Senior and Faculty, Staff Diversity Recognition Awards announced

Penn State Multicultural Resource Center recognizes recipients for academics, leadership and service
Pillar in back of HUB

The Multicultural Resource Center at Penn State has announced this year’s Senior and Faculty/Staff Diversity Recognition Awards recipients.

Credit: Chris Koleno

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) at Penn State has announced this year’s Senior and Faculty/Staff Diversity Recognition Awards recipients. The 2020 awards honor multicultural University Park graduating seniors who excel in academics, leadership, and service. The awards also honor outstanding faculty and staff throughout Penn State who demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts beyond the responsibilities of their position.

Due to COVID-19 and the transition to remote learning, the MRC was not able to hold the annual 2020 spring awards reception.

The following award recipients are recognized for their accomplishments:

Faculty/Staff Diversity Recognition Award (University Park)

Lesley A. Wieland Jackson, student outreach coordinator, Career Services, Student Affairs

Wieland Jackson developed partnerships with the Multicultural Resource Center, the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, and the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity to provide on-site career drop-in services and student programming. She serves on the Administrative Council on Multicultural Affairs, supervises a graduate assistant dedicated to inclusion, and developed a vibrant and diverse outreach intern program. Wieland Jackson's efforts resulted in the increased participation of diverse students in the annual Diversity Dialogues event and in career networking opportunities.

John Romano Faculty/Staff Diversity Recognition Award (Penn State Campus)

Joseph J. Webb Jr., director, Student Affairs, Penn State Berks

Webb's goal is to help ensure that multicultural students know they belong on campus. He is a mentor to students in the Men of Excellence organization, a group that provides black and brown males the connection, resources, and support to achieve academic excellence. He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education and serves as adviser to the Black Student Union organization and the Student Veterans of America. Additionally, Webb implemented an initiative to highlight campus employees who excel in supporting an inclusive environment.

Academic Scholarship Award

Ashley P. Saunders, Eberly College of Science, chemistry (bachelor of science), mathematics (minor)

Saunders is a Millennium Scholars Program Scholar, a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, and an endowed American Chemical Society Scholar. She has conducted high caliber research in laboratories at Penn State, Purdue, and Virginia Tech. She has two scientific publications and was sixth author for a publication in Nature, a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Saunders has been accepted to graduate school at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and the University of California at Berkeley.

Inspiring Student Leader Award

Alana E. Gomez, Smeal College of Business, management information systems (bachelor of science)

Gomez is a Smeal Diversity Enhancement Programs Scholar and the current president of the Association of Latino Professionals for America. In her leadership position, Gomez has ensured that the organization maintains positive relationships with corporate partners and offers networking opportunities for students. Additionally, she is a Bunton-Waller Merit Awardee, a Boeing Case Competition second-place winner, and an attendance lead for Sociology 119.

Resilient Student Award

Reana Moody, College of Health and Human Development, human development and family studies (bachelor of science)

Moody is a Brook J. Lenfest Scholar and a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. Her 2019 McNair research was expanded into another paper for which she was third author, and which was presented at the Society for Research on Adolescence Conference in San Diego, California. On campus, she offered bystander intervention programming through Stand for State. Moody became a student parent during her sophomore year and has made the Dean’s List every semester since.

Student Leadership Award

Courtney A. Viola Fisher, Smeal College of Business, finance (bachelor of science)

Fisher is a Smeal Diversity Enhancement Programs Scholar and a recipient of the Ralph H. Wherry Student Service Award. She coordinated professional development opportunities for multicultural students as part of the Multicultural Women’s Forum and the START Diversity Conference committee. Fisher was also the Hope Here, Hope Now treasurer, Kohl's Business with Integrity Case Competition semi-finalist, and Boeing Case Competition first-place winner.

Student Organization Award

Puerto Rican Student Association (PRSA), Gabriela Sánchez Robles, president

This year, PRSA focused on making Penn State a more multicultural and inclusive community, with their primary goal of bringing diversity to THON. This goal was achieved by collaborating with numerous multicultural organizations in their “THON 2020 Diversity Movement,” and in the process raised over $4,500 for THON. PRSA also raised over $600 for Puerto Rico’s earthquake relief and has been active within Latino Caucus to help represent the Latino culture.

Outstanding Senior Award

Wensy Arrindell, College of the Liberal Arts, psychology (bachelor of science)

Arrindell is a mentor in the Black and Latino Male Empowerment Group and helped plan events to highlight the mental health of men of color for the Black and Latino Male Symposium. He also served as the student speaker for the 2019 MRC Transfer and Change-of-Campus Orientation and served as a panelist for MRC programs. Arrindell is a vigorous leader who displays effective mentorship, personal resilience, and a commitment to the well-being of students of color.

Additional information about the Multicultural Resource Center and the 2020 awards can be found at