One of the highlights of the annual diversity banquet, hosted by USD’s United Front Multicultural Center, is the end-of-the night group photo. The eighth annual event, held May 1, was a chance for all of the graduating seniors to squeeze together at the front of the UC Forum room. As they stood side-by-side and arm-in-arm with their UFMC graduation stoles around their neck, they grinned for multiple cameras.
While the cameras flashed, there was an inescapable sense of finality, but there was something else present: the promise of a beautiful future.
Esteban del Río, associate professor of Communications Studies, associate provost for inclusion and diversity and director of the Center for Inclusion and Diversity, was the event’s keynote speaker. He began by speaking about the concept of diversity. But more importantly, he spoke of how diversity and USD are irrevocably connected. He commented upon the importance of “recasting the idea of diversity and recasting our mission statement.”
“We are all God’s creation and deserve love and respect,” del Rio continued. “It is our responsibility to be thoughtful, inclusive and loving to every member of this campus.”
After dinner, the program pushed forward with the presentation of awards. Out of 28 outstanding nominees, seven students were recognized as recipients of a prestigious UFMC C.L.A.S.S. Award.
Sharae Bey, the former president of USD’s PRIDE club and current president of USD’s multicultural sorority Sigma Theta Psi, was awarded the L. Reuben Mitchell Award for Campus-wide Impact.
The Dr. Evelyn Kirkley Award for Leadership had two outstanding recipients, seniors Yasamin Shoriz (pictured, left) and Romyn Sabatchi (pictured, right).
“I was so surprised to receive it as all of the nominees are great,” Shoriz said. “Receiving the award was like receiving a ‘thank you’ for all the time and energy I devoted to the numerous student organizations that I’m passionate about. My leadership development is an ongoing process and to be recognized is an honor, and to know that I’ve inspired others in their leadership makes the whole experience worthwhile.”
The Dr. Joseph Colombo Award for Academics was awarded to Kelsey Perry, a graduating sociology major with minors in anthropology and peace studies. She’s an experienced researcher and is a soon-to-be an educator for Teach for America in San Antonio, Texas.
Danielle Chung, an Ethnic Studies major and USD site coordinator for the American Indian Recruitment Tutorial Program, was the recipient of the Dr. Judith Liu Award for Service.
Lastly, the United Front Multicultural Center Award for Inspiration went to Ophelia Augustine.
The evening was bursting with inspiration and accomplishment. Each student present was a role model and leader in their own right. But perhaps the most encouraging and touching part was the support they had for one another and their individual modesty.
“Being honored with this award represents the hard work and pride that goes into everything that I do,” Sabatchi said. “It truly shows that hard work pays off. But, of course, no one is an island. This honor was made possible by my family, friends, youth group coordinator, Rotaract, FUSO, AS and the UFMC.”
— Taylor Milam ‘15