Willimantic, CT - Nearly 112 students with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher, and an additional 20 students who have demonstrated exemplary co-curricular engagement across campus were recognized at Eastern's first Annual Inclusive Excellence Student Award Ceremony. The award ceremony recognized the academic, campus-wide, and personal success of African, Latino/a, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students at Eastern.
"Saluting the academic achievements of more than 100 students of color today, and the contributions they and other students are making to enrich the cultural diversity of this campus is not only a way to congratulate the students receiving this recognition, but it is a message to everyone on our campus and beyond--we are proud of the achievements and contributions of today's awardees, because they deserve it, and because it reminds us of our core value of inclusion," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez as she acknowledged the recipients.
"All of you are receiving this award represent the realization of the value of academic excellence, inclusion and empowerment," said Rhona Free, vice president of academic affairs. "You have given yourselves access to a set of careers and opportunities that are only available to those who have demonstrated that they set and meet high standards, that they have exceptional analytical skills and that they are highly motivated. Your futures are bright."
"This event presents an amazing opportunity to share the accomplishments of more than 130 ALANA students with the campus community," said Amilcah Gomes, student development specialist and organizer of the event. "I am thankful to be part of this event's unique role in highlighting ALANA student success at Eastern."
Latoya Smith '06, Eastern alumnus and producer of multimedia content for Black Enterprise magazine delivered the keynote address. "Going to college for me wasn't just about putting the letters B.A and B.S. and then M.S. on my resume and defining myself by a piece of paper," said Smith. "The experience meant so much more to me. I thought about the sacrifices my mother had made so that my brother and I could get an education. Or the sacrifices of our grandparents and great grandparents, who marched, sat in and fought for justice so that we could have an education. That kept me feeling humbled and never entitled." Smith graduated magna cum laude from Eastern with a Bachelor of Science in Communication and a Bachelor of Arts in History. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Print Journalism from Boston University.
Awards at the event ranged from Academic Achievements and Athletic Excellence recognition to Career Development and Global Partnership recognition.