PSU President Wim Wiewel celebrates diversity with annual awards
Author: University Communications, Global Diversity and Inclusion
Posted: May 23, 2013

Portland State President Wim Wiewel honored 10 students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors on May 22 for their work advancing diversity on campus at the Ninth Annual President’s Diversity Awards.

For more photos of the winners, go here. 

The winners are: 

Undergraduate Student: Kevin Thomas
Thomas is senior majoring in Women’s Studies and minoring in Indigenous Nations Studies. He has been an Honors student in all of his undergraduate studies. Thomas has demonstrated his commitment to working with diverse communities on campus such as Black Studies, Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, Indigenous Nations Studies and Chicano/Latino Studies. He helps fellow students and colleagues in their academic learning and volunteers for the United Indian Students in Higher Education (UISHE).

Graduate Student: Eric Ernesto Aguilar
Aguilar is working on a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics. In his work with Cesar Chavez school, he and the PSU Veterans group prepared an opportunity for minority students to participate in a tour and panel session at PSU with successful minority graduates and community members, encouraging the students to stay in school, graduate, and continue on to higher education. He has continued to support these connections and more through a Community Activism class taught by Janet Cowal (Applied Linguistics) and encourages his fellow students and teachers to a more active role in supporting diversity in our community.

Faculty: Dr. Masami Nishishiba
Dr. Nishishiba, assistant professor of Public Administration and assistant director for the Center for Public Service, teaches courses in Diversity including “Enhancing Diversity in the Workplace,” which is offered to Masters in Public Administration students, and co-teaches Public Leadership & Cultural Competence in the Executive Masters of Public Administration program. In these classes she integrates academic and experiential learning so that students complete the course with a comprehensive understanding about the value and meaning of diversity, as well as a new personal self-awareness about their bias and behavior. In addition, Dr. Nishishiba has recently led the International Field Experience for the EMPA program. 

Staff: Melanie Dixon-Carldwell
Dixon-Carldwell works as the assistant director in the office of Diversity and Multicultural Student Services, and she previously served as the African American student service coordinator. She also oversees the Diversity Enrichment Scholarship, which assists recipients financially as well as academically through a college success course. She manages over 200 students in her program and also has a general pool that she works with that is almost equal in size. 

Staff: Kanaan Kanaan 
As PSU’s Middle East student retention specialist/advisor, Kanaan seeks to make the experience of attending PSU a successful, positive, and enriching one for its large Middle Eastern student population. Their success developing confidence in a new culture, camaraderie with classmates and colleagues, and trust with professors leads to positive feedback about PSU to others in their native countries. This can lead to growth of this student population, which deepens and broadens the diversity reflected at PSU and the students it serves.

Team: Students for Social Action (Patricia Narvaez, Matt Chorpenning, and Malika Edden) 
The three awardees have been critical to making progress toward diversity goals in the School of Social Work by creating the Students for Social Action group, which enables students to engage in meaningful dialogue around power and privilege and its intersection with roles of social workers. Students for Social Action has initiated change within the School and larger community and created a space that is inclusive, vibrant, and saturated with personal and collective growth. 

Almunus: Mark Jackson
Jackson is a 1995 graduate of Portland State University with credentials in Sociology, Communications, English and Black Studies. He was a recipient of the Portland State University Leadership Fellows Program for Nonprofit Management in 1995. He has since worked for non-profit organizations such as Self Enhancement Inc. and the I Have a Dream Foundation-Oregon. In 2001, Mr. Jackson co-founded REAP, Inc. (Reaching Empowering All People), a nonprofit organization and currently serves as the vice president and executive director. REAP aims to turn problems into solutions in the areas of youth development, public education, family motivation and community building.

Donor: Dr. Keren Brown Wilson
Wilson, a PSU alumni and adjunct professor, has spent most of her life working on community-based care issues. She and her husband, Michael DeShane, donated $1 million to help fund the Aging Matters initiative in Portland State's Institute on Aging. The initiative uses a community approach to identify underutilized assets and strengths of both individuals and communities to help older adults maintain their independence. Their donation towards the initiative ensures that this realm of study will continue to be taught at PSU. Wilson is the founder and president of the Jessie F. Richardson Foundation (JFR), which aims to improve the lives of vulnerable older adults, particularly in developing areas.