2018 Awardees

Dr. Chico Herbison Hawk Link Scholastic Award

Annie Landis

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hometown: Silver Lake

Major: English, minor in psychology

Quote: Mauricio told me this quote my freshman year and it has stuck with me all 6 years, “Life is the hardest teacher. First it gives you the test, then it teaches you the lesson.”

Spring 2013 I began working as a front desk assistant for the OMA. Summer 2013 I worked my first summer orientation as a Hawk Link Guide, then continued the position through Summer 2014. Spring 2015 I worked as a Peer Advisor for the UAC. I took a break from school from Fall 2015 through Fall 2016, returning to KU in Spring 2017. I worked as an Orientation Assistant for the College Summer 2017. For the 2017-2018 academic year I have worked as a Student Ambassador for the College.


Cameron Long

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Hometown: Kansas City, KS

Major: Business Management & Marketing

Quote: "If you believe in yourself enough and know what you want, you're going to make it happen" -Mariah Carey

Cameron Long has been involved in several activities while at KU. He has served as the Recruitment & Multicultural Recruitment Coordinator for KU Student Ambassadors, President of the Zeta Omicron Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc, Vice President & VP of Outreach for National Pan-Hellenic Council and Stroll Off Chair of the 39th Big XII Conference on Black Student Government. He is a proud Kauffman Scholar, Multicultural Business Scholar, member of National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Sigma Alpha Lambda Leadership & Honor Society. His most memorable moments at KU were being the keynote speaker at the Chancellor's Achievement Banquet twice and interning at Goldman Sachs the summer before his senior year. Upon graduation, Cameron will be moving to Los Angeles, California to work for Starr Companies as an insurance underwriter associate.


Dr. Fred Rodriguez Award for Academic Achievement

Tyler Allen

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hometown: Denver, CO

Major: African American Studies (BA)

Quote: "Be better than you were yesterday... in EVERYTHING. MAKE YOUR DAYS COUNT!"

Tyler Allen is a senior from Denver majoring in African-American studies. She is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar who has also served in leadership roles on the KU National Pan-Hellenic Council, Black Student Union’s Freshman Action Team, and the Omega Theta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. As an undergraduate, Allen has conducted research on the influence that hip-hop culture and music has had on the African-American community. Allen also kick-started a "Divine 9 Plaza" project to give National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations permanent landmarks on campus. With this, she has also created an interdisciplinary master’s program in African-American studies and museum studies to allow her to focus on how diverse art forms can contribute in secondary educational spaces. Allen hopes she has given students the courage to explore their interests and stand strong in the histories and people they come from. "As a first-generation college student of color from a single-parent home, I am really big on defying all odds and fighting any obstacles put against you,” she said. “Hopefully my work encourages other student leaders who will serve the KU community."​



Toni Rufledt

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hometown: Weston, Wisconsin

Major: Double major in Psychology and Sociology

Quote: “Making a difference is your birthright”

I have been a multicultural student ambassador for the past three years at the University of Kansas. I work with admissions representatives to create and give presentations, work on projects, give tours of campus and to overall assist prospective students and families make the decision to attend KU. I am also a member of Kappa Delta Sorority. As a member, I serve as a Greek tutor, helping undergraduate students better understand various coursework. I am also a regular volunteer at the local homeless shelter. I work with children in guiding them in activities that encourages and strengthens their self-esteem. All of these experiences have increased my appreciation for diversity and inclusivity as well as giving back to the Lawrence community.


Dr. Neeli Bendapudi Award

Danielle London

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hometown: Leawood, Kansas

Major: Global & International Studies and Peace & Conflict Studies

Quote: You're the descendent of Aphrodite: forged in the glow of ancient fires. (I found this quote in Kiosk 54 at Colors '17 when we made liberation zines!)

In my time at KU, I’ve tried to get involved in a variety of different activities making the full list too long to spell out; but, some of the most impactful have been serving on the executive board of Students United for Reproductive and Gender Equity, working as an Orientation Assistant and peer mentor for a UNIV 101 course, co-facilitating at Colors of KU this year, and, without a doubt, being a peer social justice educator for the OMA over the past three years. Also, I don’t think Emily would forgive me if I didn’t mention I was an Ex.C.E.L. Finalist and recipient of the Rusty Leffel Concerned Student University Award.


