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2023 Multicultural Leadership Awards

2023 Multicultural Leadership Award Winners

Group Awards

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Outstanding Student Organization

Outstanding Student Organization Winner: Asian American InterVarsity

The 2023 winner for outstanding student organization goes to Asian American InterVarsity. AAIV has been a home for many as they navigate college. The organization has persevered through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to make an impact this year with their internal and external communities. They have long since created a safe space for Asian Americans to practice religion as well as guide students through their faith journey. Recently, AAIV has cultivated relationships with IMPACT and the Muslim Student Association. Asian American InterVarsity is intentional about maintaining an inclusive, multicultural environment by having foods from across the Asian diaspora, having worship in Spanish, and reaching out to other APIDA organizations to create a welcoming space.

Excellence in Social Justice

Excellence in Social Justice Winner: Mecha De UW Madison

The 2023 Excellence in Social Justice Award goes to Mecha de UW-Madison. Mecha, meaning “flame” in Spanish, excels in social justice for the Latine community and overall BIPOC community. Mecha de UW-Madison is credited with helping lead the movement that created the Chican@ & Latin@ Studies program that will be offering an undergraduate major for the first time in Fall 2023. This year, Mecha has worked diligently to educate the community and lead discussions about the future of both the Mecha house and Indigenous Student Center on Block 16. This organization is focused on self-determination and education. Mecha hosts art-based workshops led by either students or experienced artists to promote higher education, community engagement, political participation, culture, and history.

Unique Collaboration

Unique Collaboration Winner: MENA Heritage Month Collective

The MENAHM collective was a collaboration of 11 student organizations that came together under the leadership of MSC interns Dana and Haruka to bring forth an inaugural celebration of MENAHM on UW’s campus. As the first planning collective of a MENA heritage month on campus, this unique collaboration brought together five collaborative events and helped put together the first ever MENAHM Kickoff, Night at the Bazaar, attracting over 200 attendees. Night at the Bazaar was the first of its kind, bringing the community to enjoy 10 performances of traditional dance, poetry, spoken word, and much more. It also featured a dinner and activity booths that highlighted the shared heritage of MENA cultures from embroidery (Tatreez), henna, and calligraphy, to a MENA community mural. The MENAHM collective also brought to the community 5 collaborations including Art Night: Healing the MENA identity (led by Students for Justice in Palestine, Saudi Student Association, and Alpha Lambda Rho), Chai Chats: Diversity within our Identities (Middle Eastern Law Student Association, Turkish Student Association, Persian Student Society), Interfaith Iftar (Muslim Student Assocation, and the Center for Religion and Global Citizenry), Dabke Lesson (Arab Student Association and North African Student Organization), and Palestinian Plate (Alpha Lambda Mu, WUD-cuisine). These collaborations served as an integral part of MENAHM as these orgs helped lead the planning and logistical execution of these successful events, attracting over 700 attendees from the community. Organizations in the collective and as collaborators not yet named include, African Student Association, Bellydancing-UW, Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity in Engineering Student Center, and the WSB Multicultural Center. The integral work of the MENAHM collective leaders made the heritage month possible for the MENA community, and their contributions of time and energy into putting together these unique events has served our campus and created spaces for MENA students where they had not existed before.

Individual Awards

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Emerging Leader

Emerging Leader Winner: Haruka Padilla

This winner served as the first ever Multicultural Programming Intern at the Multicultural Student Center this past year. She made immense and impressive contributions to the MSC and our constituents. Haruka created new and engaging events like First in the Family and International Women’s Day that were highly successful thanks to her vision, event planning, execution skills, and collaborative, relational approach to program development. Haruka is deeply committed to listening to and identifying the needs of students. Her advocacy and allyship were critical to the revival of Middle Eastern North African Heritage or MENA Month. She helped plan and execute the month of programming. She brings a positive energy and a commitment to excellence to everything she does, it’s a joy to work with her!

Established Leader

Established Leader Winner: Dana Tabaza

Dana Tabaza was not only the inaugural MENA Programming Intern for the MSC and the MENA Heritage Month Co-Chair, but she is described by her nominators as an outstanding student, friend, leader, and pioneer for student advocacy and multicultural celebration. Dana saw a gap in programming and did everything in her power to fill it, to represent and include the long since underrepresented MENA voices. Dana assembled a collective of students passionate about the same mission, advocated for a budget of $15,000, and programmed 9 events that represented 22 countries and gathered a community of over 700 in attendance. She believes in the value that success is measured by is its ability to improve the well-being of a community and MENA Heritage Month was a great success to say the least. One of Dana’s nominators add, “These are the first steps to creating a legacy of true recognition,

inclusion, and celebration of the Middle Eastern and North African student population on the UW-Madison campus. It has been an honor to witness Dana’s leadership, to watch the effects of her efforts flourish, and to partake in her dreams. I cannot wait for the rest of her dreams and visions for our campus to come true.”

