Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Excellence Honored at Rock Valley College's 3rd Annual Eagle Awards

Rock Valley College celebrated its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility on Friday, April 26, 2024 at the 3rd Annual Eagle Awards for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Excellence.

Eagle Awards 2024

2024 Eagle Award Recipients

Ten individuals and two are organizations were recognized at the event.  These accolades shine a spotlight on remarkable achievements across various categories, including Student, Faculty, Staff, Community Partner, and Distinguished Service.

"At Rock Valley College, our dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) echoes the resilience of our championship-winning women's basketball team," remarked Mr. Keith Barnes, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. "Just as closely examining their record unveils their true excellence, let's thoroughly check the record on our DEI initiatives."

Mr. Barnes illustrated many examples of RVC’s DEI initiatives, citing a year marked by active promotion of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility through a myriad of events and presentations engaging staff, faculty, students, and the community. Standout endeavors included:

  • The inaugural Fall Neurodiversity Symposium was a part of the DEI offices efforts this year to shed a light on neurodiversity at RVC;
  • The Poverty Simulation in collaboration with The Hunger Coalition allowed members of the RVC community to experience what life in poverty is like; and
  • Aspire New Student Orientation sessions to help underserved students transition to student life at RVC.

The commitment to DEI was reinforced by a campus climate surveys in fall 2023 for employees and spring 2024 for students. Both surveys had significant participation from employees and students. The survey highlighted a positive inclusivity rating, underscoring our dedication to fostering a welcoming environment. Moreover, students from diverse backgrounds demonstrated active engagement both inside and outside the classroom.

The awards ceremony culminated with the tradition of celebrating and spotlighting DEI endeavors at RVC as individuals and organizations were honored with an Eagle Award of Excellence.

Outstanding Student: Recognizing exceptional contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts through active promotion and participation in on and off-campus programming.

  • Gianna Lobato
  • Jazmine Nathan
  • Nori Barnes

Outstanding Staff: Commending individuals demonstrating a steadfast commitment to fostering an inclusive community.

  • Christopher Brady
  • Lamis Diab
  • Cierra Morris

Outstanding Faculty: Celebrating champions of diversity, equity, and inclusion within and beyond the classroom during their tenure at RVC.

  • Brian Wagner
  • William “Bill” Isham
  • John Skupien

Outstanding Community Partner: Highlighting individuals or organizations integrating DEI principles within their mission and practices, with a proven track record of collaboration with RVC to enhance access and opportunities reflective of the served community.

  • Get Connected, Tretara Flowers
  • Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity

Theresa Paulette Gilbert Distinguished Service Award: This distinguished accolade, chosen by PAIC leadership, honors a commitment to social justice through acts and advocacy.

  • Dr. Amy Diaz

Dr. Amy Diaz was recognized for her work in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion during her years at RVC. She was a founding member of the PAIC committee in 2008 and continues her efforts as president of Gateway Community College in Phoenix, AZ.

One nominator wrote: “Amy Diaz was an incredible asset to RVC during her years here. All who knew Amy respected her and knew that she was a trustworthy ally for students, staff, faculty, and our community. Amy was one of those rare leaders who was able to bridge the gap between administration and those of us with "boots on the ground" -- she always saw her responsibility as making the institution work for others. Without her leadership, PAIC wouldn't have got off the ground with such a solid foundation. I personally learned so much about how to be an ally and leader from Amy.”

All honorees received a heartfelt message alongside their award, acknowledging their role in fostering a sense of belonging within the community and encouraging continued advocacy and impact.

Congratulations to all our esteemed award recipients!