About Champions of Inclusion

The Champions of Inclusion Awards are designed to recognize UVU students, staff, faculty, departments, and community partners who advance the core theme of inclusion within the university. Individuals, departments, and community partners are nominated by their colleagues for championing inclusion efforts on campus and in the community. Award winners of the award are invited to the Champions of Inclusion Awards banquet in front of the President’s Cabinet, Board of Trustees, National Presidential Advisory Board, and UVU's Inclusion and Diversity Committee.

Looking to nominate someone as a Champion of Inclusion? Fill out the form here!

2021 Winners

This year was a highly unusual year. Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, we also witnessed grave consequences of a highly racialized pandemic. The importance of the Champions of Inclusion Award is to recognize particular students, staff, faculty, and departments who advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in meaningful ways at UVU. They have been integral in the progress of our inclusion plan as well as creating and sustaining inclusive spaces. This year is unique in that we have 2 student awards and 2 staff awards. For the student awards, this is the first year awarding a student group and an individual student. Congratulations to our 2021 Champion of Inclusion Award Winners.

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Black Student Union Leadership

Student Award

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Arty Diaz

Student Award

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Justin Marks

Staff Award

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Deb Marrott

Staff Administrator Award

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Jeremy Sortore

Faculty Award

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Student Health Services: Mental Health Therapists

Department Award

2020 Winners

Noemy Medina

Staff Champion Award

Assistant Director, First-Year Experience and Student Retention

Noemy Medina is the assistant director of First-Year Experience and Student Retention, and she works tirelessly to create equitable opportunities for all students. In addition to her full-time responsibilities and priorities, Noemy initiated and led important conversations, contributing to the development of an organizational proposal that influenced promising practices toward transforming the experiences of a large community of students with varying documentation statuses at UVU. Her efforts resulted in mobilizing improvements that were informed by her focus that involved (a) examining best practices in parallel institutions (both local and national); (b) outlining implications of college access, educational policies, and support; and (c) advocating for more careful considerations and attention to stronger processes, partnerships, and privacy at UVU. Noemy’s work has enabled students to feel more welcome and safe at UVU. Her ability to wear multiple hats and invest in student success by helping students from all walks of life establishes her as the Staff Champion of Inclusion at UVU.

Cristell Marcial

Student Champion Award

Student Success Specialist

Cristell Marcial is a first-generation Latina student and 2020 graduate of UVU’s social work program. While working rigorously to complete her degree, she signed up to become a student-leader and was eventually hired as a student success specialist at UVU. As an instrumental source of support for students, Cristell served approximately 200 students per week and leveraged promising practices to enhance student success among some of the most vulnerable students. She assisted minoritized students in achieving their goals by integrating her fluency in both Spanish and English and actively works to make the invisible visible. She shares knowledge with students about tools, resources, and opportunities available at UVU through her interpersonal skills, empathy, and patience. Cristell’s experiences as a student-leader and employee provide a vehicle to strengthen students’ confidence toward completing their degrees by making them feel included at UVU. Cristell is a strong role model for students, and she is the perfect Student Champion of Inclusion at UVU.

Cristell Marcial

Dr. Leandra Hernández

Faculty Champion Award

Assistant Professor, Communication Studies

Dr. Leandra Hernández is an assistant professor of communication studies in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). She is the immediate past chair of the National Communication Association La Raza Caucus and Latina/o Communication Studies division, as well as the vice-chair elect of the Feminist and Gender Studies division. Dr. Hernandez actively innovates inclusive learning opportunities and has a unique ability to connect with students on the individual level. In her courses, she fosters meaningful connections with students that entail female mentorship ("femtorship"), critical service-learning opportunities, and critical consciousness raising that (re)awakens the imagination. Dr. Hernandez encourages students from diverse backgrounds to affirm their voices and (re)claim their space in academia; doing so empowers students to learn from their peers and engage with a world beyond one’s self. Moreover, Dr. Hernandez structures her service-learning courses to provoke radical possibilities and promote increased collaborations between students and health care organizations that lead to more culturally competent and relevant understandings and practices. The accumulation of Dr. Hernández’s work — combined with her determination to promote student success in more inclusive learning environments — sets her apart as the Faculty Champion of Inclusion at UVU.

University College

Department Champion Award

University College is at the forefront of advancing UVU’s core theme of “Include,” and it is no surprise that they received the award for the Department Champion of Inclusion. As a division, University College promises “a place and a path” for every student, and they function under the imperative of using their privilege to help others succeed. Their academic departments and student resources serve a high rate of students with more difficult educational histories, students of color, and first-gen and non-traditional students. They have ensured careful hiring practices that have resulted in 30% of full-time faculty being faculty of color. This previous year, 90% of their scholarships were given to students who self-identified as having financial need, 60% were given to students who self-identified as single parents, non-traditional, or first-generation students. Due to University College’s Strategic Plan, 2,273 students saved a total of $246,934.65 in textbook costs alone this past year. University College has implemented inclusion throughout its areas and constantly increases equity across the board at the university. UVU is grateful for their enduring commitment, recognized as the Department Champion of Inclusion, to ensure inviting, accessible, and equitable opportunities for all UVU students and employees.

2017 Winners

Karen McCandless

Community Partner Award

cristobal villegas

Community Strategies Director

Community Action (Provo)

Mikki O'Conner

Staff/Administrator Award

mikki o'conner

Assistant Dean

UVU School of Business

Violeta Vasilevska

Faculty Champion Award

violeta vasilevska

Associate Professor


Cristobal Villegas

Student Champion Award

cristobal villegas


Multicultural Student Council