RED Awards honors excellence in diversity

Ralph Winfrey |

On Thursday, April 21, from 6 to 8 p.m., The Center for Diversity and Inclusion sponsored the 4th annual Recognizing Excellence in Diversity (RED) Awards in Muse’s Banquet Hall. This event was hosted and narrated by Tylisia Crews and Josue Torres.

The night was initiated by Dr. Irvin Clark, Radford University’s very own dean of students.

“This student organization has given students a higher level of consciousness and gives Radford a unique flavor,” said Clark.

He spoke briefly about watching this event grow over the years and students becoming more comfortable with being different.

Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Mark Shanley, then literally rolled up to the stage and did not let his broken foot prevent him from giving the audience a thought to ponder.

“Diversity is not only race, but the ways of thinking,” stated Shanley.

He also spoke about his experience as a room adviser at the University of Cincinnati his sophomore year and how that made him more conscious of different people and cultures.

Prior to the keynote speaker of the night, sophomore Amber Hairston and pianist Donna Alley serenaded the audience with live vocals. This served as the opener to Brandon “Real T@lk” Williams.

Williams was an extremely interactive man that easily kept the attention of the audience; he was able to flawlessly shift between being comedic and serious and his presentation gave real world examples and life lessons that the audience could relate to.

His speech stimulated the room and transformed the atmosphere. He spoke about solutions and prevention, then challenged audience members to find out who they really were.

One example is when he asked a member of the audience “Who are you?” This question is much deeper than responding with a name or even characteristic of oneself. The manner in which he responded to this question showed his ambition and purpose in life.

The question is not about who you are now but who you have the potential to be. Only once the answerer understood the purpose of the question could he truly answer it. After this deep exercise of thought he then concluded with a poem that encouraged and revealed concepts that may have been taught but not deeply thought about.

Crasha Townsend, Natalie Fajardo, and Tasia Persson presented the awards.

The recipients included a mix of students, faculty members and student organizations. Specifically awarded were Kyle Lynch, Shawn Ficadenti, Joshua Nehemiah Bester, Aisha Foy, Black Student Alliance (BSA), Dr. Sara O’Brian, James Pennix, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Diversity Awareness Program, Dr. Michele Ren, and Craig Authur. They received framed certificates followed by a roar of applause.

This is the full list of winners:

Behind the Scenes Leader – Kyle Lynch
Crossroads Initiative Leader – Shawn Ficadenti
Emerging Leader & Outstanding Student Organization– Nehemiah Bester / DAP
Established Leader – Aisha Foy
Excellence in Social Justice – Black Student Alliance, Terrance Maynard
Outstanding Faculty – Dr. Sara O’Brien
Outstanding Staff – James Pennix
Outstanding New Program – Alpha Kappa Alpha “Global Love,” Destiny Howard
Diversity & Inclusion Award – Michele Ren
Diversity in the Community – Craig Arthur

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