May 022006
 
Authors: Marissa HuttonGavel The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Seniors, their families and friends had a chance to reflect on this year and celebrate their many accomplishments as minority students at CSU.

The Office of Black Student Services (BSS) and El Centro held award ceremonies last weekend to honor graduates and other outstanding students in their respective cultures.

El Centro’s “Diversity Among Latino Culture” banquet on Friday was a chance for community members and CSU students and faculty to celebrate diversity in Fort Collins, as well as the achievements of the Latino population on campus.

“The awards program is an opportunity for youth of the future to know what students graduating in the class of 2006 will encourage them to continue to stay in school,” said Guadalupe Salazar, director for El Centro in a press release.

Salazar and Rich Salas, assistant director of El Centro, honored each senior with a personalized medal while Marc Shkolnick, director of the Alumni Relations Office, presented students with an alumni pin and gift.

“Overall the event went well with over 400 people in attendance,” Salas wrote in an e-mail.

The theme for Saturday’s 22nd annual BSS awards ceremony was “In the Pursuit of Excellence,” and in the pursuit of celebration, the student advocacy office honored everyone from outstanding students to seniors to faculty and staff.

The more than four-hour ceremony began with an address from director Jennifer Williams Molock that described parents, family and friends as the foundation of students’ achievements.

“You are standing on the shoulders of others,” Molock said to the more than 100 May, August and December graduates.

Among presenters and speakers was senior and ASCSU President-elect Jason Green, who received a standing ovation as he took the podium to address the crowd.

Green thanked his peers for their support and for their votes and assured them that “after a week of getting up at 6:15 a.m.” for training, he was ready to take on his position and make CSU a more inclusive campus.

The first awards of the evening were for academic excellence among the Black population. Students with a 3.0 or greater GPA were presented with a medal. Each of the award recipients were nominated by their peers with the winners narrowed down by BSS members.

Freshman Angelica Riley, sophomore Valerie Scott, junior Ezra Aldern and senior Jessica McDavid also received medals for the highest GPA in their respective grade levels. Scott and McDavid tied for the highest GPA among all black students at CSU.

Before presenting the next awards, Molock reminded the audience to incorporate the day’s events into their collective memories and ideas about black culture.

“Capture this image,” she said, as she noted that the accomplishments of young black people are all too often forgotten or overlooked for the stereotypical, more widely accepted views of many.

After the National Panhellenic Council recognized fraternities and sororities, there was a mock graduation for undergraduate and graduate students. The ceremonial graduation was complete with the graduates donning a cap and gown, along with Molock, Linda Kuk, vice president for Student Affairs and Alan Lamborn, vice provost for Undergraduate Studies. The three presented each graduate with Kente Stoles, traditional ceremonial cloths worn around the shoulders like a scarf.

Molock read each student’s name, major, plans for the future and other acknowledgements.

In the midst of clapping and flash bulbs, a moment of silence for slain CSU graduates Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe, brought a somber reminder of the past. Paul Thayer, from the Center for Advising and Achievement, spoke a few words about his time with the couple as their picture was projected on two large screens on either side of the room.

The ceremony continued with awards for Lory Student Center staff members and a musical performance by graduate student George Jackson. Jackson sang a song entitled, “We Will Stand,” which he chose especially for the event.

“We’re all different, but we all end up in the same place,” Jackson said of the song’s message. “I thought it would be really fitting for that event.”

Alumnus Joseph Rogers was also honored with the Pillar of Excellence award for his extensive work within the black community.

Beginning a new tradition, United Men of Color was presented with the Campus of Character Award. The same award was also presented to junior Reyna Anaya at the El Centro awards. According to the ceremony program, the award is given to “individuals and organizations committed to a life long journey of demonstrating high standards in their actions.”

Black Student Alliance and advisers to BSS were also honored along with senior Nnamdi Ohaeri and junior Janay DeLoach who received the Bill Green Outstanding Athlete Award.

Other namesake awards presented included the Paul Chambers Excellence in Leadership Scholarship, which was awarded to junior Barry Logan. Along with the $1,500scholarship, Logan also won the Vivian Kerr Outstanding Student Award as well as being honored for his work with BSS.

Blanche Hughes, previous director of BSS, was the special guest, presenting several of the awards and being recognized herself with a commemorative slideshow of her time as the third director of BSS from 1985 to 1998.

Hughes spoke of her time as director and gave the students advice for the future. The ceremony concluded with another slide show entitled “Our Year in Review.”

“You can fill your pockets with money,” Hughes said. “But if you fill your soul by working passionately you will have this forever.”

Marissa Hutton-Gavel can be reached at campus@collegian.com

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