Students, staff and faculty on the Denver Campus were honored with Rosa Parks Diversity Awards at a luncheon today at St. Cajetans.
Taking its name from Rosa Parks, who is known as the first lady of the Civil Rights movement, the University of Colorado Denver Rosa Parks Diversity Committee recognizes individuals who have contributed to the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Scenes from today’s Rosa Parks Diversity Awards:
Event speakers included Raul Cardenas, PhD, associate vice chancellor for student affairs; Rachel Harding, PhD, assistant professor of indigenous spiritual traditions; and Omar Montgomery, MPA/MES, director of Black Student Services in the office of Educational Opportunity Programs.
“This is why we have this event — it’s to celebrate those who are building that bridge for our future leadership,” Montgomery told the 80 people in attendance.
This year’s student honorees were Keven Shaw, Anthony McCree, Beatriz Salazar, Elizabeth Kaplanek, Gordon Hamby, Kristen Fukumoto and Thomas Evans. Staff honorees were Leslie Taylor, administrative assistant, and Regina Rodriguez, academic advisor. Winning the faculty award for contributions toward diversity and inclusion was Charles Musiba, associate professor of biological anthropology. Musiba is on sabbatical in Africa, so his wife, Jill, accepted his award.
Montgomery said he especially wanted to highlight the students, who are the kinds of people who will work to help the disadvantaged. “This is why we celebrate. This is why we honor the staff and faculty who help them get to that point,” he said. “This is why we have speakers like Dr. Rachel Harding who breaks down the history (of Parks and other Civil Rights activists) and gives us even more to talk about once we get back to the office.”
Working toward social change often requires people to take a stand, like Parks did when in 1955 she refused to give up her bus seat to make room for a white passenger.
“I’m the one telling them to be loud because the conversations they’re having are about social change,” Montgomery said of the CU Denver student honorees. “It’s about when I grow up and finish my degree … I want to help people who don’t have documentation find a way to get a higher-education degree, or, if they’re trying to build on my people’s land I have to figure out how to get them out because of the richness of the tradition that’s there. Or, are we talking about economic change? How is it we can help those who are not as fortunate as us? Yes, it gets a little loud.”
The student honorees thanked faculty and staff mentors, as well as their parents, for keeping them on the path toward a higher-education degree.
(Photo: Award winners are pictured in the front row, from left, Keven Shaw and Beatriz Salazar, and in the back row, from left, Kristen Fukumoto, Anthony McCree, Leslie Taylor, Elizabeth Kaplanek, Thomas Evans, Regina Rodriguez, Gordon Hamby and Jill Musiba (accepting in place of her husband, Charles Musiba).