Graduate dean’s award reception honors recipients’ contribution to diversity


Kate McAnulty, Ph.D. of Graduate Studies, reads the names of Graduate Dean’s Awards recipients clapped during Cartright Hall’s reception on Sept. 26. Photo by Jacob Byk.

Bruce Walton

The Division of Graduate Studies honored the Graduate Dean’s Award recipients for Fall 2012 and Fall 2013 at the second annual Graduate Dean’s Award reception in Cartwright Hall on Thursday.

Graduate Studies chose the faculty-nominated graduate students who contribute to diversity in their fields and began their program in the fall.

“We define underrepresentation very broadly,” Graduate Studies Dean Mary Ann Stevens said. “And it’s defined in terms relative to their discipline. So it’s being underrepresented to their discipline they’re pursuing.”

According to the Division of Graduate Studies’ website, the GDA promotes diversity of views, experiences and ideas in the pursuit of research, scholarship and creative excellence within graduate education at Kent State.

The students receive $5,000 in addition to their full-time graduate assistantship stipend, which is available for two years while they study at Kent State. For the first time, last year’s recipients, who were the first to receive the award, met with this year’s recipients to help one another.

“I’m really excited about the new class,” said Ashleigh Stepp, a 2012 GDA recipient and geology graduate student. “It was the end of last year, and we were learning about all the new people that were coming, and they were telling us who got accepted so far. And it was really exciting because we had a really small group, and we’d have little intimate meetings, but then we knew that there was going to be a lot more of us and more social events like this instead of, like, intimate luncheons and stuff.”

Graduate Studies hosted some social gatherings with the 2012 recipients, but with more recipients welcomed every year, Stephens said they hope to organize more of an effect for diversity in graduate studies field.

Vivian Walker, a 2013 award recipient and architecture graduate student, was shocked and honored when she received the award and the $5,000.

“It was definitely a financial thing,” Walker said. “Like how am I going to pay for school? How am I going to pay for the next step? And the stipend helped me have the opportunity to be a (graduate assistant). It was just incredible. I didn’t even think it was in the realm of possibility.”

Walker also knew the adversity she had to face as a black woman in architecture, “given that only 1.5 percent of architects are African-American,” according to Walker’s biography.

“The opportunity (for the award) I would venture to say for (intellectuals) in the African-American community, in the underrepresented community, is amazing because it’s so far spread and you never get the opportunity and I’ve been the only one for a long time,” Walker said.

The Division of Graduate Studies plans to have the recipients meet throughout the year to check on their progress.

Contact Bruce Walton at [email protected].