A photo of President’s Inclusive Excellence and Diversity Award recipients holding their awards with President Gloria J. Gibson (center) with Executive Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Shireen Roshanravan (far right).

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Northeastern Illinois University held its inaugural President’s Inclusive Excellence and Diversity Awards on April 27. The ceremony honored seven members of the Northeastern community who are significantly advancing the University’s goals in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion. Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Engagement at the University of Illinois Chicago Dr. Amalia Pallares delivered the keynote address. 

“The Award Selection Committee received close to 70 nominations detailing the breadth of NEIU talent and nominees’ heartfelt commitment to uphold and advance the University’s core values of equity, diversity and inclusion,” President Gloria J. Gibson said. “The Committee and I thank all who submitted a nomination and congratulate all nominees and awardees for fostering a culture of appreciation and inclusive excellence at NEIU and beyond.”

The awardees were:

  • Alvin Gutierrez (current student, Elementary Education, B.A.), co-president of Pin@y Club, president of the Student Advisory Board of the University Honors Program, and treasurer of the Student Government Association.
  • Itzel Linares (current student, Spanish, B.A.), president of Undocumented, Resilient and Organized, vice president of Student Government Association and the social media ambassador for Student Affairs. 
  • Maria Luna-Duarte, Ph.D., (B.A. ’02 Sociology, Women’s Studies minor; M.A. ’05 Educational Leadership), director of El Centro and adjunct faculty member for the ENLACE Higher Education Leadership Master’s Program. 
  • Rignesha Prajapati (current student, Educational Leadership, M.A.), ENLACE higher education leadership student, graduate assistant for Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Student Engagement in the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs, and is acting as the advisor of the South Asian Club.
  • David D. Robertson (B.A. ’16 University Without Walls; M.A. ’18 Community and Teacher Leaders), founder and executive director of the Hope Is Foundation. 
  • Paola Vargas (B.A. ’12 Interdisciplinary Studies and Spanish, M.A. ’16 Educational Leadership), assistant to the vice president and dean of students for Student Affairs.
  • Durene Wheeler, Ph.D., professor of Educational Inquiry and Curriculum Studies with core faculty appointments in African and African American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

The Spring 2022 Award Selection Committee members were:

  • Akua Cason (CCICS) 
  • Rob Cook (College of Business and Technology) 
  • Mimi Crespo (El Centro)
  • Stacey Goguen (College of Arts and Sciences) 
  • Edwin Medina (NEIU Student Government Association President)
  • Michelle Oh (NEIU Libraries) 
  • Irma Ortiz (Center for College Access and Success)
  • Anthony Rodriguez (NEIU Alumni Advisory Board President)
  • Shireen Roshanravan (Executive Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion)
  • Sharon Song (Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education)
  • Toni Scott (Office of the President)

Top photo (from left): David D. Robertson, Paola Vargas, Dr. Durene Wheeler, Itzel Linares, President Gloria J. Gibson, Rignesha Prajapati, Alvin Gutierrez, Angelica Rivera (standing in for Dr. Maria Luna-Duarte, not pictured), and Executive Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Shireen Roshanravan.  ​​