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President's Award for Diversity

President's Award for Diversity


The President’s Award for Diversity is an initiative set forth by the university to recognize and reward a Western Kentucky University student or organization, employee, and a member of the community for contributing exemplary leadership and achievement in advancing diversity at Western Kentucky University or communities served by WKU. This award is intended to encourage creativity, dialogue, and action through advocacy, role modeling, scholarship, or service. The recipients of this award have demonstrated active participation in activities that promote diversity at Western Kentucky University and/or the communities it serves; have continually participated in activities that promote diversity and have demonstrated a commitment to promoting diversity; have engaged in efforts beyond the scope of their job title and responsibilities; and have encouraged and promoted diversity in various arenas/capacities.


The recipients of the President’s Award for Diversity are as follow:


John O’Connor - 2001 Employee Award 

Dr. John O’Connor epitomizes, both personally and professionally, the basic principle of equality among all peoples. He has continuously shown leadership in advancing the cause of diversity, in the area of diversity awareness and sensitivity, and has made a significant commitment to the cultural diversity cause since coming to Western. John O’Connor has backed up his beliefs through commitment and action. 

Dr. O’Connor has: 

  • Served as co-chair of the first Race Relations Task Force established in 1974.
  • Chaired the Concerns of Black Students Committee from 1978-1984.
  • Chaired the Implementation Plan for Minority Recruitment and Retention Goals in 1993.
  • Co-chaired the Ethnic Relations Task Force in 1996.
  • Served as primary presenter of the Leadership in the 1990’s program on Minority Recruitment and Retention.
  • Served as one of Western’s institutional representative to the Council of Postsecondary Education’s Committee for Equal Opportunity Employment.
  • Set the standard for minority hiring in the 70’s and 80’s by hiring two African American faculty in his own department. This initiative was taken prior to the university’s commitment to such hiring.
  • Assisted and consulted with the division of Student Affairs in identifying strategies and initiatives designed to enable Western to more effectively recruit and retain minority students.
  • Helped to develop and implement the Junior Black Faculty Program and actively recruited participants.
  • Assisted with the Diversity in the Classroom project.
  • Spent his 2000 summer sabbatical studying and researching successful diversity programs at institutions of higher education in America.

John O’Connor has also been a catalyst for cooperative programs between university units to recruit minorities. His professional papers, presentations, and publications reveal numerous efforts to share with colleagues and to promote diversity in higher education.


Thomas Grinter - 2001 Student Award 

Thomas Grinter is a senior from Louisville, Kentucky. He began his career at WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY in 1996 and is graduating this Spring with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. Thomas is disabled with retinopathy, an eye disease, but has overcome his affliction and excelled beyond all expectations. He will be attending a theological seminary this Fall and plans to pastor a church. 

Thomas has been a strong advocate at WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY to ensure that it embraces and celebrates diversity among the student body. In addition, he has received various awards and honors, which acknowledged his leadership among the student body. To acknowledge his continuous efforts during his tenure at Western Kentucky University, Thomas was honored with the WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY Trailblazer’s Award for Leadership. 

In the area of student activities, Thomas created and organized the Minority Student Interest Committee of the Campus Activities Board. His diligent work on the Campus Activities Board increased the number of programs that are geared toward minority students’ interests while also increasing the number of minority participants on the Campus Activities Board. 

Thomas served on the Ethnic Relations Taskforce. His perceptiveness, input, and ideas in areas ranging from recruitment to social activities helped the Taskforce form 21 action items for Western Kentucky University. 

As a member of SGA, RHA, NAACP, Amazing Tones of Joy, Sons of Solomon, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Thomas has formed an important link between local businesses, churches, civic organizations, and students. He planned events, scholarship fundraising, service projects, and other activities that have afforded local residents and Western Kentucky University students opportunities to interact with individuals of diverse backgrounds. Thomas facilitated bringing a number of people across racial, socio-economic, and age barriers in order to experience the positive effects of unity and diversity. 

