Diversity Trailblazers Honored at Chancellor’s Creating Community Awards

Outstanding Staff Award

Chancellor Woodson and Interim Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Sheri Schwab introduced this year’s program at the annual Chancellor’s Creating Community Awards in the Piedmont-Mountains Ballroom of Talley Student Union on Thursday, April 26, 2018, affirming NC State’s strong commitment to the principles and work of diversity, equity and inclusion at NC State.

The Chancellor’s Creating Community Awards reviews nominations from all over NC State for the most outstanding faculty member, staff member, student, student organization and college or division for contributions over the past year in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. We congratulate this year’s winners, who each received a monetary award in the form of a cash award and/or discretionary funds for their departments.

Outstanding Faculty Award


  • Outstanding Faculty AwardJackie Bruce, Agricultural and Human Services
  • Helen Burgess, English
  • Maria Gallardo-Williams, Chemistry
  • Joy Gayles, Educational Leadership Policy and Human Development
  • Kathy Gore, Parks, Recreations and Tourism Management
  • Mary Haskett, Psychology
  • Elizabeth Nelson, Communication
  • Shweta Trivedi, Animal Science

Dr. Mary Haskett received the Outstanding Faculty Award. From her nomination:

“In less than a year, Dr. Haskett has mobilized the university and larger community to address food and housing insecurity experienced by NC State students. Under-resourced students are invisible. With the pervasive discrimination on campus and in the community, these students do not feel safe bringing attention to the fact they do not have enough to be successful at NC State. But Dr. Haskett is acknowledging them and honoring their experiences.

“Dr. Haskett created and implemented a campus-wide food and housing security survey sent to 7,000 NC State students. This kind of survey is the first of its kind at NC State. Twenty-five percent of these students completed the survey, which is a good response rate. As an active mentor to undergraduate students, Dr. Haskett hired two under-resourced students via the Provost’s Professional Experience Program funds. She has worked to engage national, state, local and campus agencies to get more food and acceptable housing for students. For example, the National Center for Homeless Education is working to ensure NC State students access their services, scholarships and other resources. A local transitional housing organization is working to offer low-cost housing to housing insecure NC State students.

“She mobilized campus departments, administration and stakeholders to engage in the complexity of hunger and homelessness at ‘Community Conversation: Student Food and Housing Security event for Diversity Education Week.’ Dr. Haskett is fully dedicated to ensuring no student at NC experiences food and housing insecurity as no other faculty has previously. With the trifecta of research, engaging constituents and service, Dr. Haskett is leading NC State to be a national example of how a campus not only ensures every student has access to human basic needs, but has access to all of the resources to Think and Do.”
Maria Gallardo-Williams received an honorable mention in this category. From her nomination:

“Maria is a founder and leader for the Foundations in Teaching (FIT) program in the Chemistry department. The FIT program offers opportunities for graduate students to learn basic skills in lesson planning, course organization, active learning techniques and assessment strategies related to effective teaching. This program benefits our graduates by allowing them to receive recognition for their teaching efforts, and it benefits our undergraduate student population by improving the quality of the teaching offered in our labs and problem sessions. The FIT program has created fair and specific criteria that all TA’s have to follow, which has resulted in the development of gender equity patterns in awards and recognition in our department.

“As the director of organic chemistry labs, Maria has transformed the organic lab experience through the use of open-access student-generated videos. Students can easily access these videos at any time with their smart devices using the e-lab manual or QR codes for on-demand viewing. She is currently working with Delta on the development of a distance education version of the organic chemistry labs using virtual reality. The objective of this program is to make organic labs accessible to students with permanent or temporal disabilities who would otherwise not be able to attend. For example, students with visual or mobility impairments, pregnant students or students who suffer with anxiety in social situations can use these virtual reality experiences to complete their labs in a safe environment with the same pedagogical rigor as a regular lab.”

