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K-State Today Student Edition

May 1, 2013



May 7 awards banquet recognizes Latino student and faculty achievements, success

By Communications and Marketing

Kansas State University is celebrating "excelencia" in higher education at an inaugural awards banquet honoring Latino students' and faculty achievements and success.

The Semillas de Excelencia Learning Communities awards banquet is from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, in the Ballroom K-State Student Union. It is the first awards banquet that recognizes Latino and Latina faculty, staff and students for their leadership and service to the university, as well as their efforts to increase the opportunities and enrollment of Latino and Latina students. Semillas is the Spanish word for seeds.

The banquet is open to the public and costs $16. Those attending are asked to RSVP by Thursday, May 2.

The banquet will feature a keynote address by Sarita Brown, president and co-founder of Excelencia in Education, a national nonprofit organization working to accelerate Latino success in higher education. Brown will speak about improving college success for Latino and Latina students.

"We are excited to have Sarita share her experiences and insight with the campus community," said April Mason, provost of Kansas State University. "Ms. Brown is one of the most distinguished and well-regarded thought leaders in advancing educational opportunities for diverse and multicultural students. Her expertise is sure to benefit all of us at Kansas State University as we work together to enhance opportunities and expand student success for all."

The awards banquet stems from a grant that funded Semillas de Excelencia Learning Communities, a program that expanded university programs to retain Latino and Latina students every year. For spring 2013, there are 1,201 students on campus who identify themselves as Latino or Latina -- an increase of 60 students from the 2012 spring semester.

"The Semillas de Excelencia program has been an academic and holistic safe haven for our Latino and Latina students," said JohnElla Holmes, instructor of American ethnic studies, co-project director of the university's Semillas de Excelencia Learning Communities program and Semillas banquet co-chair. "Our learning communities housed in the College of Business Administration, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Agriculture have seen outstanding retention results from it. The College of Business Administration recorded a 93 percent retention rate, which is about 36 percent higher than national statistics. This awards banquet is a chance to recognize some of the outstanding student accomplishments and recognize our graduates from the initial 2009 cohort."

Brown's visit was organized by Holmes and Dawne Martin, assistant dean for diversity in the College of Business Administration, Koch diversity faculty fellow and co-project director for the university's Semillas program; the office of diversity and Myra Gordon, associate provost for diversity; the Bilingual/Bicultural Education Students Interacting to Obtain Success -- or BESITOS -- scholarship program in the College of Education; Socorro Herrera, professor of elementary education and executive director of the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy; and Alianza, a faculty and staff organization that advances the Latino and Latina communities through career development and professional opportunities.

The schedule for the awards banquet is as follows:

* 5:30-5:45 p.m., Cocktail hour. Meet and greet faculty and students in the Developing Scholars Program and Bilingual/Bicultural Education Students Interacting to Obtain Success, or BESITOS. Non-alcoholic drinks will be served.

* 5:45-6 p.m., Availability for media interviews.

* 6 p.m., Banquet begins with welcoming from April Mason, provost of Kansas State University.

* 6:15 p.m., Dinner served.

* 6:45 p.m., Invited lecture from Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education.

* 7:15 p.m., Student and faculty awards presented.

* 8 p.m., Closing remarks from Myra Gordon, associate provost for diversity at Kansas State University.