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Fourth Annual DEI Awards Announced

Wednesday, 05/20/2020

2020 UMSI DEI Award winners

The UMSI Diversity Awards each year recognize a student, a staff member and a faculty member who have had a positive impact on the school’s diversity, equity and inclusion [DEI] efforts. This year, the school’s DEI committee has selected PhD student Joshua Guberman, UMSI Career Development Coordinator Emma Frazier and lecturer Colleen Van Lent as award recipients. In addition, BSI student Somya Bhagwagar received the award for Gender and Diversity in Information and Technology. 

"In this fourth year of DEI Awards we again have an inspirational group of recipients whose DEI efforts cover a wide range of critical issues and have had a positive impact within our community and far beyond it,” said Judy Lawson, UMSI Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “My congratulations to each one of them, and I encourage all of us to let inspiration lead us to our own actions to make a difference and advance diversity, equity and inclusion."

In PhD student Joshua Guberman’s first two years at UMSI, he has advocated tirelessly for equity and accessibility at both UMSI and the U-M. He has particularly focused on elevating and emphasizing the voices of U-M’s disabled students in his role as Graduate Chair to the U-M office of Services for Students with Disabilities’ Student Advisory Board, and as the Doctoral Representative of the UMSI Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. He is also a member of Disability Culture at the University of Michigan and the Student Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Board. 

After attending a training last summer for working with DACA and undocumented students, UMSI Career Development Coordinator Emma Frazier was inspired to further explore the career needs of this population. She sought out resources and experts and collaborated with colleagues at the University Career Center and Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives to host a U-M Career Service Network meeting focused on supporting DACA and undocumented students in career services. Her efforts resulted in strategies for supporting these students, including a new DACA Student Resources page and a comprehensive guide of best practices for career educators to work with DACA and undocumented students. Once approved, the guide will be available online as a University-wide resource. 

In her SI 339 and SI 539 classes on Web Design, Development and Accessibility, UMSI lecturer Colleen Van Lent makes accessible website design a priority. She emphasizes to her students that accessibility is an essential component in any website and must be considered at each step of the design process. 

Somya Bhagwagar (BSI ’20) dedicated much of her time as an undergraduate at UMSI to providing a platform for fellow students of all backgrounds in her popular photoblog, Students of UMich. Her dedication to inclusivity and diversity was further apparent through her work as co-president of the Michigan Muscle Club. Through Somya’s efforts, the club went from having one woman member to having a near-even ratio of men and women. Her portrait series for Michigan Engineering, #HerEngineering, highlighted the diversity of thoughts, feelings and stories of women in engineering, as well as the underrepresentation and marginalization they face as a group. Her peers and professors at UMSI praised her dedication to inclusivity and to sharing outside perspectives both in and out of the classroom.

- UMSI News Service