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2016 Deacon Davis Diversity Award winners named

April 26, 2016
Romeo Jackson

Romeo Jackson

NIU’s Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities (PCSM) has selected students Romeo Jackson, Daniel H. Tamayo and Javier Rodriguez, along with Charles Ogundipe (assistant director, Financial Aid, CHANCE Program) and professor LaVerne Gyant (Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education) as the recipients of this year’s Deacon Davis Diversity Award.

Glenda Jones, collection specialist II in the Bursar’s Office, will be acknowledged for her longtime service to the university.

Named in honor of Deacon Davis, founder and former director of the CHANCE (Counseling Help & Assistance Necessary for a College Education) Program, the award was created by the PCSM to recognize the significant contributions made to the improvement of the status of minorities on campus by members of the university community.

The Deacon Davis Diversity Award also recognizes organizations, departments or programs that significantly improve the status of minorities at NIU.

Jackson (pronouns: they/them) is an undergraduate student pursing a contract major with a focus in intersectionality and social justice. According to one nominator, “Romeo is an advocate for individuals from all backgrounds, which is reflected in their work and their leadership.”

While working at NIU’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, Jackson has made “great strides to improve the lives of LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff by increasing the recruitment of speakers, speaking engagement of the bureau and ensuring the viability of the program beyond their leadership.” Another nominator wrote, “Romeo has dedicated much of their efforts to advocacy, especially for victim-survivors of sexual assault and other violence. Romeo has single-handedly taken their position to new, meaningful heights.”

Jackson also serves as director of Cultural Affairs for NIU’s Student Association. On a national level, Jackson serves on the Campus Pride Board of Directors.

DREAM ActionTamayo is undergraduate student pursing a bachelor of science in physical education with a minor in health education. He has worked with Affirmative Action and Equity Compliance since January of 2014.

According to his nominator, Tamayo has tried to involve himself and take on leadership roles in organizations that are pivotal in promoting a change for minorities at NIU, including the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, DREAM Action NIU and the Latino Student Alliance.

Rodriguez is an undergraduate student majoring in corporate communications.

His nominators indicate that he is a student leader who is able to motivate and encourage students, and that he “leverages the strength and excellent reputation that he has built with NIU’s teams and extended it to other students so that their experiences on campus become positive.”

Ogundipe joined the CHANCE program in July of 1999.

“Every year,” he indicated, “the cost of education is rising and consequently the need to apply for financial assistance continues to grow.” As a result of his dedicated and persistent help and support of students throughout the financial aid process, many have obtained the funding needed to complete their degrees at NIU.

LaVerne Gyant and Charles Ogundipe

LaVerne Gyant and Charles Ogundipe

Gyant’s nominators indicate that “she has been a timeless champion of diversity efforts and the improvement of the status of minorities on the NIU campus for many years.”

As the former director of the Center for Black Studies, “she has worked tirelessly to recognize and celebrate the special contributions of black people on our campus, in the larger society and the world.” One nominator wrote, “I have been most impressed by her empathy, compassion and pure joy in sharing in the lives of our students. They love Dr. G. as much as she loves and cherishes them.”

The presentation of the Deacon Davis Awards will begin at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom in the Holmes Student Center. The diversity summit, “Diversity: Men of Color on the NIU Campus and in the Community,” will follow. The awards ceremony will be preceded by a luncheon beginning at 11:50 a.m.

All are welcome to attend the luncheon and awards ceremony. For more information, contact PCSM Chair Felicia R. Bohanon at (815) 753-1868 or [email protected].