Black Scholar Awards to be presented April 16

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KINGSTON, R.I. – April 12, 2007 – The University of Rhode Island’s 10th Annual Black Scholar awards program, “ Celebrating a Decade of Young, Gifted and Black” will feature D. Crystal Byndloss of Temple University as the keynote speaker.

As assistant dean for research and the associate director for the Center of Research and Human Development in Education, Byndloss serves as liaison to the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research and coordinator of the College’s efforts around youth programming. Her address will focus on how she negotiated academia and the world of research as an African-American woman.

Given annually, the awards were created to honor students of color for their outstanding contributions in leadership, community involvement, academic achievement, and athletic achievement.

After attending the President’s Awards for Student Excellence ceremony 14 years ago, Donald Cunnigen, associate professor in the URI Sociology Department, was amazed to see only one student of color receive an award.

“The black faculty here realized that students of color deserved to be acknowledged,” said Cunnigen. “Creating these awards was a way for us to let students of color know that going to a predominantly white school is not easy, but that the faculty wanted to recognize their hard work and accomplishments.”

With recruitment, retention, and development and support of the black students at URI in mind, the faculty also established a URI chapter of the Onyx Senior Honor Society, which recognizes black students with a 3.0 or better grade point average. Sixteen students will be inducted into the society this year.

The awards program and reception, to be held on Monday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom on the University’s Kingston Campus, will recognize the following outstanding black seniors who will graduate next month:

• Jenell B. Yates is the recipient of the William Gould Award. Yates, of Woonsocket, is a double major in political science and philosophy. Named for 1958 alumnus William Gould who was the first black to lead the National Labor Relations Board, the award is presented in recognition of outstanding achievement in the areas of organizational leadership, peer relationships, faculty-student relationships, general advice, and academic performance.

• Sharon L. Isom is the recipient of the Arthur L. Hardge Award. Isom, of Providence, is an African and African American Studies major. The award is named after the late Arthur Hardge, who was a force in Rhode Island’s black community affairs and co-founded the University’s Talent Development Program. The Talent Development Program has played an integral role in the growth of the University’s black community. The award recognizes outstanding service to the black community outside of the University.

• Chris Washington of Providence, a secondary education major, is the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award. This award recognizes outstanding service in the area of organizational leadership, volunteer service, and general service in the University community.

• Iziarh Roberts of Providence, recipient of the Harvey Robert Turner Award, is a civil engineering major. Named for 1914 alumnus Harvey Robert Turner, one of the earliest black graduates of the University, the award recognizes significant contributions made to the black community of the University through activities that demonstrated a commitment to the community’s growth and recognition of others.

• Kristie Correia of Pawtucket, recipient of the Sojourner Truth Award, is a general business administration major. The award recognizes success despite dire financial, physical and/or personal problems, which would ordinarily impede progress.

• Darrell Harris and Laejon Brooks are the recipients of the Jackie Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award. Harris, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Brooks, of New Jersey, are both sociology majors. The award is given in recognition of outstanding performance in sports, including good sportsmanship and the best qualities of the scholar-athlete.

• Frantz Medina, of Cambridge, Mass., is an African and African-American Studies major and will receive the Noreen Coachman Award. Named in memory of 1973 URI alumnus Noreen Coachman, the award honors an older graduating senior who has achieved excellence in academic and extracurricular life while maintaining family and work responsibilities.

• Lucelene Almeida of Providence is recipient of the Saint Elmo Brady Award. Named for St. Elmo Brady, who became the first person of African descent to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree in chemistry, the award honors a senior with the highest academic average in the sciences among black students.

• James Smart, Chris Washington, and Amber Wells, are the recipients of the Estes Benson Award. Smart of Exeter, is a communication studies major; Washington of Providence, is a secondary education major; and Wells of Coventry, is a Spanish and sociology double major. Named in memory of 1979 URI alumnus Estes Benson, the award honors male and female students with the highest overall academic grade point average among black seniors.

• Emily Bibb of Kingston, recipient of the David Edmonds Award, is a studio art major. Named after 1964 URI alumnus David Edmonds, the award is presented to a student who has demonstrated excellence as well as originality and creativity in the arts.

• Titilayo Fakiyesi, Ruth Laurent, and Jolene Octavius, all of Providence, are the recipients of the Lumas Hamilton Sr. Scholarship Award. The award was established by members of the Hamilton family to encourage and support students who have a serious interest in African and African-American Studies.

For more information, contact Dr. Donald Cunnigen, 874-4302.