Yalana B. Bryant, assistant director for diversity initiatives at Virginia Tech's Office of Undergraduate Admissions, recently received this year's American Association of University Women (AAUW) of Virginia's Education Advocate of the Year Award at a ceremony in Roanoke, Va.

“Yalana was honored for her efforts in coordinating programs geared toward underrepresented groups at Virginia Tech,” said Rosemary Plum, co-president of the association.

“It was evident to the selection committee, that her caring and nurturing spirit allows her to connect with families of various backgrounds. Also, Yalana’s initiatives show the passion she has for encouraging students of diverse communities to seek higher education.”

Bryant was nominated by the Virginia Beach branch of the Virginia American Association of University Women. According to the branch representative, Tammie Mullins-Rice, Bryant shows young people and their parents that attending a four-year college is possible. “She takes a personal interest in each student, providing guidance, support, and references.”

Bryant was chosen to receive the Education Advocate of the Year Award from among 30 nominees throughout the state of Virginia.

“One of our goals as a university is to increase the diversity of the student body and provide educational experiences that will enhance students’ multicultural awareness,” said Mildred Johnson, acting director of undergraduate admissions, Virginia Tech.

“We value Yalana’s assistance in helping us achieve that goal by reaching out to underrepresented groups, which include minorities and first-generation students, and helping them with their transition from high school to our four-year institution,” said Johnson.

Bryant’s nearly 10 years of experience in higher education has been dedicated to underrepresented students and their families, focusing on creating greater access to college. She began her career in higher education in 2000 at Michigan State University as a student support specialist, where she earned university-wide recognition for excellence in diversity and national recognition for award-winning programs in student retention. In 2004, Bryant returned to her alma mater, Hampton University, to serve as an academic coordinator and counselor; a lead advisor; and an interim director of the Student Counseling Center prior to joining Virginia Tech in 2005.

Bryant holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hampton University and a master’s degree in social work from Michigan State University.

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