YONKER AWARD RECIPIENTS
FOSTER CAMPUS DIVERSITY
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.
to news & events