Tuesday, April 29, 2013
UNO Celebrates Diversity Awards
Undergraduate student Le'Yondo Dunn received the University Outstanding Student for
Commitment to Diversity Award.
For more than 50 years, the University of New Orleans has aimed to create an ethnically,
racially and socioeconomically diverse campus that welcomes and celebrates students
and faculty of all creeds and cultures. This month, the University's Office of Diversity
Affairs advanced that mission with an awards ceremony designed to honor students,
faculty and organizations on campus who have worked to build relationships and understanding
and break down barriers.
"To me, the diversity ceremony is important because it is a night to celebrate diversity,"
said Maria Murillo, a graduate assistant in the University's Office of Diversity Affairs.
"Students work really hard on the different events on campus. Sometimes they volunteer
to work with our department, but sometimes they [develop diversity events] on their
The Office of Diversity Affairs presented awards on Monday, April 22 to an outstanding
student, an outstanding staff member and an outstanding student organization for demonstrating
commitment to diversity. The Office also awarded four student organizations – the
Nippon Japan Culture Club, Genshiken Anime Club, Renshuu Douraku and the Saudi Students
Union – certificates of recognition for having put together this semester two cultural
cafes, one on Japan and one on Saudi Arabia.
Outstanding Student for Commitment to Diversity
Le'Yyondo Dunn received the University's 2012-2013 Outstanding Student for Commitment
to Diversity Award. Dunn has demonstrated scholastic achievement, dedication to social
justice issues and passion for bettering his community, Murillo said. He is known
around campus as a leader, specifically as a Senator in Student Government, chair
of the UNO Student Leadership Conference, business manager for the Driftwood newspaper and a member of the UNO Track and Field Team. He serves on numerous university
committees as the representative of the student body, including a search committee
for a new Dean of Business and a new committee on university technology fees.
"Faculty, students and staff continually look to him as a voice of the students,"
Murillo said, who said that Dunn's unwavering dedication to diversity and social justice
shined this year when he chaired the Student Leadership Conference. "He planned and
implemented a citywide, collegiate conference to promote civic-engagement, leadership
development, and diversity initiatives among student leaders. Through his program,
he created an initiative that continually challenged his peers to think innovatively
on how to address injustices in their community."
For the past year, Dunn has worked for the Redevelopment Authority of New Orleans
(NORA) as the Assistant to the Director of External Affairs and he hopes to become
a fellow in the MBA Consortium, which strives to promote diversity among African American
and Latin American Communities.
He was chosen for his award "because of his passion for inspiring fellow students
to become effective ethical leaders, and responsible citizens, because he holds key
leadership characteristics that will make him truly successful both the UNO community
and beyond and because of his strong work ethic, proactive nature, intelligence and
drive to give back to the community," Murillo said.
Outstanding Staff Member for Commitment to Diversity Award
Sarah Spivey, a graduate service assistant for the Office of International Students
and Scholars, received the 2012-2013 Outstanding Staff Member for Commitment to Diversity
Spivey "is a rich resource to the International Student Organization because of her
support and involvement," Murillo said. "She has demonstrated dedication and commitment
to her role, which contributed to the student organization's success at UNO."
Spivey went "above and beyond" expectations fulfilling her role as an adviser for
the student organization, Murillo said. "Without her, it would have been really hard
for ISO to put together International Night, which is a huge event that brings more
than 750 people on campus.
Outstanding Student Organization for Commitment to Diversity Award
The Latin American Student Association (LASA) received the University's 2012-2013
Outstanding Student Organization for Commitment to Diversity Award, Murillo said.
The student organization partnered twice with Puentes New Orleans and the Muslim Student
Association as part of the Welcoming Louisiana Initiative, said Maria Murillo. The
initiative is an effort to welcome immigrants to area communities through education
and open-dialogue projects aimed at promoting a healthy partnership between immigrants
and non-immigrants – and to tear down misconceptions between the two groups.
This year, LASA also hosted an ALMA Awards Watch Party, which brought members of the
University community to The Cove for Latino fare and fun with friends watching the
ALMA Awards ceremony, an annual awards show for Latino artists from all over the U.S.
hosted by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). In fall, LASA hosted a Rumba Party
that included talent performances from Latino and non-Latino UNO students, and raffle
prizes. On Saturday, LASA hosted the University's first annual Latin Fest, which included
a guest artist from Honduras, local Latin American bands, dance groups, local restaurants
LASA participated in UNO's International Night, diversity fairs and organizational
fairs, said Murillo. The organization was honored for "for being a very dynamic and
welcoming student organization, for enhancing diversity through their on and off campus
activities, for its strong involvement with students, cultures, other student organizations
and the community and for highly representing UNO and the Latino culture."