preparation; offering a financial aid night with post-event individualized FAFSA completion advising in collaboration with other pre-college programs at Washington Tech, and partnering with St. Paul Public School Office of College Career Readiness.
Bee wrote the current TRiO Upward Bound grant proposal and received funding from the US Department of Education totaling over $1.6 million for five years. This was a highly competitive grant program and several existing programs were not funded due to budget reductions. Bee has also submitted other grant proposals in support of the Upward Bound students. Bee Vang goes beyond the requirements of the grant to offer extra programming such as a summer bridge program and senior series. She has taken on teaching “Becoming a Master Student” and “Pre-Bridge: Rising Seniors” during the 6-week summer program.
Bee is truly committed to helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed.
Bee Vang, we honor you.
Dr. Ogunnaike-Lafe has been at UW-Stevens Point since fall 1997 and became a full professor in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the fall 2013. She has expertise in early childhood education and is the Coordinator of the campus Early Childhood Education program and is one of the major professors in the major.
As part of her course load, she teaches the course in which students are expected to develop an “Agents of Change” project that has a focus on responding to a need in a home, school, or community organization. As a result of these projects, students, with Ogunnaike-Lafe’s guidance, have completed meaningful projects involving community, home, and school environments. In the community, an informational booklet was devised for adults experiencing domestic violence. For adolescent parents of all backgrounds, the importance of literacy was facilitated through parent education and provision of materials. In the home environment, support for single mothers and first-time mothers was provided in terms of a manual focusing on key infant needs and adult behaviors. To understand the needs of the parents, interviews were conducted to determine their specific needs and then information was developed to address their specific needs. More personal care was provided for one family having a child with severe disabilities. Within the school environment, an environmental educational play space was developed for a Head Start Program. At UW-SP, non-traditional students were provided resources that involved information regarding finances, health care, and family activities to enhance their transition. Backpacks of necessary school supplies were provided for children experiencing low socio-economic status. In review of these meaningful projects, the needs of families from diverse backgrounds were addressed and resulted in long-term positive effects. One cannot underscore sufficiently the positive benefit these projects associated with Agents of Change have had. These projects were just a sample of what has been completed.
Beyond her teaching, Dr. Ogunnaike-Lafe has a consistent research interest in responding to the needs of fathers from diverse backgrounds. On an international level, Dr. Ogunnaike-Lafe has worked on curriculum development for the Human Factor Leadership Academy in Akatsi, Ghana. Oluyomi Ogunnaike-Lafe is a very effective professor and researcher, who celebrates all persons. She models celebration of all persons and is highly sensitive to the perspectives of others.
Oluyomi Ogunnaike-Lafe, we honor you.
Vickie Sanchez coordinates PreCollege and Stoutward Bound Summer Bridge programs for the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Vickie exemplifies inclusivity, diversity and equity with the highest ethical standards. Her contributions make a difference because she cultivates inclusive excellence with innovative programs and services to enhance compositional diversity, campus climate and equity in outcomes.
As the Coordinator of Stoutward Bound, a living and learning community that serves first year Asian, African American, American Indian and Latino students. The majority of the student participants are women of color. Under Vickie’s leadership since 2011, Stoutward Bound increased retention rates to eliminate the achievement gap between Stoutward Bound underrepresented minority participants and white students. Stoutward Bound students have higher retention rates than other minority and all new freshmen. Vickie coordinates the recruitment and services for students to thrive at UW Stout. She works with Admissions, Housing, Advisement, Dean of Students, Counseling, Career Services, Financial Aid and many individual faculty and staff to maximize student success. She coordinates mentoring, financial literacy, cultural enrichment, leadership development and academic support services. These students often serve on Stout Student Association, as Resident Advisors and in various leadership positions throughout the Stout community. Vickie is able to rally diverse forces together to advance the status and climate for underrepresented minority students.
Vickie also serves as the PreCollege Coordinator and develops career focused summer residential programs to serve high school age students from low-income environments. She recruits diverse student populations for three different programs with the majority of the students being young women of color. Under Vickie’s leadership, Students, Faculty and Staff are a part of the successful programs. Students consistently report increased desire to attend college after their positive experience at UW Stout.
Vickie works many long days, nights and weekends throughout the entire year to support retention services for hundreds of students of color. Vickie regularly takes the initiative to not only outreach to students, but often communicates with families and community leaders because she understands the interplay of family, community and culture. She also serves as an Advisor to the Latinos Unidos Student Organization and advocates for and empowers Women of Color.
Vickie demonstrates sophisticated intercultural competence to adapt to unique needs of individuals, systems and programs that enhance diversity, campus climate and equity. UW Stout is stronger because of her leadership.
