PULLMAN, Wash. — Seven members of the Washington State University, University of Idaho and Pullman communities will be honored Jan. 22 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Awards.
The WSU winners:
–Susan Rae Banks, Faculty Award. She is a member of the Teaching and Learning Department in the College of Education.
— Harjas Ruby Dua, Undergraduate Award. She is a junior from Bellevue.
— Manuel Acevedo, Staff Award. He is associate director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services.
— Elaine Zakarison, Community Member Award. A Pullman resident, she is a long time civil and human rights activist.
The UI winners:
— Rodney Frey, Faculty Award. A member of American Indian Studies and Anthropology, he is American Indian Studies Program acting coordinator.
— Kwapi Vengesayi, Undergraduate Award. He is an architecture major from Zimbabwe.
— Scott Clyde, Staff Award. He is director of the TRIO programs.
They will receive their awards during the 16th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration and Distinguished Service Awards Ceremony and Banquet, set for 7-9 p.m. Wednesday in the Carey Ballroom of WSU’s Compton Union Building.
“Those honored truly live Dr. King’s vision,” said Herb Delaney, chair of the 2003 Dr. Martin Luther King Community Celebration. “We had an excellent pool of nominees, the most ever in the award program’s history. There were nominations received in every category. It made the selection’s committee final decision difficult.”
The committee selected award winners who embrace and practice Dr. King’s principles including unity, collective work and responsibility, purpose and self-determination. “They demonstrate commitment to racial harmony, equality, and equity in their activities and in their interaction with others,” Delaney said.
Susan Rae Banks, WSU Faculty Award
A member of the Arapahoe Nation, Susan Rae Banks has a personal and professional commitment to the Indian and special education communities. Her efforts help prepare Native American teachers through the WSU College of Education and Northwest Indian College in Bellingham partnership. She directs a federally-funded national program, which informs American Indian families of their responsibilities and rights in the education of their special needs children. A mentor of students of color, she co-directs the WSU Native American Women’s Association and is a WSU Future Teachers of Color mentor and recruitment speaker. Nominators say although humble about her contributions, Banks makes a difference in the lives of all she serves.
Harjas Ruby Dua, WSU Undergraduate Award
A graduate of Bellevue’s Newport High School, Ruby Dua believes understanding of different cultures takes place, in part, when ethnic groups reach out through various efforts to let others know more about them. Nominators call her a diplomat between cultures. For example, she brought people together to work on WSU’s successful Building Bridges night of cultural awareness and entertainment. She is Association for Pacific and Asian Women vice chair. Dua also is co-founder, treasurer and community services chair of the Sikh Students Association, which reached out to the community through a successful coat drive. Her activism is matched by her outgoing, upbeat nature as a person who treats people of all cultures with respect.
Manuel Acevedo, WSU Staff Award
Originally a WSU Chicano/Latino Student Center counselor and now in charge of the university’s multicultural student retention, Manuel Acevedo serves students of color with the highest level of respect and understanding. Nominators praise his work including, through directing the Multicultural Student Mentor Program and creating the Academic Enrichment Center that contributes to the academic success and retention of many WSU students. He is Council of Multicultural Student Presidents adviser and an Enrollment Management Council member. Through his efforts, his passion and keen intellect, he is a role model and mentor to the students he serves.
Elaine Zakarison, WSU Community Member Award
A 1954 WSU sociology graduate, Elaine Zakarison has been effective and determined civil and human rights activist for more than 30 years. Her background includes more than two decades working at WSU. The university’s successful multicultural student programs today are built upon a solid foundation she helped build. For example, as director of Support Services Programs, she administered the university’s Black, Native American and Chicano counseling offices, the WSU Child Care Center, Women’s Center and Disabled Student Services. She also supported creation of WSU’s MEChA chapter and provided resources and mentoring for Chicano student. Working with WSU faculty members, she fought for recruitment and retention of faculty of color. She founded anti-racism training programs at the university. From 1987-1994, she directed the National Student YWCA. In that role, she supported anti-racism initiatives on campuses and in communities around the country. Nominators say she lives by example, in her commitment to peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people.
Rodney Frey, UI Faculty Award
Rodney Frey’s dedication to and love of the Northwest Indians through his work and teaching is recognized and respected by the Crow, Coeur d’Alene and Nez Perce Indians, and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. His interest and efforts for these Native Americans includes books he has researched and written about their worlds. Nominators say his books and other projects reflect a true understanding and commitment to racial harmony, equality, and equity. He believes through appreciating people culturally and ethnically distinct from us, we acquire the best means of thwarting the seeds of intolerance, prejudice and oppression.
Kwapi Vengesayi, UI Undergraduate Award
Kwapi Vengesayi is a founding member of the Multicultural Student Organization. As organization president, he works steadfastly to bring the cultural/ethnic groups at the UI and WSU together to improve cultural understanding and appreciation. He is advocating the Associated Students of the UI create a diversity board to work with the university’s special interest groups, cultural/ethnic groups and disabled students. He believes one of the steps toward equality for people of color, indeed for the survival of all races, is to eliminate negative acts and words. Nominators say he is a tower of strength for both his peers and those who have come in contact with him and his vibrant persona.
Scott Clyde, UI Staff Award
Through the efforts of Scott Clyde, the UI is more supportive for all people. Nominators say he continually advocates for progressive change in the name of equality. He is praised for understanding and committing himself to issues of equality, including work on the Diversity Dialogues and the UI Diversity plan groups and the related student recruitment and retention task force. His dedication is complete. Clyde goes “above and beyond” for the benefit of group’s goals.