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Four Morris Students Receive Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity Award

Posted by Jenna Ray on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013

Four University of Minnesota, Morris students have received the 2013 Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) Award: Tiwaloluwa Ajibewa ’14, Saint Paul, Hazen Fairbanks ’14, Bemidji, Natasha Myhal ’15, Parma Heights, Ohio, and Mai Pa Tao Vang ’14, Walnut Grove. Sponsored by the the Office for Equity and Diversity (OED), the systemwide award honors and acknowledges diverse students doing outstanding work at the University of Minnesota, both in and out of the classroom.

Ajibewa, biology and French, understands “the importance of being committed to engaging with your community” and tries “to always keep in mind that life is complex.” He believes his “efforts can have a resonating effect in the lives of others,” which drives him to “help shape a community that strives for breaking down stereotypes and fostering dialogue between individuals where dialogue may never have existed.” When asked what the SEED Award means to him, Ajibewa says that “to be recognized as an individual who is committed to his community and diversity in every sense is quite an honor.”

Tiwaloluwa Ajibewa ’14

Fairbanks, psychology and liberal arts for the human services, believes that “if [she]want[s] to see active positive change in the world, [she] need[s] to be the one to stand up and work to make it happen.” A committed advocate for the issues and rights in which she believes, Fairbanks values an open-minded attitude and believes “everyone has something to teach [her]. Receiving the SEED Award makes her proud to be a Morris student, as she believes “there is no way that [she] could have achieved this accomplishment without [her] supportive, encouraging and influential campus community.”

Hazen Fairbanks ’14

Myhal, environmental studies and American Indian studies, strives to “become involved in her tribal community” and hopes “to continue to help tribes that have been faced with environmental justice issues” by becoming an environmental lawyer. Myhal believes receiving the SEED Award will enable her to “give back to [her] community that has given so much towards continuing [her] education.”

Natasha Myhal ’15

Vang, biochemistry, believes every obstacle she has encountered is a reflection of how much stronger she has become, and her experience as a Hmong American “established [her] commitment to studying hard every day and to supporting [her] community.” Believing she “was born to save lives,” Vang aims to “provide expertise and culturally relevant health care for Hmong families and others in rural areas.” Determined to “open a new world to others,” she calls the SEED Award “a golden key that [she] will utilize to unlock and open the pathway to various opportunities.”

Mai Pa Tao Vang ’14

The 15 University of Minnesota recipients will receive their awards at the annual Equity and Diversity Breakfast on Wednesday, November 13, at the McNamara Alumni Center on the Twin Cities campus.

The mission of the OED is to leverage the transformative power of equity and diversity to advance excellence in teaching, research and community engagement at the University of Minnesota. Additional information is available online.