Diversity Banquet Shares Past, Present and Glimpse of Near Future

Diversity Banquet Shares Past, Present and Glimpse of Near Future

The United Front Multicultural Commons’ 14th annual Diversity Banquet on Wednesday night celebrated the past, honored the present and gave something special to those who, in the very near future, will be realizing a wonderful, personal milestone.

2019 UFMC Diversity Banquet

The banquet was a chance to recognize several University of San Diego Class of 2019 undergraduate and graduate students who were presented with UFMC graduation stoles and to honor some students with C.L.A.S.S. Awards. Current undergraduate students Leslie Martinez and Jesse Magana served as the night’s co-hosts and UFMC Director Mayte Perez-Franco welcomed the audience.

The banquet also featured USD alumni and current English Department Lecturer Mychal Odom, PhD, as the keynote speaker. His talk, “New Beginnings,” provided a historical context for the audience and included mentions of student organizations such as the Black Student Union, which Odom was part of during his student years, to help form the United Front Multicultural Center (now Commons). He also shared USD’s addition of Ethnic Studies program in the early 2000s based on the support and desire of students and other elements of USD’s past from a diversity point of view.

Following Odom’s talk, the C.L.A.S.S. Awards were given out. Here are the awards, winners and nominees:

The L. Reuben Mitchell Award for Campus-Wide Impact (Presented by Ramiro Frausto, director of USD McNair Scholars program): This award is for a student who has contributed to the University through their leadership, active involvement, and outstanding contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion across campus.

Undergraduate Student Winner: Patrick Joseph (P.J.) Murphy.

Graduate Student Winner: Breana Clark.

Student Nominees: Alyssa Gamatero, Breana Clark, Daniela Saldana Gurgol, Elena Gonzalez, Elisenda Guerra-Delgado, Gloria Sandoval, Imari Clement, Lauren Wong, Mandy Mekhail, Maureen Cobile, Natasha Salgado, Patrick “PJ” Murphy, Riley Lewis, Samantha O’Brien, Simon Truong, Vayunamu Bawa, Vijayraj Patel, Wendy Martinez and Vida Chechman. 

The Dr. Evelyn Kirkley Award for Leadership (Presented by Dr. Kirkley): This award is for a student who led an organization as a member of an executive board and through their leadership capacity led initiatives that contributed to the development of leadership in others.

Undergraduate Student Winner: Maureen Cobile.

Graduate Student Winner: Mandy Mekhail.

Student Nominees: Breana Clark, Elena Gonzalez, Gloria Sandoval, Imari Clement, Jessica Dockstador, Lauren Wong, Many Mekhail, Maureen Cobile, Natasha Salgado, Patrick “PJ” Murphy, Riley Lewis, Rodrigo Torres, Taylor Wong, Vayunamu Bawa, Vijayraj Patel, Wendy Martinez and Yuri Kwak. 

The Dr. Joseph Colombo Award for Academics (Presented by Dr. Channon Miller): This award is for a student who received a 3.5 and above grade point average in their field as well as participated in conferences where they presented their academic research focusing on diversity and/or social justice issues.

Undergraduate Student Winner: Elisenda Guerra-Delgado.

Graduate Student Winner: Lauren Wong.

Student Nominees: Elisenda Guerra-Delgado, Lauren Wong, Tin Tin Luu. 

The Dr. Judy Rauner Award for Social Justice (Presented by Maria Silva, Director of Neighborhood and Community Engaged Partnerships, the Mulvaney Center CASA): This award is for a student who led community service initiatives or other projects that addressed community issues. This student was instrumental in establishing partnerships and engaging students in social justice work.

Undergraduate Student Winner: Simon Truong.

Graduate Student Winner: Daniela Saldana Gurgol.

Student Nominees: Alejandra Perez, Brandon Orzolek, Breana Clark, Daniela Saldana Gurgol, Delia Contreras, Elena Gonzalez, Imari Clement, Jose Turrubiartez, Lauren Wong, Martel Serwenda, Natasha Salgado, Patrick “PJ” Murphy, Rodrigo Torres, Simon Truong, Sophie Thompson and Wendy Martinez. 

The Dr. Judith Liu Award for Service (Presented by Dr. Liu): This award is for a student who has actively engaged in the San Diego community by volunteering their time. Through their actions, they help to bridge the spaces that keep communities separated.

Student Winner: Kimberly Riveros.

Student Nominees: Elena Gonzalez, Daniela Saldana Gurgol, Delia Contreras, Gloria Sandoval, Imari Clement, Josefina Jaramillo, Kimberly Riveros, Martel Serwenda, Simon Truong and Wendy Martinez.

The United Front Multicultural Commons Award for Inspiration (Presented by Stacey Williams, Associate Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the Student Commons): This award is given to a C.L.A.S.S. Awards nominee who embodies the true spirit of the UFMC, striving for unity and a socially justice community. This person both mentors and inspires others to become leaders and helps to create change within the United Front and campus community.

Student Winner: Elena Gonzalez 

The night concluded with a graduation stole presentation, a group picture, and a closing spoken word performance called “Beginnings” by undergraduate student Davis Luanava, who called it a gift to all graduating students.

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