CCAS Community Members Recognized for DEI Contributions

Faculty, students and staffers were honored for their “unwavering commitment to DEI principles.”
April 10, 2024

From left: CCAS DEI Program Manager Mya' Lesley-Drakeford, Valentina Harizanov, Kevin Blanks, Tiara Jenkins and CCAS DEI Director André Culbreath.

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at George Washington University’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) recently recognized the contributions of members of the CCAS community who demonstrated an “unwavering commitment to DEI principles” through their research, publications, presentations, community service, campus engagement and leadership roles. The following individuals were singled out for their achievements:

Valentina Harizanov: The Cynthia Deitch Faculty Trailblazer Award

(The award honors Associate Professor Emerita Cynthia Deitch, a dedicated trailblazer and DEI champion in the CCAS Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program.)

Professor of Mathematics Valentina Harizanov has made a significant impact on female and minority students by serving as an important role model, taking on several active roles in support of diversity in mathematics. She created a small but well-known group in computability theory, which includes very high-level research, seminars and conferences with distinguished speakers. This group has included a relatively large number of female and minority mathematicians, many of them students. She also serves as the faculty mentor for the GW Association for Women in Mathematics student chapter, organizing panels and events that provide a supportive and inclusive environment for students from underrepresented groups in mathematics and related sciences.

Tiara Jenkins: CCAS ODEI Staff Award

Tiara Jenkins, academic lab coordinator at the CCAS Department of Anthropology, is committed to supporting women of color in predominantly white cis-male spaces. Her efforts include creating a lab tour for students of color to introduce them to the anthropology space and work towards recruiting a more diverse group of students for the labs. Jenkins is known for her thoughtfulness, care and dedication to making the Anthropology Department a better space for everyone. Anyone in the department would attest to the immense effort and dedication she puts towards creating a better environment for students and staff members alike.

Asim Ebrahim: CCAS ODEI Undergraduate Student Award

Asim Ebrahim, a human service and social justice major, has been committed to serving the D.C. community since day one of his GW journey. As a Knapp Fellow for Entrepreneurial Service-Learning, Ebrahim demonstrated exceptional skills mentoring D.C. public high school students and creating equitable opportunities to improve the community. In addition to his work through the fellowship, he has made an impact through his participation on multiple community organizations and service projects. He is a member of several on-campus organizations, where he finds himself bringing people of all backgrounds together to feel more connected.

Kevin Blanks: CCAS ODEI Graduate Student Award

Kevin Blanks, a PhD student in the CCAS Department of English, focuses his research on exploring the experience of queer, disabled Black youth and how literary narratives can foster joy and resilience within racist and ableist structures of power. His commitment to inclusive pedagogy is evident in the classroom, where he works as a GTA in English undergraduate classes on African-American literature, queer theory and disability studies. Apart from his exceptional research and teaching skills, Blanks works as a mentor in GW’s Office of Student Success, demonstrating his dedication to supporting and empowering students from diverse backgrounds. His own experience as a Black, queer and disabled individual have shaped how he approaches his research, teaching, and mentoring. He has overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve his success and is generous in sharing information and resources with others.