Courtesy of Cornell University

Recipients of the Perkins Prize and new Student and Campus Life Diversity and Inclusion Awards gather with leaders at the 25th annual Perkins Prize ceremony, April 17.

April 24, 2019

Perkins Prize, Diversity and Inclusion Awards Honor Community Members for Efforts to Diversify

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Student leaders and organizations were awarded last week for their contributions to diversity and inclusion efforts — ranging from sexual violence prevention to reducing food insecurity on campus.

On April 17, the James A. Perkins Prize for Interracial and Intercultural Peace and Harmony was awarded during a ceremony in the Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room. Endowed by Trustee Emeritus Tom Jones ’69 in 1994, the award aims to honor the legacy of former Cornell President James A. Perkins, who resigned after the Willard Straight Hall Takeover in May 1969.

This year, the Prize went to the Community Learning and Service Partnership program. The program creates mutual learning opportunities for Cornell employees and students to work together in learning partnerships, according to their website.

The Perkins Prize recipient was awarded $5,000 “to continue the program or develop new initiatives that continue to promote the values and ideals of peace, harmony, and understanding,” according to Marla Love, senior associate dean for diversity and equity.

In addition to the alumnus-funded award, this year, the Office of Student & Campus Life also debuted four Diversity and Inclusion Awards, which recognize students working towards improving the lives of those in LGBT community, women in engineering, and people of color in business. These awards were created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Willard Straight Hall Takeover, which happened this year.

The four awards are given individually to graduate students, undergraduate students, individual leadership and professional students.

Sabrina Sugano ’19 received the Transformational Leadership Award for her work with gender-based activism, sexual violence prevention and the LGBT community, including developing the Queer Sexual Violence Prevention program for the LGBT Resource Center.

“It is so encouraging and validating to know that student work to support marginalized communities on campus is being noticed and supported by the administration,” Sugano said.

The Professional Student Organization of the Year Award went to Healthcare Student Association, a “service and mission-oriented group” that aims to unify “all students interested in healthcare and the 360 degrees of wellness,” according to their website. One of the initiatives of HSA is the food pantry that has been serving students for the past two semesters.

The Dyson Students of Color Coalition were the recipients of the Undergraduate Student Organization of the Year Award. The program hosts events including the Business Clubs Summit, which brought business clubs together to discuss biases and diversity, and hopes to create a sense of community and “a platform to share ideas and challenges,” according to Julio Lopez ’21, one of the co-founders of DSCC.

“There was no space for minority students to get together specifically within the business school,” Lopez said, calling the prize “a big momentum.”

The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Graduate Women’s Group won the Graduate Student Organization of the Year Award. CBEWomen advocates for women in the CBE department and hosts programs including the WOMEN event, which brings 10th-grade girls to Cornell to learn about engineering and STEM.

“The prize is especially meaningful because we are the first group to be awarded,” CBE President Colleen Lawlor grad told The Sun in an email. “Hopefully we influence other graduate groups to become more involved as well.”