Graduate School recognizes diversity, inclusion

The Graduate School honored 22 students, faculty and staff with its annual Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Awards and Recognition Celebration, held June 12 on Zoom.

The awards were presented by the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement (OISE) and the Graduate and Professional Student Diversity Council. The event recognizes the excellence represented within the graduate community and celebrates students for their academic, leadership and service accomplishments, and for reaching milestones toward degree completion.

Sara Xayarath Hernández, Kara Guse, Eugene Law, Luca Maurer, Alexander LaCrampe, Chelsea Stephens and Gwendolyn Beacham, left to right, are pictured at the October 2019 Building Allyship Series event. The series received the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement’s Change Agent Award.

Given recent national events that have heightened awareness of racial and social inequity, the graduate community was called to action and solidarity by Brianna Tate, president of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association and a doctoral student in animal science, who provided opening remarks.

“We need to push each other,” she said, “regardless of color, regardless of sex, regardless of sexual orientation; we need to come together and support one another.”

Sara Xayarath Hernández, associate dean of inclusion and student engagement, noted that “many in the graduate community have been experiencing an increasingly challenging time, given the contemporary issues we are dealing with, which are rooted in a legacy of racism that exists at systemic and structural levels. However, we’re grateful that this evening we are able to gather and to take a moment to be together and to celebrate one another.”

The awards honor members of the Cornell graduate community who have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to advancing efforts around diversity, inclusion, outreach and student engagement. Faculty and staff were also recognized with awards for their commitment to diversity and inclusion and promotion of the personal and professional development of graduate and professional students, especially those from historically underrepresented backgrounds.

The 2020 award winners:

  • Exemplary Service – Early Graduate Career Award: Trevor Donadt, chemical engineering doctoral student;
  • Exemplary Service – Advanced Graduate Career Award: Zoe Getman-Pickering, Ph.D. ’20, entomology; Aaron Joiner, biochemistry, molecular and cell biology doctoral candidate; and Marissa Rice, psychology doctoral candidate;
  • Excellence in Leadership Award: Lauren Genova, Ph.D. ’20, chemistry and chemical biology;
  • Social Justice Award: Stephen Kim, English doctoral candidate; and Chelsea Stephens, biomedical engineering doctoral student;
  • Community Outreach Award: Paige Priest, M.P.H. '20; and Renee Sifri, chemistry doctoral candidate;
  • Unsung Hero Award: Anitra Douglas-McCarthy, Graduate School senior director of recruitment; Kara Peet, graduate field assistant in English; and Stephanie Westmiller, graduate field assistant in entomology;
  • Junior Faculty Champion Award: Ifeoma Ajunwa, associate professor of labor relations, law and history; and Sabrina Karim, assistant professor of government;
  • Senior Faculty Champion Award: Monica Geber, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, director of graduate studies and chair of the graduate admissions committee; and Jennifer Thaler, professor of entomology and director of graduate studies;
  • OISE Change Agent Award: The Building Allyship Series, led by Gwendolyn Beacham, biochemistry, molecular and cell biology doctoral candidate; Kara Guse, master of public administration student; Janani Hariharan, soil and crop sciences doctoral candidate; Alexander LaCrampe, biochemistry, molecular and cell biology doctoral student; Eugene Law, doctoral candidate in soil and crop sciences; and Chelsea Stephens, doctoral student in biomedical engineering.

Katya Hrichak is a communications assistant in the Graduate School.

Media Contact

Abby Butler