The 2015 Diversity Awards are given by the UGA Graduate School and Alumni Association to recognize faculty and graduate students who create opportunities for underrepresented populations and achieve diversity on UGA’s campus and within the larger community. The award acknowledges the accomplishments related to diversity achieved through conducting research, engaging in scholarship and service to the community, and providing opportunities to foster greater communication, education, and interaction between faculty and underrepresented populations.
This year’s diversity awards were given to these UGA faculty and graduate students:
Graduate School Faculty Diversity Award: Martha Allexsaht-Snider
Martha Allexsaht-Snider, associate professor in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice, received the Faculty Diversity Award for her work in promoting diversity and inclusion within the university, local, and international communities. At UGA, Dr. Allexsaht-Snider’s cross-campus collaboration led to the founding of the University Multicultural Committee, which established the university-wide diversity requirement as part of every student’s program of study. She was also a founding member of the College of Education’s Multicultural Committee and has been a member of the Faculty Learning Community on Internationalization of the Curriculum. Dr. Allexsaht-Snider has designed several graduate courses to promote students’ inquiry and learning about issues of diversity and equity in education, such as: Understanding Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Schools Laboratory/Study Abroad in Mexico; Research in Multicultural Teacher Education; Family-School-Community Interactions: Theory, Research, and Practice; and Action Research. Dr. Allexsaht-Snider developed a study abroad program in Xalapa, Mexico to support exchanges among Mexican and American educators and to enrich the professional learning opportunities for Georgia teachers with large numbers of Latino immigrants in their classrooms. She is currently working with UGA COE colleagues with a collaborative National Science Foundation research project in Hall and Clarke Counties titled Language-rich Inquiry Science with English Language Learners.
Diversity Research Scholarship for Graduate Students: Karla Evans
Karla Evans, a master’s student in the Department of Religion, explores the identity formation and cultivation process of American women of all races and classes who have converted to Islam. Evans’s research centers on the process through which American women converts to Islam cultivate their identify as Muslim women, asking, “What makes you feel Muslim.” Her research allows Muslim women, in their own voices, to articulate what their identifies are apart from the images of the oppression of women in Islam. Evans’ research also contributes to the body of literature on conversion to Islam, Islam in America, and adds new information such as data on Latina converts. Evans hopes her research will help promote a shift in the dialogue surrounding American female converts to Islam.
Diversity Research Scholarship for Graduate Students: Ashleigh McKinzie
Ashleigh McKinzie, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology, researches the aftermath of natural disasters – specifically the 2011 Joplin, MO and Tuscaloosa, AL tornadoes – and how discrimination plays an active role in the experiences of survivors. McKinzie’s study examines how the understanding of disaster (and its aftermath) are shaped by preexisting gender, race and class inequalities. Through interviews with survivors of the Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes, she studies the way disaster alters people’s sense of individual and collective identity and their experiences of socio-historical structural barriers. By contributing to scholarly understandings connecting disaster, structural inequality, and social suffering, McKinzie hopes her work will shape policy responses to future disasters.
Graduate Student Diversity Engagement Award: Stephanie Anne Shelton
Stephanie Anne Shelton, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Language and Literacy Education, combines scholarship and community outreach to work on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) populations. Shelton examines the ways that aspects of identity such as race, class, and gender intersect with the social, cultural, and political factors that influence people’s support of or resistance to LGBTQ matters. Recognizing that student teachers felt unprepared to serve as advocates for LGBTQ students, Shelton began a discussion group to examine LGBTQ topics in education. She has since helped establish an Athens-based LGBTQ resource center for community youth and has most recently begun teaching on LGBTQ issues at UGA’s Institute for Women’s Studies.