Thomas is motivated by a true love of service to all. He works tirelessly to improve himself and those around him and is always willing to help anyone in anyway he can.


Nathan Jordon - 2001 Community Award 

Nathan Jordon has made a significant contribution to Western Kentucky University and the community of Bowling Green in various capacities over the past 19 years. In his position as Center Manager with Western Kentucky University Campus Child Care, Nathan comes in contact with people of varying ethnic backgrounds, ages, and socio-economic status. He has often demonstrated his commitment by going beyond the call of duty and helping these individuals outside of his work hours. 

An example of Nathan’s commitment is exhibited in his assistance to a young couple expecting a child this past summer. They did not have an income, furniture, air conditioning, or food. Without knowledge of the couple’s identity, Nathan identified and contacted numerous resources to assist them. In a matter of days, they received furniture, air conditioning, food, and even items for the unborn child. 

Nathan has been a volunteer with Project: AIMS (Activating Interest in Minority Students) for over 10 years. He serves as a positive role model and mentor for the participants and often shares his own mistakes as well as accomplishments with them. 

In addition, he frequently creates community partnerships and volunteers his time for many organizations and charities such as Special Olympics, Multiple Dystrophy Association, Bowling for Kid’s Sake, Minority Student Support Services, and Habitat for Humanity. On several occasions, Nathan has delivered meals to senior citizens during the holidays, collected food and clothing for food banks, and assisted Western’s Residence Life division with the adoption of children for Christmas. 

Nathan’s favorite volunteer work is cooking for and providing meals for university students. He understands how hard it is being away from home and wanting a home-cooked meal. Therefore, he fills that void by inviting students of diverse ethnic backgrounds to his home for dinner monthly. Nathan has fed as many as twenty students at one of his sponsored dinners. 

Nathan is known for his flexibility, impartiality, and open-mindedness to diverse attitudes and beliefs. He has been active in promoting diversity and creating partnerships with people of all ages, from varied backgrounds, and in various environments.


Heather Crawford - 2002 Employee Award 

Heather Crawford is a Residence Hall Director with the Department of Housing and Residence Life. She is also completing her Masters degree in College Student Personnel. Heather has worked with a group of devoted students to found the Alliance and The Outlet. Alliance is a network of faculty, staff, and students on campus to provide support and education for students facing lesbian/gay/bisexual/ transgender/ questioning (LGBTQ) concerns. This organization is the first of its kind in Kentucky. The Outlet is a resource center designed to provide information and support to students, faculty, and staff facing LGBTQ issues. It provides programming, peer support, and referral assistance to university and community services.


Brian Moore - 2002 Student Award 

Brian Moore is a Western Kentucky University junior from Louisville. He is a print journalism major with a folklore minor and served as the editor of the College Heights Herald during the Spring 2002 semester. As editor of the Herald, Brian pushed the staff and the paper to address diversity issues in terms of story coverage and newsroom staffing. In terms of minority story coverage, Brian took a look back at how the Herald covered minority-related events on campus. After conducting an in-depth study, he outlined ways to recruit and retain minority employees for the Fall 2001and Spring 2002 semesters. Under his leadership, he stepped into uncharted territory when the Herald co-sponsored a forum on a new book about the “N word”; and published several stories in an effort to expand diversity such as a story about a white student who joined a predominantly Black fraternity; a two-story package that highlighted Jonesville, a black community removed for the university’s expansion; and a story of Western Kentucky University’s first black graduate. In addition, Brian compiled a diversity report, which assessed the present situation and offered recommendations for improvement. To sum up his work on diversity issues, Brian stated, “I believe the Herald has expanded its coverage of minority events this semester. But, we are nowhere near the point we need to be at in 2002. I’ll point out that this is not a problem unique to the College Heights Herald. Newspapers across the United States are trying to find ways to diversity their newsrooms as well. There is no quick-fix to this lack of diversity. It will take persistence and drive of someone very passionate about the issue. I am that.”


