News and Sports

Kim Ritzema '04 and Sittivanh Manivong '04 were pioneers of diversity among Trinity's student body throughout their four years together, and the College recognized their efforts by bestowing them with the Catherine Yonker Memorial Award this year.

Named in honor of a former employee who demonstrated a passion for unity and diversity, Trinity presents the award to people who promote Christian race relations and cross-cultural understanding. Ritzema served as secretary of the Organization of African-American Unity since her freshman year, and Manivong helped found the Asian-American Alliance student group.

"I was really surprised and kind of shocked to get the award," said Ritzema, a native of Fulton, Illinois, who graduated with a degree in social work. "This is Trinity's most prestigious award for celebrating diversity, and I wanted to contribute to that goal by getting to know people outside my culture."

During Ritzema's tenure, membership in the OAAU tripled. The group began to lead chapel, conduct cultural events on campus, and sponsor trips for its members to diversity conferences throughout the United States.

Manivong, a philosophy graduate from Rockford, Illinois, proposed the idea of launching an organization for students of Asian descent during the 2002-03 academic year after she and many of her friends began socializing more frequently. Ginny Carpenter, dean of students, approved the plan, and Manivong, whose family roots are Laotian, was elected the first president of the AAA last year.

Yonker was executive assistant to former business manager and current trustee Glenn Lemmenes and an original member of the Trinity Garden Club, a group who planted flowers and plants on campus and raised money for scholarships. The Garden Club later became known as the Women's Guild, which Yonker served as secretary.

back to news & events