Tri-Cities, Spokane, Pullman honorees among MLK winners

By Steve Nakata, Administrative Services

MLK-awardeesPULLMAN, Wash. – Yuliya Ardasheva, an education professor at Washington State University Tri-Cities, and James Bledsoe, a longtime advocate for underrepresented students at WSU Pullman, are among those selected to receive the annual WSU Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award.

The honors will be awarded during the free, public WSU MLK Community Celebration at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, in the CUB ballroom at WSU Pullman. Learn more at

Also receiving the award will be criminal justice graduate student Amber Morczek and Queer People of Color and Allies – both at WSU Pullman – and the WSU Spokane/Eastern Washington University Spokane Diversity Events Subcommittee.

The winners were selected from nominations based upon their demonstrated altruism, community service, efforts to advance diversity and educational commitment to inclusion.

Yuliya Ardasheva


Ardasheva, an assistant professor of English as a second language/bilingual education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at WSU Tri-Cities since 2013, is a mentor and a member of the College of Education’s Diversity Committee, which advises administrators on issues including the recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty and staff.

In the community, she has volunteered in the public schools to help non-native speakers and to develop language support materials.

James Bledsoe


Bledsoe is the lead retention counselor for the Smart Start program in the Office of Multicultural Student Services. During his 16 years on the Pullman campus, he has provided leadership in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students as well as initiating comprehensive academic and career programming.

He has advised student groups and has helped bring to campus diverse speakers. He has served as master of ceremonies for events including the annual Multicultural Graduation Celebration and Future Cougars of Color.

Amber Morczek


When Morczek joined WSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology four years ago as a graduate student, she immediately went to work actively engaging others in building positive social change through her teaching, research, student activism and volunteering.

She helped lead the Prison Debate Project, which brought together WSU criminal justice students and inmate students at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. As a graduate assistant in the WSU Center for Violence Prevention, she has provided leadership for the Green Dot program and participated in other programs.

Queer People of Color and Allies

This group provides a place for activism that is not limited by race or gender. It focuses on helping people of multiple genders, races, sexualities and other marginalized identities and re-conceptualizing society’s understanding of diversity.

Last year the group held a “Speakout” rally to raise awareness and honor the lives of trans-women of color who have been murdered.

WSU Spokane/EWU Spokane Diversity Events Subcommittee

This group organizes events that address both awareness and education about diversity, inclusion and equity – including this year’s monthly brown bags sessions addressing diversity issues in higher education.

In addition to advising diverse student clubs, group members are visible throughout the Spokane community attending events such as the International Women’s Day Symposium, Unity in the Community and the Hispanic Heritage Festival.


Maria de Jesus Dixon, WSU Cultural and Heritage Houses manager, 509-339-6172,



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