Outstanding Staff Award


  • Erin Banks, College of Sciences
  • Valerie Batta, Foreign Languages and Literature
  • Rachel Dodd, Student Involvement
  • Shannon DuPree, University Recreation
  • Melissa Green, Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service
  • Wyona Goodwin, Disability Resource Office
  • Curtis Jackson, University Housing
  • Rachel Kasten, Center for Geospatial Analytics
  • Claudia Kearney, Center for Family and Community Engagement
  • Justin Richardson, Office of Admissions
  • Tsharre Sanders, Office of Admissions
  • Sarah Wright, TRIO Programs

Melissa Green received the Outstanding Staff Award. From her nomination:

“Melissa comes to work every day with the mentality of fostering an environment that is inclusive for all students. She has created a culture within CSLEPS that has allowed students who have never envisioned themselves, or people who mirror themselves, as leaders in our society today. Be it through creating additional programming for students of color, or aiming to widen the spectrum of leadership opportunities we have in place for students, Melissa is committed to consistent improvement.

“Through her individual and team meetings, her presence and approach allow for openness and honesty to flow through even the toughest of conversations. Outside of CSLEPS, Melissa has made an effort to continue to pour into communities and advocate for students who may not have anyone advocating for them to begin with. In describing Melissa, I would say she is a challenger. She challenges the status quo and urges us to consider diversity, equity and inclusion issues in our simplest of conversations. Simply put, Melissa is a severely underrated social justice rockstar. She has been a force not only within CSLEPS, but within the Division of Academic and Student Affairs and the NC State Community.”
Sarah Wright received an honorable mention in this category. From her nomination:

“Sarah Wright is a staff member in TRiO, providing academic, career, financial and personal support to low-income first-generation students. Although that is her primary role, Sarah’s influence in creating community extends beyond TRiO. Students who struggle to meet basic needs can feel marginalized and out of sync with the student body as they work long hours and forego traditional campus life. Sarah is a champion of these underrepresented students and takes initiative to form community among all students who might otherwise feel isolated. This year, I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with some of her students who rave about the compassionate guidance she provides. She connects them to each other – and to the wider university community – through several mechanisms. First, Sarah is an assertive advocate for students. She promotes to departments to hire low-income first-generation students, as these students may not have the extensive resume other students.

“She also advocates for college students by working closely with departments, educating them about ways in which their services, policies and practices can best be used to ensure college graduation for diverse populations. This year she created the Beyond the Belltower podcast, empowering students by helping them share their stories of struggle and success. These student voices inspire other TRiO students and the campus at large.”

Outstanding Student AwardOutstanding Student Award


  • Leah Block
  • Nury Castro
  • Riki Dows
  • Shaquilla Hamlett
  • Courtenay Klauber
  • Miriam Roochvarg
  • Bria Edwards Swann
  • Matthew Wright

Miriam Roochvarg received the Outstanding Student Award. From her nomination:

“Miriam has made a significant contribution to interfaith efforts at NC State during her tenure as an undergraduate. While we use a few terms to describe this work (interfaith, worldview diversity, interbelief, etc.), it’s often very unclear to people the importance of creating a cooperative and supportive environment for students of diverse faith traditions or non-faith beliefs on this campus.

“During her time as an undergraduate, Miriam has applied her communications degree to this mission on campus. Miriam worked closely with Dr. Janice Odom to coordinate bringing Rebecca Russo, a leader at the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, to campus, and that event helped to generate a lot of attention and consideration of the topic of the interfaith climate on our campus. In addition, she was instrumental toward the establishment of interfaith prayer/meditation spaces across campus. She has engaged in meaningful conversations with the chancellor, provost and others about the importance of addressing religious diversity on campus.

