WSU Vancouver announces five top awards

Students walk through the WSU Vancouver campus.
WSU Vancouver

Washington State University Vancouver has announced its 2020 awards for advancing equity, research, student achievement, teaching and service. Awardees typically receive their Chancellor’s Medallions at the spring commencement ceremony. This year’s May 9 ceremony has been postponed due to Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order. A new date has not been established.

WSU Vancouver’s 2020 awards include:

  • Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Equity—Luz Rocío Sotomayor, Senior Instructor of Mathematics
  • Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence—Marcelo Diversi, Interim Academic Director and Professor of Human Development
  • Chancellor’s Award for Student Achievement—Vince Chavez, B.S., Biology and Neuroscience
  • Chancellor’s Award for Service to WSU Vancouver—Michael C. Worthy, President and CEO of WW Payment Systems, Inc. and WSU Regent
  • Students’ Award for Teaching Excellence—Andra Chastain, Assistant Professor of History

Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Equity

This award honors a faculty or staff member for helping to infuse equity-mindedness throughout the campus and/or helping to build and maintain a safe, welcoming campus environment.

Closeup of Rocío Sotomayor
Rocío Sotomayor

Rocío Sotomayor teaches statistics and probability, but her efforts on behalf of students go beyond the classroom. She often acts as a mentor for equity-minded student organizations and initiatives that promote a more inclusive campus climate. Last fall, as part of Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month, she led efforts to hold a vigil and dedication space honoring Hispanic and Latinx voices and roots—an event that spurred Latinx student organizations to convene and create a new student group, Latinx Leads. Sotomayor serves on the Council on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and is also a member of the Equity of Student Outcomes Council.

Sotomayor joined WSU Vancouver in 2014. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru and her master’s degree from Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada in Rio de Janeiro. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence

The university’s highest research honor is given to a faculty member whose work has been exemplary and influential.

Closeup of Marcelo Diversi
Marcelo Diversi

Marcelo Diversi’s second book, “Betweener Autoethnographies: A Path Toward Social Justice,” was timely when published in 2018—even ahead of its time. It is a study of the tribal, “us versus them” mentality that is increasingly prevalent worldwide. The book proposes bridging the divide through deep understanding of who we are, realization of how our subjectivity colors our views, and embracing the spaces “in-between” individuals. That is the first step toward inclusive social justice.

Diversi earned a bachelor’s degree at Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Brazil, and a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Illinois. In 2006, he joined WSU Vancouver, where he teaches human development and is currently interim academic director. He has written two books with co-author Claudio Moreira, a fellow Brazilian who teaches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Betweener Autoethnographies” was preceded by “Betweener Talk” (2009). Both received best book awards from the National Communication Association Division of Ethnography.

Chancellor’s Award for Student Achievement

Each year a graduating student is recognized for academic achievement, overcoming barriers, leadership potential and involvement in campus life.

Closeup of Vince Chavez
Vince Chavez

While pursuing a degrees in biology and neuroscience with minors in microbiology and chemistry, Vince Chavez was active outside the classroom too. He served as a mentor, leader and role model for his fellow students through a variety of positions on campus.

While the 2018/19 president of Associated Students of WSU Vancouver, he worked to advance values of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging across campus. A change agent for equity, he served on the campus Bias Response Team and worked to ensure WSU Vancouver is a safe, inclusive space for all. He was instrumental in the creation of THRIVE—Truth, History, Resilience, Intersectionality, Voice, Equity—a bridge program for first-year, first-generation students from economically disadvantaged and often underrepresented racial communities.

Chavez, who hopes to become a medical doctor, has been active in research on campus. He worked in the lab of Professor Christine Portfors and co-authored a published paper.

Chancellor’s Award for Service to WSU Vancouver

The award recognizes leadership on behalf of WSU Vancouver and dedication of time, talent and resources toward advancing WSU’s mission.

Closeup of Mike Worthy
Mike Worthy

To call Mike Worthy a super Coug might actually be an understatement. A Vancouver resident, he has been a WSU Regent since 2006, chaired the Presidential Search Advisory Committee to select current president Kirk Schulz, is a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council for WSU Vancouver and the WSU Foundation, and is past president of the WSU Alumni Association.

As a Regent, Worthy has provided a strong voice of support for WSU Vancouver students, faculty and staff. He supports student scholarships, sponsors numerous events and activities for the Vancouver campus, and remains a trusted advisor to the chancellor.

Co-founder, president and CEO of Vancouver-based WW Payment Systems, Worthy often speaks to business classes about his experience in the banking industry. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration and economics from WSU Pullman.

Student’s Award for Teaching Excellence

Students vote to honor a faculty member who instills enthusiasm and passion in students and commits time outside of the classroom to prevent them from falling through the cracks.

Closeup of Andra Chastain
Andra Chastain

Andra Chastain may ask a lot of her students, but she gives even more than she asks, inspiring students to dig deeper, think harder and aim higher than they thought they could. She believes in setting high expectations, communicating them clearly and then showing how they are attainable. She encourages students to speak up, and her introductory and advanced history classes are lively with discussion.

Chastain earned her bachelor’s degree from Reed College in Portland, then went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, both an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Yale University, and a Ph.D. from Yale in 2018. She has been teaching at WSU Vancouver ever since. She is currently revising her dissertation into a book about the history of the metro system in Santiago, Chile.

Celebrating WSU’s 2020 Graduates

For the first time, WSU is throwing a virtual graduation celebration for graduates from all six WSU campuses. Tune in at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 9 at Members of the class of 2020 are encouraged to share their WSU memories, photos and videos using #CougGrad.

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