Celebrating Diversity : Amplifying CU Denver’s Rich Blend of Culture
Students create ‘Cultural Awareness Certificate’
Their campus is a microcosm of the world, so a group of senior-seminar students decided to do something to celebrate and amplify CU Denver’s rich diversity.
“In our class we realized we all spoke multiple languages and had international travel backgrounds, so we decided to use that to connect international students with domestic students across campus,”
said Tess Farmer, a student in the University Honors and Leadership (UHL) capstone class. Farmer said the team initially struggled to come up with a project idea, but their shared global interest—and using it to encourage fellow students to check out the many cultural events on campus—gave them a strong focus.
The group devised a “Cultural Awareness Certificate” to award students who attended at least five cultural/international events in an academic year. “It’s a way to encourage them to go to events, get involved and know what other student clubs are doing,” Farmer said. “Basically, they’re exploring different world views through these events.”
“Everyone just got on board (with the idea),” added Lubna Mazin, another UHL team member. “We were like, ‘We’re doing this.'”
The team of five seniors originally considered hosting events to raise awareness of international culture, economics and political issues, but they soon realized that plenty of activities already take place on campus.
“There are a lot of events, a lot of clubs, a lot of diversity and cultural clubs on campus,”
Farmer said. The key is spreading awareness, among both international and domestic students, about the opportunities to learn about different cultures and meet students from diverse backgrounds.
The team used Global Ambassadors through the Office of International Affairs (OIA) to track student participation in the events. Those seeking certificates were also required to complete a survey and write a short essay about what they got out of attending the cultural events. In all, 114 students signed up for the Cultural Awareness Certificate program and 27 completed it. The first “class” received their certificates, along with green graduation honor cords, during a ceremony at St. Cajetan’s on May 6.
The certificate is non-credit at this point, but completion of the program helps enhance a student’s resume. The certificate was created in partnership with the UHL, Educational Opportunities Programs (EOP), OIA and Office of Student Life.
Also receiving recognition at the year-end event were 21 graduates of EOP; 16 graduates of Ethnic Studies; three Diversity Certificate recipients; and five Puksta Scholars. The latter students, all Ethnic Studies majors, each received $2,000 scholarships for projects focused on social justice.
As the students came to the stage, they each told the audience what they’d be doing next with their lives. The students also thanked professors and mentors in their academic programs and offered kudos to EOP, for its steadfast support over the years. Also involved in the program were representatives of OIA and the Office of Student Life.
Emma Sletteland, another UHL team member (the other two members are Hinna Zahid and Jamal Zahir), said plans are in the works for the Cultural Awareness Certificate to be administered by the OIA and EOP next year.
Cultural Awareness Certificate recipients:
Tayud Mongkolrat, Quiaochen Liu, Shubheksha Sthrestha, Donna Hobley, Kieu Phan, Kaylee Nakamura, Kevie Kawasaki, Maroua Chouechi, Aditi Nigudkar, Kevin Li, Star Hess, Alex Pong, Varshith Kuraganti, Yinlung Wang, Yu Ju Chen, Justin Nguyen, Sinduja Seethapathy, Anthony Dang, Tianyang Wang, Sweta Chalise, Kelsi Miles, Yachao Shang, Kunpor Suriwong, Suhail Ali, Dianne Kitt, Tian Zhang, Sharice Bass.
Zeinab Ali, Mohamed Ahmed, Kianna Crowe, William Mundo, Akemi Tsutsui.
Diversity Certificate recipients:
Sharice Bass, Sheila Dickerson, Myra Sanchez.
Kevie Kawasaki, Kaylae Nakamura, Lester Night, Jayden Tumbaga, Camden Tokunaga, Amy Ng, Valencia Hill-Wilson, Kelly Marlet, Quang-Minh Tran, Matthew Davis, Anushka Tandon, Anupkumar Soni, Rajiv Thapa, Jennifer Huynh, Sharice Bass, Thao Dang, Sinduja Seethapathy, Brittany Reid Jaraillo, Bethany Jo Hinzman, Dianne Kitt, Riham Bakhat.
Ethnic Studies graduates:
(majors) — Shewit Isaac Gebremichael, Elaine Gezahagne, Katy Marie Gorman, Kevin Lorenzo Harbin, Rudolph Logan Rice, Ashley Manning, Regat Abreha Tsehaye, Kimberly Watson, Jessica Van Alstin; (minors) — Riham Rizgalla Bakhat, Betlihem Zerezghi Ghebrekidan, Hannah Jong Lee, Liem Truong, Latosha Lindon, Rajiv Thapa, Amber Winston.
Cultural Diversity Certificate, contact Joanne Wambeke.
International Programs, visit Office of International Affairs
Originally Published: May 11, 2015