“She started the student organization “Better Together,” which has made positive strides toward uniting faith groups on campus for the common good. Recently, Miriam and two other undergraduate students received a grant to study the current state of interfaith relations on campus at NC State, and how interfaith efforts might be enhanced in the future. Miriam recruited members of Hillel, the Buddhist Meditation Society, the Muslim Student Association and the Freethinkers group to serve together at Shack-a-thon. It was a beneficial experience for all. In addition, Miriam’s participation and leadership was critical toward the success of an interfaith leadership retreat that was attended by NC State students representing different faith and non-faith backgrounds in Spring 2018. Miriam is seen by people across campus as a leader in interfaith initiatives on campus.”
Shaquilla Hamlett received an honorable mention in this category. From her nomination:

“Shaquilla Hamlett has spent her undergraduate career contributing to the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion at NC State University. Shaquilla was one of the key contributors to the establishment of a peer mentor program within TRIO Student Support Services, a much-needed component for the support of our diverse incoming freshmen and transfer students. She has served as the program’s chair and co-founding president since its inception. The program is in its third year and has supported over 50 diverse first-generation and financially under-resourced students in their transition to the university. This past year, Shaquilla played an integral part in developing peer mentor programs for incoming mentees during Welcome Week to address the needs of students coming from financially under-resourced and first-generation backgrounds. The Hidden Rules of NC State was one of the programs that resulted from her efforts and addressed the knowledge of academia that many TRIO-eligible students are unaware of and do not have the privilege of learning through others in their family that may have attended college. This program was a huge success in providing an inclusive and welcoming space for TRIO-eligible students as they navigated through the beginning of their college journey. Shaquilla has also worked to break down barriers for students from financially under-resourced and/or underrepresented backgrounds at the college and pre-college levels.”

Outstanding College or Division


  • Center for Environmental Farming
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences received the Outstanding College or Division Award. From their nomination:

“In September and October 2016, some pivotal events took place at NC State: a peaceful students’ protest and die-in; racist and offensive comments from students displayed on social media; Student Government held a ‘Town Hall on Racial Climate.’ Chancellor Woodson issued a campus message; he asked OIED and BIRT to review the social media incident and make suggestions about how the university can improve our response to such situations. He noted that at the town hall we heard loud and clear that racism and campus climate are not issues that should fall solely on students to fix. Following these incidents and the chancellor’s response, Dean Jeff Braden decided that CHASS must be intentionally proactive in addressing these issues as they pattern to the well-being of our faculty, staff and students.

“First, on November 15, CHASS held a conversation about the college’s racial climate, during which many students expressed their frustration at not being able to discuss recent events in the classroom either out of fear or because faculty couldn’t or avoided engaging the matter. As a result, Dean Braden tasked the college’s Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) with coming up with recommendations for Diversity and Inclusive Classroom Strategies. Second, on November 17 and in the context of Diversity Education Week, Dr. Karen Bullock was invited to give a college-wide lecture titled, ‘Teaching about Diversity: Fostering Inclusive Classrooms and Campus Climate’ that was heavily attended by faculty, staff and students. Third, a Professional Development and Advancement Workshop followed this on November 17 for SHRA and EHRA non-faculty employees with presentations by Stephanie Davis (HR), Beverly Williams (OIED), Shannon Boatwright (HR) and Betty Byrum (CHASS). On September 9, 2017 CHASS held another diversity town hall, followed on December 6, 2017 with a staff workshop on Promoting a Positive Work Environment with presentations by Stephanie Davis on ‘Generations at Work’ and Renee Wells on ‘Microaggressions in the Workplace.’

“The college’s Diversity Advisory Council submitted a list of recommendations in January 2017. The dean shared them with his leadership team, asking each department to discuss the recommendations and select three to which the department will be held accountable and on which the head must report in their annual evaluation. Here are two examples of specific strategies adopted by departments. History faculty agreed to: have all tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty attend two workshops, ‘Fostering Inclusivity in the Classroom’ and ‘Recognizing and Responding to Microaggressions’; have all faculty take the Implicit Bias Test; and revise their exit interview questions for graduating history majors to include queries about diversity and inclusive classrooms. English faculty agreed to: individually take the Implicit Bias test; collectively conduct a ‘syllabus challenge’ workshop; and programmatically adopt the following question on course evaluations: ‘Issues related to diversity and equity (e.g., race/ethnicity, SES, disability status, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, etc.) were integrated into course content.’

