College of Agriculture and Life Sciences announces annual diversity awards
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Diversity Council recognized four individuals for their dedication to diversity and inclusion in their departments and their communities.
Each year, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of its students and faculty in the core area of diversity and inclusion.
The Diversity and Inclusion Service Award was established in 2006 as the Diversity Enhancement Award, and in 2013, separate categories for faculty, staff, and students were created. The service award for graduate students is named the Randolph L. Grayson Outstanding CALS Diversity Scholar Award.
The awards recognize the outstanding diversity and accomplishments of faculty, staff, and students in the college and include a letter of commendation, a plaque, and a monetary award of $500.
“Each of these recipients represented an amazing commitment to helping improve the departments and communities in which they reside,” said Erin Ling, chair of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Diversity Council. “The Diversity Council is appreciative of the continued support that we receive to recognize these outstanding individuals in 2021.”
Renata Carneiro, who earned her Ph.D. in food science and technology in 2021, received the Randolph L. Grayson Outstanding CALS Diversity Scholar Award. She promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus and advocated for Latinos and international communities. She often participated in workshops, seminars, and discussions relevant to the inclusion of underrepresented students, and raises awareness of critical issues, such as housing, transportation, work-life balance, and financial and mental health, that are critical to international students.
Over the past three years, Carneiro served on the leadership board of two Latinx student organizations at Virginia Tech: the Brasil Club and the Latin American and Iberian Graduate Students Association. She served as president of the Latin American and Iberian Graduate Students Association from June 2019 until graduating. She has actively worked on the inclusion of Brazilian students into the Virginia Tech community and under her leadership, both the association and club organized several events and also supported events and activities organized by El Centro and Cranwell International Center.
“Renata is a student leader that embraces VT Principles of Community and actively advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus,” said Sean O’Keefe, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology. “Renata is an outstanding graduate student who represents Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) beyond the department, college, and university walls.”
The three faculty and staff winners of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Service award are Chloé Lahondère, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry; Sarah Misyak, a research assistant professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise; and Tiffany Drape, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education.
In her time in biochemistry, Lahondère established a departmental Diversity and Inclusion Committee in 2018.
“She promised that the group would plan and implement impactful activities,” said Glenda Gillaspy, head of the Department of Biochemistry. “She has done extremely well with this promise and her leadership of this group has transformed how we function as an academic unit, and as a community.”
Misyak has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, ensuring that the Family Nutrition Program meets its mission of serving all Virginians and challenges her students to think about these topics in her Community Nutrition class, and works to ensure that the topics of diversity and inclusion are always included in the Family Nutrition Program’s decisions.
“Sarah has worked tirelessly to push through changes so that the program’s evaluation methods meet the needs of Family Nutrition Program’s diverse statewide participants,” said Meredith Ledlie Johnson, the policy, systems, and environmental change programming coordinator for the Family Nutrition Program. “These changes have been small, such as including an option for capturing non-binary gender identification on program participant forms, to large, such as overseeing an accessibility audit of the program and also conducting a racial equity audit of the program.”
Drape’s long-term work in this area has been an important component for outreach during the past 18 months. She has provided workshops, curriculum content, and mentorship for faculty and graduate students at Virginia Tech.
“I don’t know that any faculty member has had as broad of an impact on campus and in national organizations during the last 18 months as Dr. Tiffany Drape,” said Tracy Rutherford, head of the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education. “This award recognizes excellence in promoting Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community through understanding, appreciating, and advocating for diversity issues. Dr. Tiffany Drape embodies that excellence and deserves to be recognized by the CALS Diversity Council for her selfless work to improve the world around her.”