Stan Williams England - 2002 Community Award 

Stan England has spent his entire life involved with dealing with diversity on and off campus and doing his part for the good of the community. Mr. England, an alumnus of Western Kentucky University, is presently the Director of Public Relations and Community Service at Eagle Industries and the Director of the War Memorial for the Boys & Girls Club in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Since 1970, he has been involved and held leadership roles in several diverse organizations, which include the Kentucky National Guard Youth Camp, Warren County Cancer Crusade, Boys and Girls Club, United Way, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Bowling Green-Warren County Schools, and Western Kentucky University. In addition, he is the founder of BADGES (Be Against Drugs and Guns Entering Schools). He has received numerous honors and awards for his outstanding service to the Bowling Green-Warren county community.


Harold Little, Jr. - 2003 Employee Award 

Dr. Harold Little, a professor in the Accounting and Finance Department, has clearly made important contributions to increase diversity and multicultural understanding, by supporting extracurricular student activities and providing service to external groups that promote diversity in addition to being an outstanding teacher as well as engaging in research and scholarly activity. In the area of diversity initiatives, he helped to create (an currently works with) the American Accounting Association’s newest section, the Faculty Diversity and Initiatives Section. Dr. Little also serves as a Chairperson for the South-Central Kentucky Minority Economic Development Council and has initiated contact with accounting faculty in Mexico to create a faculty exchange program. He is also a charter member of the African-Hispanic-Native American Accounting Doctoral Student Association (a part of the KPMG Foundation Ph.D. Project), which focuses on increasing the number of minority faculty members with doctoral degrees in accounting. In the area of student support initiatives, Dr. Little works with Black Men at Western (a support /mentoring/retention group for black males at WKU), the African American Studies Program, and serves as an advisor to two organizations- Western’s chapter of the Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity and “What’s Up”, a multicultural, ethnically diverse discussion group.


Lakecia Shockley - 2003 Student Award 

Miss Lakecia Shockley, a recent graduate of Western Kentucky University, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcasting. She served as the host of New Horizon’s, a public service television program sponsored by the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission. As host, her topics included information and interviews about community events and other diverse topics that impacted our community such as Fair Housing, the Unity Alliance, and the International Fest. In addition, she works with a very diverse youth population at the Housing Authority of Bowling Green.


Abraham Williams - 2003 Community Award 

Mr. Abraham Williams has always been committed to addressing issues of diversity and holds a strong belief of “leveling the playing field”. He has served as the Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Bowling Green for eight years. In his tenure and through his leadership, he has received several accolades for his work with the community including the National 100 Best Award (2000) and the 2001 National Innovative Award. Mr. Williams has provided a variety of activities that promote diversity which include creating a learning partnership with Western Kentucky University’s Minority Teacher Recruitment program; serving on the Board of Directors for Bowling Green Municipal Utilities where he encourages and assists in the recruitment and retention of minority employees; serving as a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration; and developing the REACH HIGHER program and the WROTE Foundation which promote opportunities for the minority population. In addition, he initiated programs such as the Youth Sports Program which provides organized sports for children, Women in Construction, a mentoring program, Reach Higher Program, Homeownership program, and a Family Literacy program. Mr. Williams’ has been an advocate for diversity for many years through his volunteerism and programmatic initiatives and still works diligently to accomplish his goal of “leveling the playing field”.


Robert Adams - 2004 Employee Award 

Robert Adams is the epitome of Western Kentucky University. He has been at WKU for a total of 44 years and has been the publisher of six city newspapers. However, the newspaper that he is most proud of only publishes once a year, the Limited Edition. It is the newspaper published by the Western Kentucky University Minority Journalism Workshop. Thanks to Bob Adams, each summer approximately 25 minority students in the Kentucky regions attend a two week newspaper writing workshop at Western. It is designed to expose minority student to opportunities in journalism and to provide them with mentors who have been successful journalists. For twenty years, Adams has been committed to this workshop because he believes “we need, in every newsroom, to have a diverse staff. When you have a diverse staff, you have a newspaper that can accurately reflect your community.” Recently, Adams was the impetus for the WKU School of Journalism and Broadcasting to apply for a national grant to start a minority high school workshop for photojournalism. In twenty years, Robert Adams has trained 500 minority high school students in journalism. These students go on to study journalism at various universities throughout the country and the graduates of these journalism schools diversity the newsrooms of this country. Furthermore, these graduates become mentors and instructors for a new group of high school journalism students. As evidence of his respect and appreciation, in 1999, former students and colleagues started the Bob Adams Journalism Scholarship Fund. More than $19,000 has been contributed to date and awards a scholarship annually.


