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UNF announces 2021 Presidential Diversity Award & Scholarship recipients

The University of North Florida’s Commission on Diversity & Inclusion (CODI) selection committee has announced the recipients of the 2021 Presidential Diversity Award and Scholarships. These awards acknowledge and honor the exemplary efforts of members of the UNF community who increase the appreciation for, and the awareness of the benefits, importance, and relevance of diversity and inclusion, and work hard to advance the efforts of the University to be more diverse and inclusive.

Leverette headshotDr. Tru Leverette, associate professor of English and director of Africana Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of the 2021 Presidential Diversity & Inclusion Award. In her service, Leverette dedicates many efforts toward fostering diversity and inclusion, broadly construed.

She has been a mentor through the UNF Connections Mentoring Program for the past two years. Leverette is a multi-year member of CODI and has participated in numerous diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at the University, including the COAS Dean’s committee on DEI, which has been tasked with investigating ways to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion for faculty, students, and staff. She was a member of the Anti-Racism Education Committee in Fall 2020 and helped develop the UNF online anti-racism education training mandated by President Szymanski.  She has also been serving on the Gen Ed Council’s Diversity Task Force. Dr. Leverette is one of the founding organizers of two widely popular webinar series: The Justice Sessions and the Baobab Black Arts Series.

The Presidential Diversity Awards Scholarship recipients are Shaneka Ferrell and Lily Exantus.

Exantus headshotLily Exantus is a graduate student in the College of Education and Human Services. She is the president of EdJusticeJax, a non-profit organization that provides personal and professional learning for educators striving to be anti-racist, culturally responsive and advocates for social justice. With EdJusticeJax, Exantus has led learning exchanges, workshops and difficult conversations and received a community grant from the Abolitionist Teaching Network to create an antiracism course for Jacksonville teachers that will debut this summer. Exantus founded and co-leads Swooping for Equity, an antiracist working group for COEHS faculty, students and staff.

Ferrell headshotShaneka Ferrell is a doctoral student in the College of Education and Human Services. She is the creator and facilitator of Cultural Conversations, an affinity group for Duval County Public Schools. Ferrell created Gracious Spaces for students of color to have earnest and honest Cultural Conversations. She was a co-facilitator of UNF’s Bridges Summer Camp program held last July, whose focus was to explore educational spaces from anti-racist, social justice and advocacy lenses. She also co-facilitates Summer Students of Color Safe Space Bi-Weekly Check-ins, which cultivate safe spaces and check-ins to support students of color to discuss the current pandemic and the crisis of social and racial injustices that predate COVID-19.