Eighteen receive awards recognizing inclusive excellence

The Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement and the Graduate and Professional Student Diversity Council presented the 2024 Distinguished Awards at the Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Awards and Recognition Celebration on May 14 in G10 Biotech.

This annual event recognizes the excellence represented within the graduate community and celebrates students for demonstrating leadership and commitment to advancing efforts around diversity, inclusion, outreach, and student engagement.

“Each year we take this opportunity to celebrate the remarkable work being done in support of our aspiration of making Cornell a community of belonging,” said Sara Xayarath Hernández, associate dean for inclusion and student and faculty engagement. “I am very grateful for the incredible contributions being made by so many throughout the university.”

Faculty and staff were also recognized with awards for their unwavering commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion and promoting the personal and professional development of graduate and professional students. These awards include the Casey Moore Impact Award, previously the Unsung Hero Award, recently renamed to honor the contributions of retiring graduate field administrator Casey Moore and her numerous contributions to the Cornell graduate community.

2024 Award Winners:

  • Casey Moore Impact Award (the Unsung Hero Award): Jennifer Majka, visiting lecturer and director of diversity and inclusion for the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
  • Exemplary Leadership Award for Early Career Graduate Students: Camille Blevins, ecology and evolutionary biology doctoral student; Promise Ekpo, computer science doctoral student; Zong-Yan Liu, plant breeding doctoral student; and Augustus (Gus) Pendleton, microbiology doctoral student.
  • Exemplary Leadership Award for Advanced Career Graduate Students: Cátia Dombaxe, biomedical engineering doctoral candidate; Alex Pasqualini, music doctoral candidate; and Bianca Waked, philosophy doctoral candidate
  • Exemplary Service Award for Early Career Graduate Students: Odalys Callejas, geological sciences doctoral student, and Gemmechu Hassena, computer science doctoral student
  • Exemplary Service Award for Advanced Career Graduate Students: Thomas Jones, industrial and labor relations master’s candidate, and Michael Meneses, applied economics and management doctoral candidate
  • Faculty Champion Award for Early Career Faculty: Elizabeth Johnson, assistant professor of molecular nutrition, and Aditya Vashistha, assistant professor of information science
  • Faculty Champion Award for Advanced Career Faculty: Will Cong, associate professor of finance, Rudd Family Professor of Management, and department editor for management science; Michelle Crow, senior lecturer and director for the English Language Support Office; Kate Manne, associate professor of philosophy; and Scott Peters, professor of global development

“It is an honor to have been nominated and chosen as an Exemplary Leadership Award recipient,” said Alex Pasqualini, a doctoral candidate in music. “It’s been so nice to see that my work on campus has been recognized and appreciated by the people I am in community with, as well as to the broader Cornell community.”

The award felt like a recognition of how Pasqualini’s research, teaching, and community all relate, Pasqualini said, having been nominated by the Music Grad Association, LGBT Resource Center, and QGrads.

Gus Pendleton, a microbiology doctoral student and recipient of an Exemplary Leadership Award for Early Career Graduate Students, appreciated the acknowledgment of his work to create inclusive and supportive coding communities.

“This award is a huge validation of the work I’ve been doing, and I am so grateful and humbled that my colleagues and the Graduate School felt the same,” he said. “I genuinely love teaching others to code, and I am lucky that it is such a big part of my graduate journey.”

Students in attendance were also recognized for achievement in the areas of academics, funding, community service, and milestones and completion. Graduate School Deans’ Scholars and members of the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society and NextGen Professors Program were also acknowledged.

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