Mary Paola Cassana - 2004 Student Award 

Mary Paola Cassana is currently a full time undergraduate international student from Peru pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Administration. Since arriving at Western Kentucky University, she has been completely devoted to promoting diversity on and off campus through the founding of and active participation in activities and organizations that foster multi-ethnic awareness and understanding. Paolo is passionate about promoting her vision to enhance diversity service and education to meet the needs of diverse population, which is vital to the WKU “Hilltopper Family”. Since taking her first steps on “The Hill”, she has served as the founder and President of the WKU Latin America Student Association; in various leadership positions in the WKU International Student Club; as a volunteer Teaching Assistant to the University Orientation for ESLI students; a volunteer at the Office of International Programs, the office of Admissions, and Residence Life; a member of the Diversity Leadership Council; and a Spirit Master. In the community, she has served a volunteer and fundraiser with St. Jude Hospital and the Bowling Green International Festival; an interpreter for the Bowling Green Health Department, the Hispanic Health Fair (2000-2004), the Bowling Green International Center, the Family Enrichment Center, and the Refugee Center. Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, Paola graciously offers her language interpreting skills on campus and in the community. She volunteers her time as a Spanish instructor with the Bowling Green Police Department and other social agencies in addition to volunteering for various campus events and activities. Being honored with a WKU Hall of Distinguished Services Award in 2004 rewarded her efforts and enthusiasm. Paolo’s outstanding contributions and volunteerism show that she is selfless, energetic, and truly devoted to promoting diversity.


Alice Gatewood Waddell - 2004 Community Award 

Alice Gatewood Waddell has been at the forefront of embracing diversity for years at Western and in Bowling Green. Her first major occurrence began with being elected Homecoming Queen at Western Kentucky University, making her the first African American to hold this title. Since graduating from WKU, she has been an active member and a volunteer for the Society of African American Alumni. As a professional artist, she travels the world with her art but always takes time to share her talents with others. Alice has provided her artwork to people all over the world. Nonetheless, she has donated her celebrated artwork to several charity events and fundraisers at Western Kentucky University and to community groups. She takes time to go into the schools and work with community outreach groups to teach all students the importance of creativity, diversity, and the world of art. Alice has been a consistent volunteer for Project: AIMS, an outreach program for minority youth, the Housing Authority of Bowling Green, the Kentucky Museum, and many other community groups and projects over the years. Additionally, she served as the Director of the Minority AIDS Council in which she actively dispersed prevention knowledge and awareness about AIDS in our communities and on community’s campuses. In addition, she has served on the Martin Luther King Planning committee and the Women’s History Month Committee and for years and donated her time and efforts, in addition to the artwork, for Women’s History Month’s annual banquet. Alice is also a devoted member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, where she donates a lot of her time and effort to promote community service. Her efforts were rewarded in 2003 by being honored with a Jefferson Award. In addition to being a renowned artist, an advocate for diversity, a dedicated citizen, she is also a wonderful mother and devoted grandmother. Alice never turns anyone away when they are in need of her support. She is an enormous supporter of our community and Western Kentucky University.


John Bruni - 2005 Employee Award 

John Bruni, an Associate Professor in the Psychology department, is spearheading initiatives that have Western Kentucky University, the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), and all of Kentucky’s universities thinking differently about how to provide better ad more access to higher education for our state’s minority populations. Dr. Bruni was the lead in creating and organizing the Strategies for Change Conference in March 2005 and this first ever conference brought together individuals responsible for the recruitment, retention, and success of minority students from a majority of the postsecondary institutions in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Dr. Bruni’s efforts will have a lasting effect on the commonwealth as a whole. The conference will continue on at least a bi-annual basis to continue to focus of the Commonwealth’s efforts on the success of the minority student in Kentucky. 

