diversity

MWCC students Kyle Johnson and Heather Rick, with Diversity Committee member Carla Morrissey, left, and committee chair Carol Cullins, right. Not pictured: Tamara Harmon.

MWCC students Kyle Johnson, Heather Rick and Tamara Harmon are the winners of the second annual President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition. Each will receive a free, three-credit academic course.

Rick, a paralegal studies major, was selected for her essay, Chair City, which reflected on her experience of class in Gardner. Her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in a dozen literary journals and she is currently working on a novel.

“Much of my work explores issues of class, particularly as it intersects with racial and sexual identity and the deconstruction of privilege. As someone who identifies as a working-class artist and has had to struggle to afford an education, I would like to work to provide underprivileged youth with access to arts education,” she said.

Johnson and Harmon, both art majors, were selected for artwork depicting diversity. Harmon created a sculpture of a human hand covered with images of world flags and a variety of faces. Johnson’s abstract painting features images of people, the tree of life, and panels depicting challenges and trimphs throughout the journey of life.

The competitive award provides a certificate and funding for a three credit course. The scholastic competition allowed students to prepare papers, posters, essays, research work, or other original, creative work related to issues of diversity or identity, such as those involving disability, race, socioeconomic status, veteran status, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and national origin, as well as the value such diversity brings to the learning and working environment.

 

MWCC announced the winners of the Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition. From left, Diversity Committee co chair Kim Giroux, students Joram Kiriungi, Kate Murphy and Renee Chandler, President Daniel M. Asquino, and committee co-chair Carol Cullins.

Joram Kiriungi, a nursing student who was born and raised in Kenya, Kate Murphy, a local artist and community volunteer majoring in Liberal Arts, and Renee Chandler, a human services major and poet, are the winners of Mount Wachusett Community College’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition.

The students were recognized by MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino and the college’s Diversity Committee on Feb. 20. Each will receive a free, three-credit academic course.

Kiriungi, who has lived in the U.S. since 2004, is pursuing his associate degree in nursing. In his essay, “Race,” Kiriungi examines his experiences as a black man living in America, having come from a country where he did not encounter prejudice because of the color of his skin.

“I applaud Mount Wachusett for initiating this exercise, which has allowed me to find a place for an honest discussion on what it means to be a black man in America who is not a slave descendant,” Kiriungi said. “In my paper, I examine the complications faced by people like me who cannot claim to identify with the black experience wholly, but yet are subjected to the same level of prejudice as any other black person in America is.”

Murphy, an artist, student, mother, wife and active volunteer in the community, was selected as one of the top three winners for her painting, “What Separates Us.” Her vibrant paintings and mixed media illustrations reveal complex, yet ambiguous narratives of a cartoonish, cubist reality that may in fact be our own. The diversity competition provided a perfect venue for her style of work because she often explores people, their attitudes and reactions to each other and their environment. After graduating from MWCC this spring, she plans to transfer to Fitchburg State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

Chandler received the award for her collection of poems on diversity and mental health awareness. She earned her GED from the college and continued on through the Adult Basic Education program and is now a full-time student pursuing degrees in human services and complementary health care.

“I wrote about mental health, as that is my passion and decided to bare it all in my poetry,” she said. “I am so excited to be recognized for my writing and am thrilled to have had this chance to express my feelings openly and be rewarded for it.”

The competitive award provides a certificate and funding for a three credit course. The scholastic competition allowed students to prepare papers, posters, essays, research work, or other original, creative work related to issues of diversity or identity, such as those involving disability, race, socioeconomic status, veteran status, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and national origin, as well as the value such diversity brings to the learning and working environment.