Cal Poly Pomona heralded faculty, staff and students dedicated to promoting diversity and uplifting underrepresented communities at the 24th annual Unity Luncheon.
The Black Faculty & Staff Association hosted the Feb. 11 event, themed “Marching Forward Together,” in the Bronco Student Center’s Ursa Major Suite.
The featured keynote speaker was Wenonah Valentine, executive director of iDREAM for Racial Health Equity, an organization dedicated to empowering millennial and community health advocate leaders and providing them with an understanding of the social, academic, environment and economic issues that impact health outcomes in their respective communities.
Valentine spoke of President Barack Obama’s grace and leadership under fire and called the attendees to rise to the challenges they face with that same sort of graciousness.
She recalled how at 19, she brought her six-week-old baby to her college campus, moved into family housing, got involved in various organizations on campus and balanced her activities with double majoring in black studies and economics.
“When I think about my younger self I think of the kids in this room,” she said. “This is the seed. This is the place where the pipeline becomes real, the pipeline for your promise and the pipeline for your purpose.”
Valentine called for those in the crowd to learn how to identify the champions in their own lives and develop a culture of resilience to become part of that “tribe of overcomers.”
“It is our job to be able to say what is right,” she said. “If we’re able to develop that language of what is right of what is resilient, that is what we need to build to muscle and then to spread the wings for us to fly.”
Each of the affinity organizations on campus honored 2016 Diversity Champions. The award recipients are:
ACCESS and disABILITY ALLIANCE (AdA)
Joanne Van Boxtel, assistant professor in the College of Education and Integrative Studies
Alfredo Cortez-Valle, human resources student
Asian Pacific Faculty, Staff & Students Association (APFSSA)
Mary Danico, associate dean in the College of Environmental Science
Pia Sumalinog, business administration student
Black Faculty, Staff & Student Association (BFSA)
Lori Barker, professor of psychology and sociology in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences
Goodness Daramola, computer science student
Latino Faculty, Staff & Student Alliance (LFSSA)
Reyes Luna, interim executive director of University Housing Services
Diana Ascencio, management and human resources student
Native American Student Center
Lily Gossage, director of Maximizing Engineering Potential
Desiree Brazeau, kinesiology student
Shelbi Long, associate director of ASI Campus Recreation
Yuet Yeung Lee (Veon), mechanical engineering student