Rozell Duncan Student Diversity Award Hall of Fame

2020 Rozell Duncan Student Diversity Award Recipients, Pacifique Niyonzima and Latinx in Theatre

2020 Rozell Duncan Student Diversity Award Recipient, Pacifique NiyonzimaThe 2020 Rozell Duncan Student Diversity Award was given to Pacifique Niyonzima, a dedicated and committed Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Foundations within the College of Education, Health and Human Services.

As a student and graduate assistant for the Division of Student Affairs, Niyonzima has been actively involved in various intercultural and diversity initiatives on and off campus.

“He truly embodies the spirit of diversity and inclusion,” said award-nominator Sung-Chun Chou.

Niyonzima has facilitated a partnership between Kent State and the University of Rwanda, in his home country, to attract international students, lecturers and researchers as well as working to broaden study abroad programs to Africa for Kent State students.

In addition, Niyonzima has studied abroad in Italy and Switzerland to learn about global healthcare through the World Healthcare Organization, the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.

2020 Rozell Duncan Student Diversity Award Recipient ,Latinx in TheatreThe student diversity award also recognizes a student organization that exemplifies the same values and strives to make Kent State a more diverse university.

The Latinx in Theatre was given this honor for its constant dedication to helping students find their voices and exposing the greater community to diverse experiences.

“Latinx in Theatre is Kent State’s first ever organization to promote the participation of Latinos in theatre and elevate the experiences of Latinos expressed through theatrical form,” said Fabio Polanco, associate professor and award-nominator.

2019 Rozell Duncan Student Diversity Award Recipient, Yayra Tamakloe

New this year was the university’s Student Diversity Award, which was awarded to Yayra Tamakloe, a senior fashion design major who is originally from Ghana. “I am very honored,” Ms. Tamakloe said in an interview prior to the award ceremony. She was not at the award presentation due to being in New York for graduate school interviews. Ms. Tamakloe settled in the state of Washington when she came to the United States in 2010. She is the second of three children. “I’ve been an artist my whole life, pretty much,” she said.  

Yayra TamakloeTameka N. Ellington, Ph.D., associate dean of Kent State’s College of the Arts and a fashion professor, nominated Ms. Tamakloe for the award, citing her dedication and commitment as a student and her involvement in student government. Ms. Tamakloe previously served as president of the Kent African Student Association and currently serves the senator representing the College of the Arts on Undergraduate Student Government.

After earning an associate’s degree in nursing at a community college in her home state, Ms. Tamakloe said she felt she would not be satisfied if she did not pursue some type of career in the arts. She selected Kent State for its highly ranked fashion program. Currently, she is applying to graduate schools where, after May graduation, she hopes to earn a master’s degree in theatre and performing arts.
Ms. Tamakloe, who is 25 years old, has been active in Kent State’s theatre community.

“Yayra’s love for the arts knows no boundaries as she continuously sharpens her acting and directing skills,” Dr. Ellington said in her nomination. “As a result of her experiences and involvement with notable productions on campus and the African Community Theatre, she directed a play entitled R.A.P.E. The play, selected as one of the productions spotlighted by the School of Theatre and Dance during the Fall 2018 Semester, provided a dynamic representation of how sexual assault does not discriminate – it affects everyone.” Ms. Tamakloe said she began writing about sexual abuse because she felt the issue was much more complex than it is portrayed. “The relationships people have with community and society and culture effect these things,” she said.