Written by Susan Hudson, University Gazette
Using the tagline “an inclusive blue begins with you,” Carolina’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion presented its 11th annual awards April 29 at the CURRENT Art Space on Franklin Street. Those honored came from a record number of nominations received this year.
“Diversity opens the doors to challenge our thinking,” said Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz in his remarks to a roomful of well-wishers. “Thank you for making Carolina a welcoming and supporting home for everyone here.”
The following received 2019 Diversity Awards:
- Undergraduate Award, Jermaine Bryant, senior majoring in classics. Bryant, also a Robertson Scholar, was recognized for his mentorship and critique of Latin and Greek narratives from a perspective different from most classical scholars.
- Graduate/Professional Award, Mariel Marshall, master’s student of clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling in allied health sciences. Marshall, chair of the campus branch of the NAACP, was called a “strong, quiet star” for her volunteer work at hospitals and for taking the initiative to take lunch and learn program leftovers from campus to local shelters.
- Alumni Award, Howard Lee, former mayor of Chapel Hill. Lee, a state senator for 13 years and director of the Department of Natural Resources under Gov. James Hunt, was honored for a “long history of advocacy and breaking color barriers.”
- Faculty Award (tie), Dr. Deb Aikat, associate professor, School of Media and Journalism, and Dr. Evan Ashkin, professor, School of Medicine. Aikat, a native of India who became a U.S. citizen in 2003, was nominated for facilitating “important conversations surrounding Silent Sam.” Ashkin, a family physician, directs the Formerly Incarcerated Transition, which helps former inmates with healthcare and resources to integrate back into society.
- Staff Award, O.J. McGhee, manager of instructional media services, Gillings School of Global Public Health. In 2015, McGhee became chair of the Carolina Black Caucus which advocates for black faculty and staff.
- Intergroup Collaboration Award, Maria Erb and Kathy Wood, co-directors of The Graduate School’s Diversity and Student Success Program. The program has implemented several initiatives, including Carolina Grad Student F1RSTS, Global Grads, Initiative for Minority Excellence, Military-Affiliated Grads and Queer Graduate and Professional Students.
Performances by two student groups, UNC Wordsmiths and UNC Cadence, bookended the awards presentation.