Gabriela Theis is a Multicultural Student Services Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Gabriela coordinates student leadership skills building programs such as the Leadership and Mentorship Program which focuses on the retention, academic, and social successes of new incoming students of color while working with current students who act in leadership roles as mentors for these new students. Gabriela co-coordinating several important programs, including: the campus Diversity Leadership Retreat that introduces current students from all backgrounds about diverse leadership; “Making College Accessible; ” a pre-college program for middle school students of color and their parents; and “Advancing Minorities in Science Scholars”which works with underrepresented minority/disadvantaged UW-Superior students majoring in science related fields and gives students an opportunity to conduct a research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor. She also co-coordinating the Diversity Dialogue series, which helps inform the campus and surrounding communities about racial/cultural/diversity issues. In all her roles she has built strong and respectful relationships with UW-Superior students, faculty and staff members
Off campus, Gabriela has been actively involved in organizations that build on leveling the education and leadership gap that is often found within communities of color. She was an integration specialist within the Duluth Public Schools and worked with 40 elementary students of color each year with tutoring services, organizing the Parents And Students Succeeding Program. She co-founded and is Executive Director to a non-profit organization called “The Metamorphosis Project.” This program was designed with the goal to close the achievement gap within the Duluth Public Schools by creating an afterschool program with a curriculum and activities that started out with a target group of elementary girls. The program now includes boys as well. Gabriela is also the Chair of the Adelante Parents Advisory Committee within the Duluth Public Schools, where she has also Spanish and as well as being a substitute teacher. A member of a selected cohort of the national Latino Leadership Academy: Eliminating Barriers to Opportunities, she represents and works towards the highest standard of community service within Minnesota’s Latino communities to empower Hispanic individuals into leadership roles and non-profits organizations that help build strong Latino communities
Gabriela holds a Master’s of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia College, a Bachelor of Applied Arts Degree in Spanish Education K – 12 from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from the Technological Institute in Culiacan, Mexico. She is currently seeking Ed.S. Degree-Principal Licensure program at Concordia College. Gabriela’s research has been published in a book published by SAGE entitled, “Diversity and Inclusion in Early Years Education: Issues, Perspectives and Practices from the International Experience.” Gabriela presents at conferences, workshops and in educational classrooms that focus on educational and racial/cultural competency and learning.
Gabriela Theis, we honor you.
Kang Her is a student in her junior year at UW-Superior, majoring in Social Work and minoring in Professional and Personal Communications. Kang is very is forthcoming about the cultural struggles she faced being a young college-aged Hmong woman. Traditionally, she should have been at home helping out with household duties; instead, she was pursuing her education at UW-Superior. While she continues her educational journey, Kang Her does maintain many facets of her Hmong culture such as helping out at home, staying home after the birth of her two children, maintaining the traditional diet after birth, and celebrating the various Hmong holidays.
In the fall of 2012, Kang Her was selected to be an Alternate in the McNair Scholars Program. In spring of 2013 Her officially became a McNair Scholar. Kang Her demonstrates leadership in the McNair Program. She has connected and became close with the other underrepresented students in the Program as well as with another underrepresented woman in her classes. Her has been a key participant in students encouraging each other throughout the program. She has been verbally and also non-verbally supportive of her classmate and the classmate’s educational and family goals and concerns for maintaining a cultural balance.
She has worked for the Office of Multicultural Affairs as an Office Assistant/Student Employees Lead in a student employment position for the past three years in a management role. Throughout her time on campus, Her has been integral to the coordination of four pre-college mentoring/recruitment programs called "College Student for a Day" throughout the year and has mentored visiting high school students in the program. When mentoring the high school-aged women, Ms. Her always brings them to the McNair office and shares her own story of balancing education and culture, assuring the high school students that they, too, can be successful as an undergraduate and should aim high to graduate school. She is currently fulfilling a First Nations Studies Special Topics internship.
Kang Her’s involvement in the Hmong community evidences that she is a true leader within the younger crowd. As a married mother of two, she delicately balances the traditional home life of a Hmong woman while pursuing an education. She has been a great asset to the recruitment and retention of students of color efforts for this campus as she has participated in countless student panels for campus visits organized through the Office of Multicultural Affairs, TRIO Programs, and Admissions. Kang is the past President of the Asian American Student Association and is active within the Hmong community in the Twin Ports and region.
She is also a student assistant in a work-study position within Student Support Services and has worked for a year with the Admissions Office as a Tour Guide.Kang Her is a recipient of the 2014 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. She will work with Dr. Lynn Amerman Goerdt in Social Work on research about students of color at UW-Superior and the effectiveness of Peer Mentoring Program.
Kang Her, we honor you.
Dr. Catherine Chan is an Associate Professor in Biological Sciences and Chemistry at UW-Whitewater. Also the director of the Undergraduate Research Program, she has personally mentored over 20 UWW students since 2005. Almost half of her mentees are women and within this group, almost 50% are women of color (with additional mentees as young men of color).
Catherine Chan has helped create a paid research assistantship program aimed at providing early disciplinary exposure and skills development for freshman and sophomore students, especially students of color. This program, apart from providing opportunities for experiential learning, also helps build camaraderie among program participants and sustain a culture of professional development and personal growth among young women of color. Partly due to her advocacy, the program has been institutionalized and she is working towards securing additional resources for further growth.
Catherine Chan is also currently involved in various initiatives (e.g., curricular reform, grant submissions to help establish support/intervention programs) designed to support freshman science students to reduce their attrition and improve their success. A substantial portion of these students are expected to be underrepresented minority students, including women of color. She is serving on the Inclusive Excellence Committee for the College of Letters and Sciences, where her colleagues and she are working to improve, promote and sustain a positive learning and working environment for all, including women of color.
Catherine Chan is well recognized nationwide for her outstanding research accomplishments. When seeking grant funding, she includes undergraduate students as part of the program whenever possible and she always makes special efforts to recruit students of opportunity, including women and women of color. She reaches out to others who can contribute to success of her mentees. These resources vary as widely as individual students, staff, faculty and key offices in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Student Success and individual Colleges.
She has received funding in the amount of $16,000 from the Provost, $60,000 from the Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program and $10,000 from the UW System Diversity Research Award, along with many other grants from various funding agencies, to recruit underrepresented students to conduct undergraduate research. She also has a number of publications with undergraduate co-authors.
Catherine Chan has created and sustained a positive learning environment for women, especially women of color on the UW-Whitewater campus where their potentials are nurtured and they are supported to thrive.
Catherine Chan, we honor you.