The multidisciplinary new major was approved by Connecticut College faculty in November.
A student activist who created a campus support network for LGBTQ students of color, a professor of history who gets people talking about diversity and a staff member devoted to educational equity in public schools are this year’s recipients of Connecticut College’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Awards.
The awards are given each year to those members of the College community who exemplify and uphold the legacy of Dr. King's work. The 2014 award recipients were honored at a Jan. 29 luncheon, “Dream: Continue the March Toward Justice.”
Anthony Sis ’14, the recipient of the student award, helped launch a permanent group on campus for students interested in exploring the connections between queer identity and racial identity through a social justice perspective. Under his leadership, the group has grown substantially.
“What he does – that very few people do well – is build bridges between different groups and help them work collaboratively,” said Professor Jen Manion, director of the College’s LGBTQ Resource Center.
Sis, a gender and women's studies and government double major and scholar in the College’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, is also a Housefellow and a Senior Admission Fellow and is active with SafetyNet, a sexual assault prevention peer education group, and Exodus, a program that provides support for underrepresented juniors and seniors in their transition to the "real world" after graduation. He has also worked to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and the importance of safe sex.
John Dargan ’14, who nominated Sis for the award, said Sis is a leader who is not afraid to make himself vulnerable. “He has turned his experiences into inspiration to continue to fight for equality and respect for everyone,” Dargan said.
Faculty recipient Leo Garofalo is the director of the College’s Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, and has led the College through important discussions of diversity and equity within the campus community.
In the classroom, Garofalo teaches students to connect history to modern-day issues of social justice. Last semester, he brought to campus a group of Peruvian potato farmers to explain to students how global warming is affecting them much more than it is affecting those in industrialized nations, since it is compromising the cultivation of the 1,400 varieties of potatoes Peruvian farmers produce.
“He reinforces the idea that education doesn’t come from a textbook, but happens through dialogue, through the sharing of ideas,” said Kevin Zevallos ’16, who nominated Garofalo for the award.
Staff recipient Kimberly Sanchez, associate director of the College's Office of Volunteers for Community Service (OVCS), was honored for her work developing and implementing programs that increase educational equity in public schools and, at the same time, provide College students an opportunity to learn about social justice issues and develop the skills to make positive changes in the community.
On campus, Sanchez serves as an adviser to UMOJA, the African/ African-American students' organization, and to the College’s Habitat for Humanity group, and she is active with the SHE program, which provides mentorship to women students of color.
Sanchez is also actively engaged in the community. She serves on the Winthrop Elementary School Governance Council and on the Community Service Committee of Rotaract, a global community of young adults taking action for positive change, and she is an active participant in the region-wide Community Coalition for Children, which works to create, sponsor and endorse educational and social programs for children.
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