“CHASS extends its efforts at addressing and transforming the campus climate outside CHASS by continuing to bring renowned scholars/leaders to give our university-wide diversity lectures. Dr. Sylvester Jim Gates, Jr. on ‘Equity vs. Excellence: A False Dichotomy in Science and Society’ (2017) and Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy on ‘There’s is a Xenophobe Among Us: Diversity and Inclusivity on College Campuses” (2018).”
The Center for Environmental Farming received an honorable mention in this category. From their nomination:

“The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) was founded on a partnership between the state’s two land-grant universities, NC State and NC A&T, and a third partner in on-farm research, NCDA&CS. Five years ago, through its strategic planning sessions, CEFS made a firm commitment to placing an even greater emphasis on weaving equity into the organization and its work. In order to display its commitment to this goal, CEFS amended its mission statement to read: ‘The Center for Environmental Farming Systems develops and promotes just and equitable food and farming systems that conserve natural resources, strengthen communities, improve health outcomes and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond.’

“The commitment to create a more equitable environment has been applied internally to all of CEFS, starting with our board of advisors, which includes a diverse composition of leaders representative of the diversity of NC. CEFS leadership is committed to equitable pay and advancement opportunities for all our employees and the creation of equitable and inclusive career ladder opportunities for young adults from underrepresented populations who desire an entry point into a career in sustainable agriculture and local food systems.

“The strategic planning process also spurred the establishment of The Committee on Racial Equity (CORE): Creating Racial Equity in the Food System, a CEFS initiative that examines food system inequities through the lens of structural racism. CORE seeks to create examples of how institutional change can be implemented with the guidance of seasoned community organizers experienced in racial equity training and to model this partnership in other institutions, states and nationally. CEFS leadership has encouraged all CEFS staff and board members to participate in these training as we work to create a shared language and understanding of the disparities that exist in the communities we live in and serve here in the south and how historically-constructed oppression is inextricably woven into our culture and institutions.”

Outstanding Student Organization


  • Feed the Pack
  • Mi Familia

Mi Familia received the Outstanding Student Organization Award. From their nomination:

“Mi Familia is the largest Hispanic/Latinx-based student organization on NC State’s campus. The purpose of Mi Familia is to provide individuals at NC State and the surrounding community with a social, political and cultural forum where they can learn about and experience the diverse Hispanic/Latinx culture and community. Every year, Mi Familia puts on numerous events in an effort to teach the community at NC State about the vast amount of diversity among Latin America, ranging from Afro-Latinx influence, indigenous traditions and Spanish influence. All of these events are tailored specifically for members outside of the Hispanic/Latinx community to come and learn.

“Mi Familia is an organization that cares about its members. Most of the students that attend Mi Familia’s meetings are typically first-generation and/or underrepresented students. Mi Familia helps these students find their place at NC State and ease the challenges they may face. MI Familia is also an organization that enjoys giving back to the community. Every year, Mi Familia partners with organizations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University in an effort to raise money for the UNIDOS Tri-University Scholarship, an award that celebrates the accomplishment of a high school senior in the community who has decided to pursue higher education. The entire family of the scholarship recipient is invited to a gala hosted by the three schools, in order to celebrate the accomplishment of the recipient.

“This year, Mi Familia announced the launch of its very own first scholarship, the Mi Familia Scholarship. This scholarship aims to make NC State the school of choice for a high school senior who plans on attending NC State and making a positive impact on the community and the university. This scholarship does not require citizenship to apply, and thus is open to DACA and undocumented students.

“Mi Familia is an organization that aims to influence students of color to pursue higher education and actively develops meaningful community partnerships that strengthen the relationship of NC State to the community and future students through sharing their personal narratives and building resources that allow for greater access.”

About the Awards

For more information about award criteria and timelines for these awards, please see Chancellor’s Creating Community Awards.