LGBT Resource Center Presents Class of 2013 Foundation Awards
The LGBT Resource Center within the Division of Student Affairs at Syracuse University has announced the recipients of its 2013 Foundation Awards, who were honored at the Rainbow Banquet on April 18. As a group, the winners represent the innovative and enduring spirit that is demonstrated through their contributions to the places they learn, live and work. Individually, they represent commitment, perseverance, passion, dedication and possibilities.
The Foundation Awards were established in 2003 to recognize individuals who, through personal or professional life and work, have positively improved or contributed to LGBTQ communities in a significant way. The 2013 award recipients join a prestigious group of previous winners, serving in past and future leadership positions, who have made Syracuse University, the Syracuse community and the world a better place for all.
Nominations came from SU students, faculty and staff, as well as from the LGBT Resource Center’s community partners in the city of Syracuse. The Foundation Award selection committee was comprised of Tiffany Gray, associate director of the LGBT Resource Center; Tim Huynh, undergraduate student and student staff assistant; Lindsay Ferguson, graduate student, intern at the LGBT Resource Center and graduate assistant in the Office of Judicial Affairs; and Joe Goings, graduate student, intern at the LGBT Resource Center and graduate assistant in Student Centers and Programming Services.
2013 Foundation Award Recipients
Outstanding Community Youth Member: Deqwan Green has unequivocally contributed significantly to the greater Syracuse queer community. He has been an active member at the Q Center and serves on the Q Center’s Youth Advisory Board as a representative from the LGBTQ Youth & Allies group. Additionally, he readily accepts any opportunity to share his knowledge and experience, such as making a guest appearance on Contact’s Teen Talk radio show and speaking as a panelist at SU’s Life Gets Better Together Conference. Green also serves as president for the Gay Straight Alliance at the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central School District.
Outstanding Community Member: Laura Serway and Cindy Seymour are two strong women who give tirelessly to the Syracuse LGBTQQA community and the Syracuse community as a whole. They have had several successful businesses in Syracuse and are currently the owners of Laci’s Tapas Bar and other properties in the Hawley Green District. Serway and Seymour are avid supporters of AIDS Community Resources and the Q Center. When they learned that the Q Center was in need of a new kitchen, they were eager to assist and donated a new kitchen for the center. Serway and Seymour also assisted with the development of the Eddie’s Future Greatness Fund, a scholarship designed for college-bound Q Center youth and to pay for emergency needs of youth, to honor the memory of their dear friend Eddie Kirsteins. Following Hurricane Sandy, they decided to reach beyond CNY to help those in need. They ran a food and clothing drive out of Laci’s parking lot and gathered needed supplies to assist those who were devastated by the storm. Serway and Seymour do not seek the limelight for their actions, but wish to be strength and resource to those who need assistance.
Outstanding Campus Organization: The OutCrowd Magazine is the only LGBTQ-focused publication on SU’s campus. The OutCrowd strives to represent the complexities of the LGBTQ community and to advocate for equality. Each article is carefully chosen and edited in order to ensure accurate representation of all people and identities involved. Writing stories like last semester’s article about queer representation in comic books and this semester’s article that reveals the problematic images of trans* people portrayed by favorite childhood movies, challenges students and faculty to question heteronormativity. Through its dedication to continued knowledge of the LGBTQ community, The OutCrowd lives up to its mission statement. The OutCrowd’s focus is to provide advocates of the queer community a platform to express their otherwise overlooked opinions and perspectives. With this focus in mind, The OutCrowd is determined to present progressive content through a queer lens by challenging what is often deemed ‘socially acceptable.’
Outstanding Faculty Member: Melissa Luke, in the counseling world, is known internationally as a tireless, unflappable superhero for the LGBTQI community. In the last four years, Luke has published more than 10 scholarly works focused on deconstructing heterosexism and revolutionizing counseling experiences and opportunities for LGBTQI individuals in schools, colleges and across communities. With her frequent collaborator Kris Goodrich, Luke has created the “LGBTQ Responsive Model for School Counseling,” which has since been adapted for work in group counseling, group supervision and school counseling supervision. In addition to her writing, Luke is the co-chair of Safe Schools Task Force for the Association for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling and is actively working and researching to create transformative tools and trainings to better serve the needs of LGBTQI students. She is currently working on a grant (funded at $15,000) from the American Psychological Foundation to create Project SCENE: School Counselors’ Education, Needs and Experiences for LGBTQ youth.
Outstanding Staff Member Award: Jill Ouikahilo is a staff member of the Student Leadership Institute and director of communications for the Division of Student Affairs at SU, and has continually demonstrated herself as a strong and passionate advocate for the LGBTQA community. As a leader and mentor in SLI, she empowers and promotes diversity and dialogues among her students over discrimination and incorrect usage of terms and perceptions surrounding the LGBTQ community during SLI meetings. Ouikahilo has furthered her knowledge and understanding of Queer experiences by attending the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Creating Change Conference on LGBT Equality this year in Atlanta in order to bring her experiences back to campus and create a larger dialogue among her students and staff members in the SU community.
Outstanding Graduate Student: Jesse Paez has been tirelessly involved in the SU community since being matriculated in the Fall of 2011. He especially wanted to explore and understand the disparities for LGBTQ people of color as well his specific interest in the health of Latino LGBTQ males. He has spoken and given talks with both the SU community and the Greater Syracuse Community regarding therapy, being a proud person of color and being involved in the LGBTQ community. He also co-facilitates the Fusion Discussion Group, where he brings his sense of social justice and advocacy in every discussion.
Outstanding Undergraduate Student Awards:
Bryan McKinney currently works as a student staff member in the LGBT Resource Center, engaging in conversation with people who are new and returning to the LGBT Resource Center and offering a welcoming environment. McKinney also co-facilitates Trans*Cuse Discussion Group. He first got involved in Trans*Cuse during his freshman year of college and has been involved ever since. As a co-facilitator of the discussion group, McKinney helps guide discussions that the participants have and makes sure all students’ voices are heard. He has had to use his facilitation skills to help navigate conversations and to help students critically think about the intersectionality of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation, as well as various other identities. In January, McKinney was chosen to serve as a mentor for students going to the National Creating Change conference. As a mentor, he helped students navigate what workshops to attend and how to get the most out of the conference.
Rachael “Babyface” Card’s passion for leadership and LGBTQA community activism is phenomenal to witness. Her insights are always interesting and are highly valued by her peers, and she advocates for those around her as much as she can. As vice president of Pride Union, she organizes meetings every week, takes the time to engage everyone in the room, be it on the microphone in a room of 700 or in the Resource Center with a room of 15 people. She is one to speak her mind and is able to control the room when she needs to, and can do so in a manner that permits understanding rather than conflict, an important skill for any leader to possess. Card has also been involved in a number of activities outside of Pride Union. She has participated in the annual summer football skills academy, is a student supervisor at Pages Café and has been a mentor for the Student Leadership Institute, planning two conferences during her time. Additionally, as a student staff member in the LGBT Resource Center, Card is able to connect with students who visit the space. She is always open and welcoming, allowing students, faculty and staff to feel as though the Resource Center is a place that they can come to.
A list of past Foundation Awards recipients can be found here: lgbt.syr.edu/rainbowbanquet/past-recepients.html