September 20, 2013



2013 Kansas Peace Awards go to Zuleica Gerardo, Richard Pitts

By Doug Benson

This year's recipients of the Kansas Peace Awards, sponsored by the Dow Center for Multicultural and Community Services at K-State Libraries, are K-State student Zuleica Gerardo and community member Richard Pitts.

The presentation of the awards will be at the Community Cultural Harmony Week awards luncheon at noon on Friday, Sept. 20, in the West Ballroom of the K-State Student Union. See details are online.

Gerardo, a junior in park and conservation management, is the 2013-2014 Student Governing Association's multicultural affairs director. She also has been a National Pan-Hellenic Council delegate; the workshops chair for the Big 12 Conference on Black Student Government; planning chair and member of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC; the Black Student Union, or BSU; and the Hispanic American Leadership Organization, or HALO. She has served as president, secretary and treasurer of the Nu Beta chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho. She has been very active in the leadership studies program as well.

Pitts is the founder and longtime director of the children's Wonder Workshop in Manhattan. He has taught literally thousands of children the art of how to love learning in a safe environment where bullying is prohibited and where intercultural understanding is encouraged. Children in his programs dance, drum, zipline, create ceramics and are active in a wealth of other activities at the Wonder Workshop Children's Museum as well as at the camp he runs north of Manhattan. In addition, he works tirelessly with adults to share the history of Kansas through his Underground Railroad tours and a self-guided tour of the multicultural history of Manhattan.

The purpose of the awards, started in 2010 by Young-ok Yum, associate professor of communication studies, is twofold:

1)  To raise awareness of the need for understanding, innovation, open-mindedness and ongoing work to promote an inclusive, peaceful and vibrant culture in our local communities and the larger society.

2)  To recognize and publicize the stories of K-State and community members who have contributed, through creative and constructive means, to bring together diverse sociocultural groups, promote intercultural understanding, and help to build a caring, engaged community.