Annual YSU dinner recognizes acts of diversity

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Catherine Cooper was gratified to have received a prestigious award for promoting diversity and inclusion, but the honor is ancillary to her ultimate goal of doing all she can to ensure students’ success in college.

“I want students to feel welcome and supported on the YSU campus,” Cooper, a graduate student in Youngstown State University’s Department of Counseling, School Psychology and Educational Leadership, said before receiving the Leader of Tomorrow Award during Thursday evening’s 2018 YSU Diversity Leadership Recognition Celebration Dinner in Stambaugh Auditorium.

Dr. Sylvia J. Imler, associate vice president of YSU’s Division of Multicultural Affairs, hosted the gathering, which was focused on strengthening the university’s culture of community via diversity, inclusion and respect for others.

Cooper was among faculty, staff and administrators who took home awards for their efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion on the campus. In addition, three students were selected to receive $1,000 Diversity Leadership scholarships.

Cooper, who is pursuing a master’s degree in student affairs, cited as one of her primary aims supporting and addressing the needs of underserved populations. They include international and undocumented students, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and so-called “Dreamers,” she noted.

“I think that’s very important,” Cooper said. “We need to provide those programs to students.”

Also desiring to make her mark in a field geared to helping others was Riley K. Chiu, a YSU sophomore majoring in the biology/pre-medical field who was one of the scholarship recipients.

“I want to be an OT [occupational therapist], because it gives individuals the ability to be more independent and better able to do what we take for granted,” said Chiu, adding that her mother, Lynn Chiu, a special-education teacher, was highly influential in determining her field of study.

Chiu, who hopes to work with people who have special needs, added she was honored to have gotten a scholarship and thanked those who have helped her chart her career path.

Making a special appearance was Natalie Nguyen, a freshman who played the violin at the event and has written, directed and acted in a number of performances.

Additional remarks were from YSU President Jim Tressel.

Also at the dinner were 12 members of YSU’s Navarro Executive Fellows Program, a mentoring and work experience initiative for incoming freshman from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

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