A copy of Dr. Bruni’s presentation A Top Ten List to Close the Gap was requested by Dr. James Applegate, Vice-President of the Council on Postsecondary Education. One of his “top ten” to produce Key Indicator Report on the status of minority students as a minimum of a bi-annual basis is under serious consideration for implementation at the CPE. In addition, Dr. Bruni is a founding member of the Latino Professional Association for Higher Education in Kentucky.


Liz Thomas - 2005 Student Award 

Liz Thomas is currently a Liz is a junior at WKU seeking a degree in Biology. She has worked diligently to promote science motivation and confidence in middle school students of diverse populations which have documented achievement gaps and are underrepresented in science fields. This includes students of various ethnic backgrounds, low socioecomomic status, and low parental education attainment. She consistently donates a minimum of ten additional hours per week of her free time to promote science to these students. Liz demonstrates an outstanding and constant commitment to promoting diversity in the field of science, especially in preparing minority and disadvantaged youth. 

Liz also plays an integral role in demonstrating to youth that the sciences can be both educational and fun and in encouraging youth to consider and prepare for college enrollment and science careers. Her contribution impacts middle school students from different walks of life through her encouragement and interactive activities to show these students that science can be a career option although there are not many minorities involved. She also volunteered her time with the NAACP/NASA Math, Science, and Technology Saturday Scholars Academy, sponsored by the Office of Diversity Programs. She worked with about fifty participants in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades from the counties of Warren, Logan, Simpson, and Barren for two years. This academy integrated science, math, and technology activities, and uses an outreach component to address mentoring, tutoring, critical thinking, and parent participation to minority, rural, and disadvantaged students. 

Liz also conducts interactive lessons throughout the school year and into the summer that gives the Learning Center participants at the Housing Authority of Bowling Green specific scientific knowledge. The students truly enjoy this experience and rave about the learning experiences in which they participate on Friday evenings. When the kids see her they automatically ask “what kind of experiment are we doing today?” She fills them with confidence in their ability to take part in the science experiments through her warmth and upbeat personality. 

Liz offers opportunities for minority students to increase their knowledge, appreciation, and participation in the area of science through enrichment activities and support in her spare time. She is very dedicated to enhancing the science experiences of diverse populations and sees this mission as a way to increase their likelihood of success in life.


Michael Coleman - 2005 Community Award 

Michael Coleman, an alumnus of Western, has been at the forefront of embracing diversity for years in Bowling Green and at Western Kentucky University. As a teacher, he has twenty-seven years of experience in working with academically disabled, behavior disordered, and at-risk students while giving them a sense of accomplishment, purpose, and stability. In addition, he gives them the opportunity to explore post-secondary career choices. Michael also serves as a Minority Recruiter for the Warren County School system in which he works to increase the number of minority teachers in the school system, in turn, creating a more diversity staff to meet the needs of all students. He established and works diligently with the CADET program, which is a collaborative effort between the Warren County School System and Western Kentucky University to create a diverse teacher applicant pool for the Warren County School System. The Creating a Diverse Education Team (C.A.D.E.T) Mentoring sessions have been established to assist students with learning the essential aspects of the job search from faculty, staff and administrators from both Warren County Schools and Western Kentucky University. The goal is to ensure teaching opportunities for all qualified candidates. In only his second year, the CADET program has assisted five WKU students to successfully interview and get hired by the Warren and Simpson County Schools systems. 

