mbers of the Manhattan community packed the K-State Alumni Center to attend the 17th annual Commerce Bank Presidential Awards for Distinguished Services in Diversity and Multiculturalism.
The awards honored Ariel Anib, senior in criminology, and Madai Rivera, admissions coordinator in the College of Human Ecology, for their dedication toward increasing diversity awareness and providing historically underrepresented minorities with a voice and presence on the K-State campus.
“The work that our two winners have done have given us light,” said Tom Giller, president of Commerce Bank. “Thank you for your bright light that helps lead us by example.”
Anib, who was the student recipient of the award, has been actively involved in her time at K-State and has done much work with diversity and multiculturalism. In addition to being the multicultural assistant at Goodnow Hall for three years, Anib spearheaded numerous efforts involving human rights and international justice.
“Ariel has served as the president of the Nonprofit Student Alliance, has been a Leadership Studies Ambassador and currently teaches Spanish classes for children and adults at the UFM Community Center,” said Mary Tolar, director of the School of Leadership Studies. “Her passion for doing good on this campus has always been so palpable and purposeful.”
Anib has consistently explored opportunities in her community to serve underrepresented minorities. Last summer, she interned at Mission Adelante, an organization in Kansas City that aims to provide support to the immigrant community. As a junior, she led the “Stop Slavery Summitt,” which brought awareness of the human trafficking and slavery issue to the K-State community.
Anib always found a way to achieve what she wanted to, a quality that Tolar said made Anib an extraordinary student and member of the community.
“If Ariel wants to do something, she finds a way,” Tolar said. “She has a plan, and makes it happen.”
After Anib accepted the award, she spoke of her experiences as a youth and remembered the role that her upbringing played in her involvement in diversity, multiculturalism, human rights and social advocacy.
“I remember learning as a little girl that race was a social construct,” Anib said. “You can’t let others define you. I know for me, I am a 20-year-old Nigerian-American woman who has a passion for justice. That’s who I am, and that’s how I define myself.”
Anib thanked her friends, family, teachers, faculty members and coworkers for her success, recognizing that her achievements have been a direct result of the support system around her.
“This ceremony is not about me,” Anib said. “It’s about those of you who have supported me, encouraged me and empowered me to make a difference.”
After a classical Indian dance performance by Jui Mhatre, dance teacher at UFM, the ceremony shifted its attention to the faculty finalist of the Commerce Bank Presidential award.
Rivera, who is actively involved in the College of Human Ecology as the admissions counselor, also serves as the college’s diversity coordinator.
Over the past two years, Rivera has been instrumental in the recruitment of minority students and has helped K-State enroll a record number of traditionally underrepresented students. Rivera also translated K-State’s online admissions information to Spanish.
She currently serves as the adviser for both Sigma Lambda Gamma and Sigma Alpha Lambda, fraternities through the College of Agriculture, and has also impacted the lives of Latino youth through her involvement in organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Rivera thanked her family, friends, coworkers and students, saying that her job does not feel like a responsibility, but rather an honor and privilege.
“It’s called a job, but it’s more like a hobby,” Rivera said. “I truly love what I do. Working with students and I want to thank everyone who has made my job such a pleasure.”
Rivera recognized that although she has accomplished many of her goals, she still has many other plans to increase muticulturalism.
“This award tells me ‘Madai, you’re doing a good job, but we have a lot more work to do,'” she said. “It sounds cliche, but it’s a team effort. Together, we can make this university and community a better place.”
The award ceremony fell in the same week that K-State is remembering and honoring Martin Luther King Jr., a coincidence that Betsy Cauble, head of the department of sociology, said is fitting.
“Dr. Martin Luther King is smiling down on us today,” Cauble said. “I feel more hopeful for the world with Ariel and Madai leading the way.”
Pat Bosco, vice president of student life and dean of students, echoed the sentiment, saying that Anib and Rivera were two examples of outstanding members of the community.
“The rest of us can learn from Ariel and Madai,” Bosco said. “We have two excellent role models who are truly heroes for students, faculty and staff. These are two individuals who speak volumes through their actions.”