Tribute to “leaders and agents of change” for diversity, equity and inclusion


UC Davis recently presented the 2022 Chancellor’s Excellence Awards for Diversity and Community, honoring one undergraduate and one graduate student, one postdoctoral fellow, and three staff and faculty members.

Mikael Villalobos

“It’s the leaders and agents of change who are making a real difference in moving UC Davis toward a more diverse and inclusive campus community,” said Mikael Villalobos, Acting Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Community Relations. , in his prepared remarks for the awards ceremony on May 3 at the Chancellor’s Residence.

Chancellor Gary S. May said in his prepared remarks, “These awards speak deeply to me personally and professionally, as I have dedicated much of my career to enhancing our diversity in higher education and in the workplace. of work.

“The honorees we are recognizing today remind me of how much talent, tenacity and commitment to diversity we find throughout UC Davis and our region.”

There is still work to be done, he said, adding this caveat: “There remain opposing forces that constantly oppose our efforts to embed diversity, equity and inclusion in everything what we do”.

All the more reason to present the Chancellor’s Awards for Diversity and Community, to elevate and showcase those of us who, in the words of the Chancellor, “do the excellent job of exemplifying our Principles of community.”

He then handed the program over to Renetta Garrison Tull, Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, who introduced each recipient noting their accomplishments in building diversity and community. These introductions are summarized below:

Undergraduate award recipient Thu Pham ’21, pictured with her guests at the awards reception: Ronald Jan, medical director of the student-run Paul Hom Asian Clinic where Pham works, and Thuy-Linh Tran, Winter ‘ 22, who also works at the clinic. “I’ve worked with them for a few years and couldn’t have done so many projects without them,” Pham said.

First cycle : Thu Pham ’21, BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Biological Sciences – Pham developed a strong passion for equity in healthcare as a result of her work with the UC student-run Paul Hom Asian Clinic Davis, providing medical services to underserved and uninsured Asian populations; and an internship with the Vietnam Cancer Awareness, Research and Education Society, or VN CARES. She helps low-income, uninsured, and undocumented patients obtain free medications and medical devices used for chronic disease management, acquiring these essential resources through several major projects launched under Pham’s leadership, enabling patients serviced to save more than $500,000. Its ultimate mission is to reduce health care disparities through drug development. To continue working in this direction, she will attend UC San Francisco to pursue a doctorate. in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics, starting in September.

Rebecca Litman

Graduate Student: Rebecca “Becca” Litman from the Graduate School of Management, healthcare communicator and project manager for Blue Shield of California, who is in her final year of studies for a MBA with a concentration in Strategy and Organizational Behavior – During the 2020-21 academic year, Litman served as the student representative on the GSM Faculty Diversity Committee, where she prioritized projects that foster inclusion and encourage candidates from underrepresented minorities, or URMs, to continue their training in GSM. She researched the best way to expand the academic pipeline and led a creative proposal for deferred admission to the UC Davis URM Senior Undergraduate MBA Program. And she was one of the leaders of the GSM Action for Diversity initiative’s 21-week anti-racism challenge, which focused on understanding and rejecting anti-black racism.

Alexandra Colon Rodriguez

Postdoctoral: Alexandra Colón-Rodriguez, a Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior – Having experienced first-hand the limitations of neuroscience research and education in her native Puerto Rico, Colon-Rodriguez took the opportunity to raise awareness about the field, especially to people like her from historically marginalized populations. A mentor to more than 30 neuroscience research students, she also developed the Northern California Society of Toxicology Mentorship Program and the Bridge to Neuroscience Workshop, the latter targeting the Hispanic population. She has conducted K-12 and undergraduate science outreach activities through in-person and virtual workshops. And she founded the STEAM100X35 initiative, amplifying the work of Puerto Rican women in science, technology, engineering, arts and math, and encouraging the next generation through outreach activities .

Maria Blanco

Staff: Maria Blanco, director of the University of California Immigrant Legal Services Center, which operates out of UC Davis School of Law – The center, the first of its kind in the nation, brings immigration services to nine UC campuses, including Davis, to ensure the retention and graduation of first generation students. With one foot in legal academia and the other in legal practice and policy, Blanco has led leading legal organizations fighting for justice and constitutional protections for all. She served as lead counsel in a landmark case that expanded Title VII law (the federal prohibition of employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, part of Civil Rights Act of 1964) undocumented workers in California. Thanks to Blanco’s leadership, hundreds of UC students and their family members have obtained legal immigration assistance.

Academic Federation Award recipient Orlando Carreón and his father, Ruben D. Carreón, accompanied by Vice Chancellor Tull and Chancellor May.

Academic Federation: Orlando Carreón, teacher educator at the School of Education – His interests include teaching and research within a decolonial and social justice framework to disrupt how discourses of race, culture, ideology and power affect Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color, or BIPOC. carreon has over 15 years of experience as an educator and is currently dedicated to developing “Grow Your Own Teacher” programs through which local communities can create pathways for students to become teachers. Within the School of Education’s degree program, he co-created and leads a mentorship program in which diversity, equity, and inclusion trickle down through the ranks of faculty and students who support each other. mutually as BIPOC and minorities. It brought together faculty, trainee teachers, and resident teachers to discuss causes and action plans for equity and inclusion in the classroom, reaching a much wider audience than just faculty.

Tiffani Johnson

Academic Senate: Tiffani Johnson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine — She explores the root causes of inequities in early childhood health care and education settings, including research on racism and bias and their impact on the health and well-being of children. Johnson’s primary leadership roles are in national research and academic organizations where she has helped make diversity, equity and inclusion a strategic priority. This has included the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Anti-Bias and Discrimination, which helped lay the foundation for the academy’s equity program. She has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to advancing equity among underrepresented and underserved communities through service, teaching, clinical care and research that aims to dismantle the structures of racism that impact the health of children and the success of students and interns.


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