Social justice, intercultural awareness and fostering positive relationships are significant reasons why diversity is vital to the campus community at The University of South Dakota. Individuals demonstrating these exceptional characteristics were honored on campus at an event sponsored by the USD Office of Institutional Diversity and the Campus Diversity Enhancement Group (CDEG).
The 2010 Diversity Awards were awarded to staff members and a second-year law student during the Office of Institutional Diversity's annual program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Nominations were provided by all members of the University community to recognize outstanding leadership in diversity and cultural awareness.
The Dream Catcher Award, presented annually to an individual or individuals – through deeds or actions – who represent the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including social justice, equality and the preservation of Dr. King's "dream," was awarded to Jacquie Lonning, coordinator of academic engagement, Center for Academic Engagement at USD.
Lonning has served as coordinator of academic engagement since 2003. She works diligently with USD's IdEA Program, service-learning projects, undergraduate research and serves as an adviser to the Alternative Week of Off-campus Learning alternative break program. A graduate of Buena Vista University, Lonning is an active volunteer in the local and national communities, including the Welcome Table in Vermillion, Sharing the Dream in Guatemala and as a Caring Clown at nonprofit events locally.
The Viva la Difference Award recognizes a Career Services Employee who supports and fosters diversity on the USD campus. Linda Anderson, senior secretary for Academic Advising is the 2010 recipient. Anderson, who began working in the Admissions Office at USD in 1992, was born in Wagner, and graduated from Vermillion High School. After living in cities like Seattle, WA, and Omaha, NE, for a total of 10 years, Anderson returned to the Vermillion area where she has resided with her husband of 29 years, Richard. In 1998, Anderson moved over to Academic Advising where she assists with everything from coordinating the department's budget to assisting students with transfer requests.
The Rosa Louise Parks Award, awarded each year to a student who contributes to intercultural awareness, supports diverse activities and demonstrates positive interactions with others, was presented to Lonnie Wright, a second-year student at the USD School of Law. Wright, who grew up on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in Ridgeview, is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
A graduate of Dupree High School, Wright received his bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. As a student at the School of Mines and Technology, he was actively involved as the president of SDSM&T American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce and with community outreach programs. Following graduation from SDSM&T, Wright earned a master's degree in public administration from USD and was also admitted to USD's School of Law.
While at law school, Wright has quickly obtained several leadership roles within the student organizations on campus, including president of the Native American Law Students Association, treasurer for the Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity and president of the Law School Democrats.
Award recipients are presented with a certificate and a gift of $50. Recipient of the Dream Catcher Award also receives a unique work of art.