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University of Iowa News Release


May 7, 2010

Multicultural Graduation and Recognition Banquet May 13 to honor student leaders

The University of Iowa is presenting the 20th Annual Multicultural Graduation and Recognition Banquet at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, May 13 in the Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge. The event honors the academic and leadership accomplishments of graduating students of color who have exemplified, promoted or contributed to cultural, racial or ethnic diversity.

The banquet was established in 1990 by Men’s Athletics, the Graduate College and Special Support Services. Held yearly on the Thursday preceding UI commencement ceremonies, the event has attracted the attention of graduating students, faculty, staff and community leaders from all cultural backgrounds.

At the banquet, each UI college recognizes minority students who are receiving professional, graduate and undergraduate degrees with Deans' Awards. The event will also include the Distinguished Educator Award given by students to a faculty or staff member who has worked to enhance diversity in all aspects of campus life. About 25 awards will be given.

It's also an opportunity for UI student service offices to recognize student leaders from several organizations.

"Student leaders serve as officers in student organizations or social groups, but we also recognize the importance of acknowledging those who often work behind the scenes," said Katherine Betts, assistant director for diversity programs and cultural centers in the Office of Student Life.

Senior Dominic Dagen, (right) who works at the Afro-American Cultural Center, said she is honored to attend the banquet.

"This banquet serves as our celebration and allows for the small population of minority students to be recognized for our accomplishments as students of color," she said. "As minority students on campus many of us come to the University of Iowa as first generation students, international students or as students with difficult financial backgrounds. In populations such as these the odds are already against us when it comes to college enrollment and graduation rates, so at the end of four years we can say, 'I am graduating,' and it is a time to celebrate and be thankful for our ability to overcome all of the obstacles college brings."

"My time at Iowa culminated in being recognized not just for my academic achievement but for being a leader among the multicultural community at the UI," said Gloria Hurtado, a 2009 graduate of the UI who received a Student Leadership Award at last year's banquet. "I attribute my success and receipt of my award to Gabriela Rivera, multicultural coordinator in the Center for Diversity and Enrichment, who mentored and supported me throughout my academic career. To other students receiving the award I say, 'take this as a celebration of your culture and hard work. Don't forget that in the future its your commitment to diversity that will help you succeed.'" (Photo left: Rivera is on the left, Hurtado is on the right)

For more information and a list of banquet sponsors, see

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Katherine Betts, Office of Student Life, 319-335-3059; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,