In addition, he participates in several diversity conferences and workshops and also serves as a facilitator in the Warren County Schools Minority Mentoring Program. Michael has served as a mentor for minority students through Project: AIMS (WKU), the STEP UP program (WKU), and his church. He has also served as a member of the Diversity Committee at Western, President of the Society of African American Alumni and a member former member of the WKU National Alumni Board of Directors. Michael has received various recognitions for his work including Man of the Year (Phi Beta Sigma), Most Civic Minded (Delta Sigma Theta), 2001 Volunteer of the Year (WKU Alumni Association), and the Humanitarian Award (WKU Society of African American Alumni).


C.J. Woods - 2006 Employee Award 

C.J. Woods, the Director of Diversity Programs and Coordinator of Judicial Affairs, has been actively involved in minority student recruitment, retention, and programming as well as encouraging our minority students’ academic preparedness and personal growth. During his tenure as the director, he has been a teacher, an advocate, and a mentor for many minority students as well as a supporter to numerous faculty and staff members. His contributions expand across many areas at Western and in the community. He tirelessly works to promote diversity and to educate our communities about all components and issues related to promoting an environment of acceptance. Some of the activities in which he participated to advance diversity include serving as the WKU institutional representative to the Committee on Equal Opportunities (CEO) for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education in which he addresses diversity and institutional climate issues; serves as the chairperson of the Diversity Enhancement Committee and a member of the Kentucky Plan Task Force; co-coordinates the CADET program (Creating a Diverse Education Team) with Warren County Schools to promote diversity in teaching; and served as the 2005 Chairman for the WKU United Way Campaign in which he surpassed 2004 campaign goal by raising $61,300 from WKU employees and students. Additionally, he serves the Bowling Green community by serving on numerous boards. His most recent involvement was with the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission and the Citizens Police Advisory Board. C.J. has also contributed to promoting diversity and enhancing programmatic efforts to increase awareness of and appreciation for diversity by establishing the Office of Diversity Programs Student Abroad Scholarship to increase minority representation in international programs and his/her appreciation of a global society. Furthermore, he has served as the President of the WKU Society of African American Alumni and the Kentucky Association of Blacks in Higher Education (2002-2004), as a member of the Planning Committee for the Strategies for Change Retention Conference, and has conducted numerous diversity training workshops for faculty, staff, and students at Western and the surrounding communities. C.J. Woods is always willing to accept new challenges and opportunities that will allow him to further promote diversity and student success. Furthermore, his work speaks volumes about his commitment to diversity.


Michelle Bell - 2006 Student Award 

Michelle Bell, an honor student, is a junior at Western Kentucky University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate and Organizational Communication with a Marketing Minor. She has consistently proven that she is truly dedicated to her community, diversity, and has demonstrated outstanding contributions as well. She is a very active member of the Western community. She presently serves as the President of the NAACP- WKU College Chapter. During her tenure, she has coordinated viable programming, which includes such topics as stereotypes entitled It’s Not What You Call Me, But What I Answer To which dealt with stereotypes for minorities; The ‘N’ Word, Black, African American: Which One Are You, which focused on a fruitful discussion about the changes of African Americans over the past years and the image of African Americans; and Black History Month Programming that focused on awareness. In addition, she completed Phase I and Phase II of the Dynamic Leadership Institute, served as the Public Relations Chairperson of the Black Student Alliance, serves as a member of the Student Volunteer Bureau, and as a member of Street Team, an event planning cohort for Niteclass (a student activities facility at Western). Michelle also spearheaded the organization of NAACP week at Western Kentucky University. She has also served as volunteered with the Office of Diversity Programs, served as a Western Leader, and dedicates her time to the Young Readers Club, which reads to children at schools from first to third grades in Bowling Green. Michelle gave up her Fall Break to travel to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina and her Spring Break to help others who were devastated by disaster to volunteer her time with relief efforts. Michelle truly displays a sense of duty to help diverse individuals and is always positive and giving in all she does. Furthermore, she is an intelligent young lady and an advocate for giving back to our community. Her outlook on life is that strong relationships with family and community can build a foundation for everyone, especially in times of need.