Marisa Pecoraro

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hometown: White Lake, Michigan and Bentonville, AT

Major: Double major History and African American Studies double minor Journalism and Anthropology

Quote: Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them 

Quote: We've all got both light and darkness instead of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are. 

Coming from out of state I did not know how to fit in at KU. I found a place working for Student Housing and as a Peer Educator for the OMA during my Sophomore year. Along with this I have tried to involve myself with the local community by not only having another job off-campus but through Volunteered at the local preschool with CCO. During my time I have been engaged on campus with SAPEC, surge and other justice oriented groups, and I had the chance to study abroad in Morocco and teach while abroad. 


Mary Townsend Award

Mercedes Bounthapanya

Pronouns: She/They

Hometown: Emporia, KS

Major: Mathematics

Quote: Someone once told me that the principles of inclusion and a sense of belonging are the key components to academic success.

I was a Career Center Specialist at the University Career Center, a Teaching Assistant for the Kansas Algebra Program, a Peer Advisor for the Undergraduate Advising Center, and a Peer Educator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. I chartered-someone who helped found-Sigma Psi Zeta at KU, a multicultural Greek organization, I served on Multicultural Greek Council as well as served on the first executive board of the Multicultural Student Government as Treasurer. I received the Woman Student in Leadership award from The Emily Taylor Center and am a 2017-2018 University Awards Recipient for the Rusty Leffel Concerned Student award. 


Margarita Alely Nunez Arroyo

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hometown: Compton, CA

Major : Journalism, minors in dance and creative writing

Quote: "So ellos pueden porque no tu"

Margarita Alely Nuñez Arroyo is a senior who is majoring in Journalism with minors in dance and Creative writing.  She was born in Mexico and her hometown is Compton, California. Margarita is both a creative and academic writer. She is a McNair Scholar who conducts scholarship regarding the form the Latinx individuals communicate and translate their identities and voices through different mediums of digital and print works. She is interested in examining the form that Latinx individuals demonstrate and resist to patriarchy, capitalism, and whiteness.
She has been involved in organizations such as HALO which is now the Latin American Student Union. Nuñez was also a writer for the online magazine Her Campus. She has worked with TRIO Gear Up and the Harvest of Hope Leadership Program.She hopes to get her doctorate and become a professor in a university where she can mentor students of color and remind them that they are worthy and belong in the realm of academia. One of the things that Margarita pushes is writing as a form of healing, she believes one can be their own curanderas/curanderos with the act of writing and other creative works. Her creative work serves to be translations of her experiences, her work is flesh and bone. It is organic and serves as a form of healing and understanding of her physical surroundings. Through her work she hopes to heal, understand more, and serve to make other students of color feel existence. Margarita will begin a PhD program from American Studies at the University of Kansas in the fall.


Distinguished Graduate Student Award

Anissa Martinez

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas

Major: Masters of Science in Education- Higher Education Administration

Quote: If you stay ready you ain’t gotta get ready” –Jordan A. Brandt  

Dr. Precious Porras Award for Campus Advocacy and Activism

Alejandra Garcia Brenes

Pronouns: She, her, hers

Hometown: Overland Park, KS

Major: BS in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Quote: I couldn't find me! When I arrived at KU as a commuter/transfer student I didn't feel like I belonged. At the time there was an admissions rep named Greg Valdovino who encouraged me to start a group for undocumented students. I was scared and not sure if it was possible, but I am so glad that I listened to him. He helped me find our current advisors, Alex and Vicky, who are amazing women that from day one expressed their support for students who are undocumented (including DACA AND TPS) and from mixed status families. The support from these individuals made the group a reality, and little by little we are starting to make KU a more welcoming place for undocumented individuals. Having the group made my time at KU more enjoyable, and it helped me form some incredible friendships that I am grateful for. It is not easy but our fight will continue until we no longer have to be in the shadows! 

Founded Dreamers KU back in 2016, and has been the president for 2 years. Undergraduate student representative for the Undocumented Student Services Committee. Dreamers KU will transition to become a coalition of different student groups to be able to connect undocumented and mixed status individuals with allies.