UVU announces Champions of Inclusion Award winners

Reading Time: 2 minutes

UVU has announced the winners of the 2020 Champion of Inclusion awards, which recognizes the efforts of students and staff in promoting diversity within their work and communities.

The award has four recipients each year, who are nominated by staff members, students and faculty. There is also an award given for a department that embodies inclusion in their practices. 

The staff recipient this year is Noemy Medina, Director of First-Year Experience and Student Retention. Through her efforts, UVU has become a more welcoming place for students from all walks of life, including those with differing documentation statuses.

Inclusivity is one of the key missions of the Student Retention office. As part of their mission statement they, “seek to be mindful of providing services to students that ensure support for their unique needs.” 

The student recipient is Cristell Marcial, a 2020 graduate who served as a student success specialist. While working to earn her degree in social work, she served roughly 200 students per week helping them to achieve their goals. 

Using her fluency in both Spanish and English, Cristell – according to the award recommendation – actively worked to make the invisible visible. Through her work in student success, she was able to give students the confidence to complete their degrees.

Her colleagues said that Cristell, “is a strong role model for students, and she is the perfect Student Champion of Inclusion at UVU.”

The faculty award recipient is Leandra Hernandez, Ph.D, assistant professor in the communication department. While going to school in Houston, Texas, she was exposed early to cross-cultural teaching, something that she has made a point to include in the classes she teaches at UVU. 

“If I was going to go into academia, I always wanted to stress the intercultural angle, but not just in terms of race and ethnicity, also in terms of sexuality and gender identity and everything else,” said Hernandez. 

Not only is the recognition important to Hernandez, but it also shows that students are interested in inclusivity. This helps the university move toward their mission of diversity and inclusion, she said.

The department champion award is being given to University College. Through its diversity initiatives, the department works to provide “a place and a path” for every student that comes through the university.

Through inclusive hiring practices, 30% of department faculty are now people of color. The college has also been in charge of disbursing scholarships, 90% of which went to students who self-identified as needing financial assistance.

Due to University College’s strategic planning, they have saved students nearly $250 thousand on textbook costs in 2020 alone.