KINGSTON, R.I. – May 29, 2018 – The University of Rhode Island presented five community members and two University organizations with Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Awards during ceremonies held recently on the Kingston Campus. A diverse planning committee, led by George Gallien, director of the Multicultural Student Services Center, selected individuals and groups whose contributions exemplify URI’s commitment to fostering a diverse and welcoming community.
Over the past 19 years, the Multicultural Student Services Center, which became part of the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity in 2011, has presented awards to those who have made contributions to the University community in support of diversity and inclusion on campus. This year’s award recipients are Noereem Mena of Providence, Graduate Student Excellence; Nicol Hernandez of East Greenwich, Undergraduate Student Community Excellence; Rachael Horrocks of Woodbury, Conn., Undergraduate Student Academic Excellence; Michelle Fontes-Barros of Warwick, Staff/Administrative Excellence; Amelia Moore of Providence, Faculty Excellence; DRIVE, Undergraduate Student Organization Excellence; Center for Student Leadership Development, College/Department/Unit Excellence.
“The 2018 Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award winners demonstrated extraordinary efforts toward enhancing diversity and a sense of belonging at URI. We honored their outstanding efforts and hope that others will emulate the winners’ commitment toward creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive University in which every individual feels empowered to work, learn and thrive,” said Naomi Thompson, associate vice president and chief diversity officer of the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity.
The award winners are listed below:
Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award for Graduate Student Excellence winner:
Graduate student, Noereem Mena, played a key role in helping to recruit and retain undergraduate Latina students to work in research labs on campus. As a first-generation Latina university student, Mena’s has advocated for other Latinas, and has provided support, guidance and encouragement. Also as board member at the Rhode Island Dietetic Association, Mena is an activist for reducing health disparities in Rhode Island.
Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award for Undergraduate Student Community Excellence winner:
Nicol Hernandez, a senior communicative disorders major, was honored for her work in bringing awareness to the issue of campus accessibility. From Hernandez’s presentations on the challenges that those living with disabilities face, to the interactive campus map she created that allows students to see which buildings are and are not accessible, Hernandez has consistently worked to improve the campus.
Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award for Undergraduate Student Academic Excellence winner:
URI nursing student, Rachael Horrocks ‘18, was honored for her work in the areas of gender inclusive housing. Horrocks’ role in advocating for gender inclusive and LGBTQ friendly housing has led to substantial improvements in the housing options and experiences students will have here on the URI campus.
Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award for Staff/Administrative Excellence winner:
Michelle Fontes-Barros, assistant director of Diverse Recruitment and Retention at the College of Environment and Life Sciences was honored for her tireless work in creating an inclusive and supportive community within CELS and the University. Fontes-Barros meets with students one-on-one; spearheaded the development of Seeds of Success, a student group dedicated to the success of students from diverse backgrounds; plays an active role in establishing relationships with Rhode Island high schools; and helps recruit graduate students from diverse backgrounds through outreach trips to conferences and collaborating institutions.
Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award for Faculty Excellence winner:
Amelia Moore, assistant professor in the College of Environment and Life Sciences, was honored for significant contributions to diversity and inclusion in the Marine Affairs Department, CELS, and the University. Although Moore has only been at URI for a few years, she has provided key insight to help revise the Marine Affairs Department’s mission statement, participated in the recruitment of a diverse faculty and student body, served on a number of committees that promote and highlight the work of underrepresented scholars and students, and has brought diversity into the classroom by focusing on intersectional issues of multiculturalism, de-colonialism, feminism, racism, socioeconomic inequality, and sexuality as they impact understanding of ocean and coastal topics.
Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award for Undergraduate Student Organization Excellence winner:
D.R.I.V.E (Diversifying Recruiting Inspiring Volunteering Educating) was awarded for its work to create a more inclusive and diverse student culture through programming, service, and peer mentorship. The Multicultural Overnight and Ram for a Day: College Initiative programs function as peer mentorship programs to educate, inspire, recruit and retain multicultural high school students to attend the University of Rhode Island. DRIVE students seek to create a pathway of access to higher education for high school students, and foster a community focused on inclusion for fellow URI students.
Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award College/Department/Unit Excellence winner:
The Center for Student Leadership Development was awarded for the unit’s dedication to providing the URI community numerous opportunities to become informed, inclusive, effective, and ethical leaders in the global marketplace through the implementation of learner-centered academic, experiential, and co-curricular programming such as the first-year leadership institute, the minor in leadership studies and strengths-based workshops.
Alexa Stewart, intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and Public Relations and Communication Studies Major, wrote this press release.