University to Celebrate Champions of Diversity

National Society of Black Engineers pose with their group flag

The 2018 Diversity Awards honorees include the UT Dallas chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.

Alireza Nourani-Dargiri changed his major to political science after he decided to pursue a career path that will allow him to work toward greater inclusion and tolerance.

“I plan to go to a law school that has an emphasis on international law, as I wish to make a meaningful impact on the relations of different countries around the world,” he said.

Nourani-Dargiri is one of several student, faculty, staff and community leaders who will be honored for their commitment to diversity and inclusion at the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement’s ninth annual Diversity Awards Ceremony and Soirée.

The ceremony will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19, in the Davidson-Gundy Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The celebration will feature performances by singer and actress Rachel Dupard, the Bangladesh Student Organization Dancers, Dancing 4 My Life Dance Company, Mariachi Caporales Dallas and the Jazz Engineers from Texas Instruments. WFAA-TV news anchor Alisha Laventure will be the master of ceremonies for the event. Winners of the Diversity Slam Poetry Competition will perform. The event also will feature food from various cultures.

“We’re excited to honor the contributions of some extraordinary students, faculty, staff and community partners who have helped advance the UT Dallas commitment to embrace, enhance and celebrate diversity at all levels of the University and our community,” said Dr. George Fair, vice president for diversity and community engagement and dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies.

A graduate of Plano West High School, Nourani-Dargiri participates in many student groups and serves on the Student Diversity Advisory Council. He also is recruitment chair of Crush Crew, vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, captain of the men’s cross country team, involved in Comet Camp and Road Warriors, and serves as a mentor for the Freshman Mentor Program. Nourani-Dargiri said that the University influenced his passion for diversity issues.

“It is one of the greatest honors in my life to be selected for this award,” said Nourani-Dargiri, who plans to graduate in May 2019.

The event benefits the Diversity Scholarship Program, which was created in 2010 to increase the diversity of students at UT Dallas.

In 2007, the University established the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement to provide leadership for diversity initiatives. It oversees a range of programs to promote diversity, including the Galerstein Gender Center, the Multicultural Center and the Department of Community Engagement. UT Dallas has one of the top 25 most ethnically diverse undergraduate populations in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.

2018 Diversity Awards Recipients


Student Diversity AwardAlireza Nourani-Dargiri, political science junior


Staff Diversity AwardBarbara Boyd, advisor, Enrollment Services


Inclusive Excellence and Intercultural Engagement Teaching AwardDr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, Leah and Paul Lewis Chair of Holocaust Studies, School of Arts and Humanities

Student OrganizationDiversity AwardThe National Society of Black Engineers

Community Championof Diversity AwardDr. Raj J. Seekri, Richland College

Corporate Diversity AwardFluor Corp.

Diversity Slam Poetry Competition Winners

1st Place: Danny Dunn, sophomore, psychology

2nd Place: Kenneth Huynh, senior, arts and technology

3rd Place: Abigail Hrbacek, junior, arts and technology

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