2009 Social Justice Awards
19th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebratory Events
The UNH Student and Academic Services Diversity Team, in partnership with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee presented the 6th annual Social Justice Awards. These special awards honor UNH community members who have demonstrated excellence and integrity with respect to advancing social justice issues within our community and beyond.
Each year, one faculty member, one staff member, one graduate student and one undergraduate student are recognized for his or her role in providing outstanding leadership, courage and positive role modeling in promoting social justice issues such as diversity, equity, and human rights. Nominees are distinguished by qualities such as (1) depth and breadth of contributions, (2) impact on individuals, organizations, programs and policies; and (3) collaborative efforts. The following award recipients were honored at the Social Justice Award 2009 celebration.
Undergraduate Award Recipient
Derek Price is a senior Social Work major who promotes social justice as a student, as an activist and as a community member. Derek is involved in the UNH Peace and Justice League, the Committee on Rights and Justice, Progressive Students Exploring Beliefs and Spirituality, Friends of Forest Park, the Cornucopia Food Pantry, Waysmeet Community Dinners, and Drum Circles. He is also a SHARPP Advocate and has worked with SAGE, the Women’s Union, and Students for Choice on gender equity advocacy. His story is one of courage and perseverance, and advocacy for the poor and those in marginalized communities. He recognizes and explores his own privileges, and he also has an affinity and empathy for those who are not able to find their way in mainstream educational environments and is a mentor to local high school students. He is a true activist, organizer, and worker for social change.
Graduate Award Recipient
Heather is a doctoral student in the psychology department at UNH. Heather’s work as a student, as an instructor, and as a person reflects her deep commitment to think critically and lovingly in and out of the classroom. She has completed critical work as a researcher around topics of homophobia and heterosexism, and she is an advocate for gender equity with a special focus on transgender hate crimes and transphobia. She is a member of the President’s Commission on the Status of GLBT Issues and the Safe Zones Committee. She is currently collaborating on a project that will examine the impact of the Bias and Ally Galleries and on students’ attitudes and behaviors related to inclusion at UNH. Heather challenges fellow graduate students, colleagues and undergraduate students to always consider multiple, and underrepresented perspectives in the classroom. Promoting equity and social justice is in Heather’s fabric, as represented in her recent wedding where favors were replaced with notes that she and her partner donated money to Seacoast Outright, the NH Food Bank, and the American Cancer Society. She noted during the wedding that she felt very privileged to be getting married and she will continue to fight until marriage is no longer a privilege, but a right for everyone.
Staff Award Recipient
Ellen Semran, LGBTQ+ Coordinator at OMSA
Ellen is the LGBTQ+ Coordinator at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and is tireless in her efforts to promote social justice at UNH and within the seacoast community. Ellen is a member of the President’s Commission on the Status of GLBT Issues and she has re-developed and successfully implemented the largest Safe Zones program in the country. Ellen is one of UNH’s Social Justice Educators, she helped to create an “ally” program, and she also serves on the Board of Seacoast Outright. In a few short years, Ellen has impacted hundreds of UNH students and seacoast youth by offering support for students who occupy underrepresented social identities, and by also challenging students to identify the privilege they have and ways they can act as allies. Ellen courageously nudges staff and faculty at UNH to examine and change their practices to make them truly inclusive. Ellen is a wonderful role model, a skilled facilitator and promotes social justice with a contagious passion.
Faculty Award Recipient
Professor Carol Conaway
Dr. Carol Conaway came to UNH as a visiting scholar in 2002 and soon was a tenure-track faculty member jointly appointed in the Women’s Studies Program and the Department of Communication. Dr. Conaway also serves on the President’s Commission on the Status of GLBT Issues, has served on the Queer Studies Advisory Board, regularly teaches courses in Queer Studies, has been a member of the UNH MLK organizing committee and supported students who planned the first annual Black Family Weekend last year. In and out of the classroom, Dr. Conaway courageously demands that we “pay attention” no matter how uncomfortable we may be. In the classroom, the material Dr. Conaway teaches is academically demanding and relevant and she is consistently evaluated as one of the most excellent teachers in both departments she works in. She enables written and oral communication on difficult topics and is steadfast in ensuring that each student’s voice is heard. One student said, “The lens by which I view the world has been changed as a result of her teachings.” Dr. Conaway creates a space in her classroom for students to think beyond unjust cultural stereotypes and to embrace a more inclusive world view and enhanced critical thinking skills. Dr. Conaway is a true mentor to students and colleagues at UNH, and is a gentle activist, full of quiet strength and power.
Undergraduate Student Organization
UNH PowerVote/UNH PowerShift
The UNH PowerVote is a grassroots collaborative that grew out of a group called “NH Powershift” which aimed to register new voters and highlight environmental issues during the election season. UNH PowerVote was the most successful of all the PowerVote programs on campuses throughout the nation. They were completely non-partisan and offered each and every person kindness, good humor and encouragement so that students got involved in the US democracy through the fundamental act of voting. The work of UNH PowerVote does great honor to the civil rights movement and the work of Dr. King. Although the election is over, this group is not done yet. They are continuing their work at organizing for change and accountability for our newly elected officials. UNH PowerVote was one of the best organized, managed and implemented grass roots efforts on the UNH campus and they are truly making a difference in our community.
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