Campus Legacy

Campus Legacy Winner: Mae Hurtado-Thiele

Our first winner of the Campus Legacy award goes to Mae Hurtado-Thiele. Mae’s leadership on campus has made an enormous impact while still accomplishing an early graduation. Most notably, she created an outreach program based on her biochemistry research where she taught local Indigenous high school students about the risks of diabetes in minority communities using interactive experiments that showed to demonstrate the importance of good food on our bodies. Mae leads by example, serving as a mentor to aspiring youth through the Society of Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics in Science (SACNAS), she advocates for increased female representation volunteering with local Girl Scout troops, and she is the lead student researcher at the UW Missing in Action Project and founder of the RSO. Across all of Mae’s work, she amplifies the voices of those who have been silenced. 

Campus Legacy Winner: Rianna Mukherjee

The Campus Legacy award goes to Rianna Mukherjee. Rianna quickly got involved as the UW-Madison College Democrats Chair during the 2020 election where she retained hundreds of campaign volunteers by creating community through promoting interpersonal relationships and fun events. She was pivotal in allowing students to vote with an electronic Voter ID after noticing the previous voting barrier that limited students to only using a physical one that could only be acquired from the Wiscard Office at Union South. As the Student Services Finance Committee or SSFC Vice Chair, Rianna allocated over $50 million in segregated student fees, saved students hundreds of thousands of dollars by convincing Chancellor Blank to delay a 1% assessment fee, served on two Search and Screen Committees, chaired the Student Transportation and RecWell Boards, and mentored several SSFC members. She grassroots organized with Project 72 Wisconsin directly resulting in a higher college student voter turnout in Wisconsin in the 2023 general election. Rianna has an exemplary record of leadership, service, and commitment to the University.

Outstanding Student Organization Leader

Outstanding Student Organization Leader: Ebonie Reavis

The winner of the 2023 Outstanding Student Organization Leader is Ebonie Reavis. Ebonie’s nominator shared the following statement, “Ebonie founded the Unit.E dance crew on campus to address discrepancies and microaggressions experienced in the dance community regarding how people of color and underrepresented communities were treated. She has spent many hours and late nights working on creating a safe and open space for everyone to enjoy, researched the cultural and spiritual significance of different dances and styles, created an executive board internship program to teach young aspiring leaders about how to lead a student organization, scheduled consistent practices and community workshops, and focused on providing a meaningful experience for the students of color and underrepresented community. All of this while working on a demanding schedule for an Electrical Engineering degree. She is an inspiration for other Black and underrepresented STEM students on campus to show how their culture and dances can be celebrated and uplifted at all times.

Social Justice Initiatives Leader

Social Justice Initiatives Leader: Ciboney Reglos

This year’s winner is Ciboney Reglos. Ciboney is an exceptional leader on our campus that places social justice as a top priority. This year she served on the executive board as the Vice President of the Filipinx-American Student Organization. Ciboney has participated in multiple workshops in order to gain a greater understanding about varying topics that are important to communities of color. In these, she is always open to sharing concerns on behalf of her student organizations and creating solutions to bring back to her members. Ciboney does exceptional work with the Office of Inclusion Education and has created many positive relationships with all of her co-workers and peers that lead to a phenomenal impact on campus. This summer Ciboney will attend the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity and be able to bring back a wealth of knowledge to continue her work for social justice.

Outstanding Staff

Outstanding Staff: Serena Cisneros

The outstanding faculty/staff award goes to Serena Cisneros. Serena’s nominators shared the following statement, “AUNTIE Serena Cisneros (Anishinaabe from the Lac Courte Oreilles (leh-coo-tourey) Reservation) has had a profound impact on the Indigenous community on campus. As a mental health provider, Serena has been a strong advocate and support for Indigenous students. Students who have met with Serena talk about the way she has impacted their lives and helped them when they were struggling. In her work, Serena is dedicated to decolonizing mental health in UHS and across campus. Serena has also revitalized the ISC’s Wellness Room. Across campus, she has created more accessible mental health spaces and services for Indigenous community. ISC Program Coordinator Bobbi Skenandore said, “She does everything from her heart. Even though her title is AUNTIE, she’s a momma bear when she needs to be. And that energy comes through in the work that she does. She always strives to do things in a good way regardless of the way the institution prefers.” Serena is an unapologetic and honest voice for Native students and staff.”