University Gala Commends Advocates for Campus Diversity

Jack Mackenroth

Jack Mackenroth will host the Sixth Annual Diversity Awards Ceremony & Soirée.

UT Dallas will honor students, faculty, staff and community partners for their contributions to promoting diversity on campus at the Sixth Annual Diversity Awards Ceremony & Soirée on Thursday.

The ceremony will be hosted by Jack Mackenroth, HIV/AIDS activist, athlete and Project Runway competitor, and will feature multicultural performances and a reception with food from various parts of the world. It will begin at 4 p.m. in the Alexander Clark Center. The event is open to the public. Admission is free for students, staff and faculty who RSVP here. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.

“Our Diversity Awards recipients have made extraordinary contributions to embrace, enhance and celebrate diversity on campus,” said Dr. George Fair, vice president for diversity and community engagement and dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. “We are grateful for their dedication to creating a welcoming climate at UT Dallas, which has been ranked as having one of the nation’s most ethnically diverse student populations.”

The annual event is presented by the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement. This year’s theme is “Diversity, Inclusion and Excellence: Inspiration for the Future.”

The ceremony will include a welcome address by President David E. Daniel and student performances, including the South Asian a cappella ensemble Dhunki, Slam Poetry competition winners, dancers from the Bangladeshi Student Organization and Comet Jazz. In addition, the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display.

2015 Diversity Awards Recipients

Student Diversity
Nicolas Hernandez, political science senior

Student Organization Diversity
Kappa Delta Chi Sorority Inc.

Community Champion of Diversity
Jay Forte, Community Diversity Advisory Council

Corporate Diversity
BlueCross BlueShield of Texas

Staff Diversity
Melissa Palmer, program manager, Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Inclusive Excellence and Intercultural Engagement Teaching
Dr. Charles Hatfield, associate professor of literature

The event benefits the University’s Diversity Retention Scholarship Program, which was created to offer scholarships to a diverse group of students who are in the later years of their undergraduate education. For many students, this scholarship helps defray a number of costs that would otherwise make it especially challenging for students to continue their education and obtain their degrees.

Attendees will hear a student testimonial from Anna Morales, a molecular biology student and recipient of the scholarship. One year from graduation, Morales already has a long list of accomplishments at UT Dallas. She works in the lab of Dr. Jonathan E. Ploski in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, has served as a biology lab teaching assistant, and co-authored autism research that has been published in a scientific journal.

Morales, originally from Houston, said the scholarship has helped her thrive at UT Dallas.

“I wrote in my application that I wanted to go to a school where the athlete is a chess master and the geek is a rock star,” Morales said. “I needed to take an extra course and didn’t have the funds. This scholarship helped me focus on my studies and allowed me to continue working in the lab. Because of the time spent there, I was able work on research and eventually be co-author of a published journal article.”

Joaquin Zihuatanejo, a poet, spoken word artist and teacher, will present the winners of the Diversity Poetry Competition. First-place winners are Danielle Edmonds and Aeon Robitaille; second-place recipients are Reema Patel and Carolyn Nguyen; and third place goes to Veronica Rodriguez, Dennis Kovalev and Jacob Mandel.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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