Kent State Honors 2020 Diversity Award Recipients

As part of its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration held Jan. 24, Kent State University has announced the 2020 recipients of its Diversity Trailblazer Award, Beverly J. Warren Unity Award for Diversity and Rozell Duncan Student Diversity Award.

Diversity Trailblazer Award

Alfreda Brown, Kent State’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, was honored with the university’s 2020 Diversity Trailblazer Award for her years of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion across all eight Kent State campuses.

The Diversity Trailblazer Award recognizes diversity pioneers associated with Kent State. The award is presented to those individuals who have displayed exemplary contributions in the area of diversity to the university community.

Through her 31 years serving as a “trailblazer” for diversity issues, Brown has led strategic diversity planning for the university as well as ensuring successful implementation of related policies, programs and projects. She joined Kent State as the university’s first vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion in 2009.

Under her leadership, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has emerged as a preeminent change agent, developing integral initiatives that champion diversity, equity and inclusion.

Going forward, the Diversity Trailblazer Award will be named in honor of Brown for her groundbreaking work at Kent State.

Beverly J. Warren Unity Award for Diversity

This year’s Beverly J. Warren Unity Award for Diversity was presented to the Fashion School’s NYC Studio.

This award recognizes the contributions of any Kent State unit that demonstrates significant contributions in the areas of diversity, equity, and/or inclusion. This award honors units for their commitment to implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The Fashion School’s NYC Studio was given the award in recognition of its recent development and implementation of an innovative Fashion Industry Diversity Panel series. Top industry leaders are invited to come to Kent State to discuss important topics with students related to diversity, equity and inclusion specific to the fashion industry.

“The NYC Studio leadership team is fully committed to creating an inclusive space for dialogue, learning and engagement among students, alumni and industry professionals on these important real-world topics,” said award-nominator Brittani Peterson, marketing associate for the Fashion School and the Kent State University Museum.

Rozell Duncan Student Diversity Award

The 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.

This award was created to recognize a student who has demonstrated a respect for, and value of, differing backgrounds and points of view within Kent State or surrounding communities. These are all values that Duncan embodied; her impact as professor at Kent State touched countless lives and her legacy will continue each year with this award.

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.

The 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.

For more information about the Diversity Trailblazer Award, visit

For more information about the Beverly J. Warren Unity Award for Diversity, visit

For more information about the Rozell Duncan Student Diversity Award, visit

For more information about Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, visit

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Media Contacts:
Eric Mansfield,, 330-672-2797
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Monday, January 27, 2020 01:05 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 10:15 AM
Macy Kittelberger