Linda McCray - 2007 Community Award 

Linda McCray, the Executive Director for the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission, has a long standing commitment to civil rights and equal opportunity. Her passion began with her work on the Rincon Indian Reservation in Southern California during the 1980s where she worked Native American children. After moving to Bowling Green, she became an active community member. She has volunteered with the Networking Women, the Citizens Advisory Board for the Bowling Green Police Department, Western Kentucky University, and the Southern Kentucky AIDS Awareness program. She also serves on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee, the NAACP’s executive committee. Furthermore, Linda worked as a case worker and volunteer coordinator/ESL instructor for the International Center. Most notably, she has made a significant impact during her tenure at the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that all citizens of Bowling Green receive fair treatment and equal opportunity in the areas of housing, employments, and public accommodation. Linda also formed the Unity Alliance which is comprised of local organizations, government officials, community members, and business owners to address “issues in our community” before they become “problems in our community.” In her work on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee, she directed the Women/Men of Distinction calendar project which not only provides monies to support the holiday’s events, but also provides local role models for students in the city schools by scheduling the calendar participants to speak to students about his/her personal stories of success. Additionally, Linda works vigorously to acknowledge the many contributions women have made in our community with the Women’s History Month Celebration event sponsored each March.


Jane Olmsted - 2007 Employee Award 

Jane Olmsted is an Associate Professor in the English department and the Director of the Women’s Studies Program. Jane is privy to the issues of diversity and brings it into the Women’s Studies Program and her classroom just by the books she chooses for her courses, the speakers that she chooses to bring to campus, and the issues about which she is passionate. She actively participates in programs that bring diversity to campus, and she has created programs and activities whose fulcrum is diversity. Jane has participated in the celebration of Black History Month for many years. She has attended marches and lectures that are offered in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, but she wanted to do more and to contribute somehow. Two years ago, she came up with an idea of a film series that would run throughout the month of February. Her idea was that, through the medium of film, little-known pieces of Black history and biographies of influential Black Americans could be brought to light and serve as icons for education and awareness, change, diversity, and activism. For two years now, the Black History Month film series runs throughout the month of February, with each of the chosen films being shown at two venues at varied times in an effort to reach as many students as possible. Last year, Jane headed up an ad-hoc English Department committee to address diversity. This resulted in a “read-out” of Black literature, a flyer highlighting English courses that include diversity, and initiated a conversation about how to work with other units to improve outreach to African American students. During the “read-out,” she set a podium and microphone in Garrett Conference Center. Volunteers chose material from their favorite Black authors and read those pieces. Volunteers’ pieces that related to diversity were also welcomed and encouraged. Furthermore, she designed a new course, Multicultural Literature last year. Her autobiography course has counted as Category E for about 8 years. These are two of three Category E courses in English. The crème de la crème of Jane’s activities has been three years in the making. After attending an event at Berea College, she returned all excited and enthusiastic about a summer camp for low-income women and their children. If Berea could do it, so could she. She didn’t know where to begin, but after months of planning, questioning, meetings, and plain old soul-searching, the plans were in the making for a weeklong summer camp intent on exposing indigent women and their children to self-empowerment and life-long learning in a higher education environment. Single, Black women comprise a large percent of the low-income women in this area. Jane put in countless personal hours in search of funding and creative projects/instructors, planning food, planning spaces, planning activities, and gathering volunteers to help with this enormous undertaking. A great result of her effort is that three of the women have registered and are taking classes at Western. One those women gave a motivational speech at this summer’s camp. One of the women, a 2006 participant, has the following to say about the camp: 

Before I went to this camp I was down on my luck. I stopped believing in myself. While attending camp I listened to other stories just like mine, and they made it. They became more. So it made me want more for me and my children…. After camp I decided to go back to school. I’m majoring in photojournalism, and I really enjoy it. I also try to find the time to write in my journal. I would like to thank all the women who inspired me to start believing in myself again.” 

Dr. Jane Olmsted doesn’t “work at” diversity—she insists on celebrating it every day. Actions do speak louder than words. Jane Olmsted’s actions speak volumes.


