A celebration for diversity

Bryan Wroten

Faculty, community members, East Liverpool campus awarded

President Carol Cartwright presents Margret Wong with the President’s Social Responsibility Award at Saturday’s Diversity Awards ceremony. GAVIN JACKSON | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Kent State’s Celebration of Diversity and Awards Program Saturday honored those whose efforts best furthered diversity in the community.

The university gave awards to faculty, a member of the professional community and a regional campus.

“The awards allow us to celebrate the accomplishments of those who have contributed significantly to the diversity here at Kent State,” said Steve Michael, vice provost of diversity and academic initiative and host of the event. “It recognizes their efforts and motivates other people to do likewise.”

Senior magazine journalism major Tara Pringle and senior nursing major Candace Wood introduced the recipients of the awards.

Chris McVay and Linda Piccirillo-Smith, Pan-African Studies and English lecturers, received the Diversity Leadership Awards for Teaching/Research.

Attorney Margaret Wong received the Presidential Social Responsibility Award. Dean of regional campuses Jeff Nolte accepted the Diversity Leadership Award for an Academic or Service Unit on behalf of the East Liverpool campus.

Pringle said their efforts in the computer lab and “help center” in Oscar Ritchie Hall have helped many students with their writing assignments. She said Piccirillo-Smith’s real title there is “campus mom” for her continued help to students. McVay’s efforts in restoring the oldest black cemetery in Memphis, Tenn., is a service-learning opportunity and history lesson all in one, she said.

“I was really surprised,” Piccirillo-Smith said. “At first I felt undeserving. Then one of the people I work with told me something I won’t ever forget: ‘Don’t diminish the significance of the award by saying that you didn’t deserve it.'”

Wong, a Cleveland-based lawyer who specializes in immigration and naturalization law, said she felt humbled by receiving the award. She said despite all her successes, such as first Asian-American president of the Cleveland Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, she doesn’t let them get to her head. The diversity award made her feel like Cinderella, she said.

“I’m always worried I’m a nobody,” she said.

The accomplishments of her generation help pave the way for the future, she said. They had a hard time breaking through the glass ceiling without mentors, she said. The next generation should be awesome, she said. And, she said, she’s already a mentor.

The event had music provided by 1959, a local rhythm and blues band with Kent State students, Ni Miasha Kamili, an Akron-based African drum group, and Michael’s son, Kesi Michael, on saxophone.

The competition for the awards is always keen, Michael said. It takes a whole semester for awards’ committee to decide. Because of how long it takes, Michael said they will looking for next year’s winners immediately.

Contact minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected]