Three individuals, one group receive 2013 President's Distinguished Diversity Awards
Continuing the tradition begun in 2012, this year’s President’s Distinguished Diversity Awards were given to members of the UTSA community who have made substantial contributions to its diverse culture. Faculty member and administrator Ann Eisenberg, students Jenna Burns and Victoria Garrett, and a new initiative, the Women’s Professional Advancement and Synergy Academy, were recognized for their efforts in promoting diversity and inclusivity in the UTSA community.
The awards were presented April 9 at University Excellence Awards Ceremony.
Ann Eisenberg, professor of psychology, has served as the associate dean to the Honors College for nearly two decades. In that time, she has helped transform the relatively small honors program into the innovative, globally conscious entity it is today. Aspiring to evolve the program into an inclusive, multicultural learning community, Eisenberg took a holistic, individualized approach to recruiting students of diverse backgrounds and developed a curriculum that offered courses of study on diverse cultures and histories.
Eisenberg has directed five grant-funded programs that target promising students from under-represented backgrounds for graduate study and research careers. She serves on the Enrollment Management and the Top Scholars committees, and has been instrumental in the creation of numerous STEM programs in local San Antonio school districts.
Eisenberg is also a member of the Women’s History Month organizing committee and the Women’s Professional Advancement and Synergy Academy.
Jenna Burns is a student and peer educator for the Student Health Services office. Her outspoken position as an intersex, transgender woman has contributed to the growing awareness of the transgender and queer communities of UTSA.
In her position in Student Health Services, Burns created a GLBTQIA sensitivity training program and served on the clinic’s Cultural Committee, which emphasizes student/patient diversity. In the fall of 2012, she created a resource library for students regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, and queer and transgender topics.
Burns has served as an officer for the GLBTQ student organization for the past two years. Among her responsibilities as a campus leader and mentor, she established the lecture series Trans 101 and helped orchestrate community-based volunteer events with other GLBTQ organizations in San Antonio.
The second student recipient, Victoria Garrett, is a senior history major and chair of the Black Student Leadership Council (BSLC). She helped create the organization in 2008 when she and fellow peers noticed the absence of an adequate inclusion organization for African, African American and African Caribbean students at UTSA. The goal was to provide a support community for these students while remaining receptive to all interested.
One of the BSLC’s projects, which Garrett helped organize in 2009, was the Black Education Project. The project targeted San Antonio high school students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and promoted the benefits of attending college. The organization has now hosted two college days and has developed a mentorship program with Wagner High School in the Judson Independent School District.
Garret also wrote and directed the black history play, “Our Reigns, Reclaimed.” It was performed on the UTSA Main Campus in February 2012.
Women’s Professional Advancement and Synergy Academy
The award for the Women’s Professional Advancement and Synergy Academy was given to its leadership team of UTSA faculty and staff members Marietta de la Rosa, Ann Eisenberg, Marcheta Evans, Rhonda Gonzales, and Raquel Marquez, who created the leadership and development group in the summer of 2012.
The organization was designed to inspire and empower female faculty and staff of UTSA who aspire to leadership roles or positions in their respective careers. To accomplish this goal, they hosted a three-day summer academy where women of UTSA could network and build relationships across barriers. The panels and sessions addressed the anxieties and obstacles of female professionals and provided constructive approaches to develop as a leader and professional.
One of the paramount themes of WPASA, in addition to the development of women’s leadership skills, is the promotion of the diverse cultures and worldviews on campus.