Ameerah Cetawayo - 2007 Student Award 

Ameerah Cetawayo, a graduate student, embodies diversity. She is an African American woman, who was raised Muslim, converted to Christianity as a teenager and speaks Spanish and Japanese. Also, she has a specific philosophy of diversity. “I believe that diversity is more than one's race or gender and that we have to reach beyond the comforts of our own culture and take the time to appreciate and understand the cultures of others, especially if we claim to be ‘educated’," Ameerah said. ”I leap at the chance to help others. I enjoy mentoring, furthering the efforts and enriching the lives of people I can help because I realize I am so blessed,” she added. 

Ameerah helped revitalize Western Kentucky University's Minority Communicators, an organization for students of color within the School of Journalism and Broadcasting that had been inactive for more than a decade, and acted as president of the organization. In addition, she gives back every year to the WKU Journalism Workshop for minority students. She speaks to the high school students about what it means to be successful as a journalist in a diverse society. 

For the past two years, Ameerah has acted as a mentor for Freshman Experience classes focused on students within the School of Journalism and Broadcasting. She also has sat on committees for the Honors Program, socio-cultural and academic success committees for Housing and Residence Life. She graduated cum laude from the WKU Honors Program. 

As a newspaper and broadcast journalist, she has diversified news coverage to be more inclusive. Specifically, she said she is very sensitive to how Muslim Americans are portrayed in the media. As an undergraduate, she has been an award winning reporter and anchor on the student television newscast, which airs live on the campus residence-life cable channel. 

Her first job post-undergrad was as the anchor for "New Horizons" a public affairs talk show program that aired on WBKO-ABC that addressed minority issues and as the public affairs intern for the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission. She also acts as the public service announcement spokesperson for the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission. 

Ameerah is currently the business reporter for the Daily News, and weekend/fill-in anchor for WKCT-AM. She has taken every opportunity to make her educational experience the very best possible, including a semester of study in Japan and England, where she studied journalism in both places. At the end of her email, Ameerah quotes Langston Hughes, “I will not take ‘but’ for an answer.” When it comes to the promotion of diversity, Ameerah will not take “but” for an answer.


Maxine Ray - 2007 Community Award

Mrs. Maxine Ray has contributed to the diversity of the Bowling Green community by being a folklorist and historian with the Jonesville Community Awareness project as well as serving as a facilitator for presentations about Jonesville.  She donated memorabilia from Jonesville to the Kentucky Museum and has also created a scholarship in memory of Jonesville which will be issued by the Folklore Department.  Presently, she working on a manuscript about the history of Blacks in Warren County and conducting interviews to document the history of other counties in Kentucky.  She also was a contributing author for the 50 Years of Integration Commemorative Book.

Maxine is the president for the Center for Community and Family Initiative which is a mentoring program for children and she is currently in the process of establishing a summer program to teach foreign languages, advanced math, and host other activities for children.  In addition, she works with the Mayor and the Human Rights offices to insure that her activities are in line with the city’s plans.  Maxine is also the Vice President with New Era Planning and she is on the committee for the Shake Rag revitalization project.

Mrs. Maxine Ray has contributed to the diversity of the Bowling Green community by being a folklorist and historian with the Jonesville Community Awareness project as well as serving as a facilitator for presentations about Jonesville. She donated memorabilia from Jonesville to the Kentucky Museum and has also created a scholarship in memory of Jonesville which will be issued by the Folklore Department. Presently, she working on a manuscript about the history of Blacks in Warren County and conducting interviews to document the history of other counties in Kentucky. She also was a contributing author for the 50 Years of Integration Commemorative Book.

Maxine is the president for the Center for Community and Family Initiative which is a mentoring program for children and she is currently in the process of establishing a summer program to teach foreign languages, advanced math, and host other activities for children. In addition, she works with the Mayor and the Human Rights offices to insure that her activities are in line with the city’s plans. Maxine is also the Vice President with New Era Planning and she is on the committee for the Shake Rag revitalization project.


Download the President's Diversity Award Recipient list

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 Last Modified 9/24/14