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Muse Banquet Hall was packed April 15 from 6 to 8 p.m., when the third annual Recognizing Excellence in Diversity Awards commenced.
The R.E.D. Awards come around only once a year to recognize individuals and organizations who, throughout the fall and spring semesters have been making a difference on campus and striving for excellence in diversity in all aspects.
The awards night kicked off with evening host Diavanti Bedford, more commonly known as “D,” the President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and Noella Kim, the Center For Diversity and Inclusion programming assistant shared a few words about what everyone would be expecting throughout the night as well as thanking all nominees for their hard work and dedication.
“There were over 100 nominees for this year’s awards,” said Crasha Townsend, the director for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.
“We’ve been planning this since late December and the judges have been working very hard, reading over and dissecting about 20 to 40 nominees each to make sure there was a definitive winner in each category.”
After the welcoming, Radford’s Dean of Students, Dr. Irvin Clark shared a small introduction on what it means to be a leader at Radford University.
This was followed by an “I Am Not My Skin” video, produced by junior Terrance Maynard which showed clips of Radford students expressing what diversity means to them and how that comes to play in leadership positions.
The anticipation only increased as entertainment was provided to the audience, including a deeply moving ode to women spoken word poem by a very talented freshman student, as well as a soothing vocal performance by Lorenzo Reyes as he sung elegantly, “Tu me Acostumbraste.”
The keynote speaker for the R.E.D. Awards was one of Radford’s very own sociology professors, Dr. Joanna Hunter.
Hunter is relatively new to Radford University, beginning her career here in August 2013 after teaching at a small Catholic liberal arts college in northwestern Indiana.
Her scholarly work focuses on situated identity practices and deals with the intersection of individual, organizational, racial and religious identities.
Her words of wisdom shed light on all four subject matters as it relates to diversity, stereotypes and leadership on Radford’s campus.
Once Hunter’s lecture concluded, there was a moderately brief period of relaxation and laughter throughout Muse Banquet Hall as dinner was served. But it was what came after that had everyone on the edge of their seats, the announcement of the award winners.
There were eight different categories, each consisting of different sections such as Behind the Scenes Leader, Outstanding Faculty Member and Excellence in a Social Justice Organization.
In the Behind the Scenes Leader category Diavanti Bedford was victorious in securing his award, but not without first recognizing how hard everyone in his category had worked.
“I feel like everyone nominated deserved something, just for the simple fact that the things we do aren’t for any sort of recognition, that’s why we’re the behind the scenes leaders; we do it for our campus, not for show,” Bedford said.
The Diversity Awareness Programing Executive Board as a whole took home three out of the eight awards during the evening. Among these were Outstanding New Program for their Black History Month dinner, Outstanding Student Organization, and DAP President Skye Heasley was solely awarded the Established Leader award.
“It feels good to know that all your hard work pays off, we really rebranded ourselves this year and to finally see that our efforts have gone recognized is very much appreciated,” Heasley said.
Other winners for the evening were as follows: Emerging Leadership: Kevon Dupree, Excellence in Social Justice: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Outstanding Faculty: Dr. Carla Corroto, Outstanding Staff: Dr. Irvin Clark and a special accolade was awarded to Lewis Townsend for the part he has played on Radford’s campus in diversity and community facilitation.
As the night came to a close, winners took snapshots with their awards held high. And although not everyone was able to secure a physical copy of endowment, each nominee was recognized for the level of commitment and energy they have brought to Radford’s growing table of diversity.