Spring Quarter 2009
I am nominating: La'Keisha Gilford-Beard
Years of Service at Cal Poly: 3
Department: Student Life & Cultural Centers
Position: Coordinator, African American Student Center
Why are you nominating this person: I am nominating La'Keisha because over the past three years, she has changed the climate, level of involvement and visibility of the African American Student Center (AASC). Her dedication to the students, her colleagues and the campus is seen every day through her interactions with the campus community and her work. She is committed to the division's themes and values and goes above and beyond to create opportunities for students at Cal Poly Pomona to develop as leaders, achieve academically and graduate.
Student-Centered Philosophy: La'Keisha is a model student affairs professional. She is in this role because of her belief in the student-centered philosophy. She is very intentional about the programs and services that she creates to ensure students at all developmental levels are given the opportunity to grow. She is very intentional about giving students leadership opportunities so that they are empowered to create change, lead and learn from their experiences. An example of her being student-centered is the way she structures her programming committees, such as Black History Month. Although she has the final say, she allows her student leaders to take the lead in designing and implementing the programs. This process allows the students to learn by doing and grow from their mistakes.
Integrity: La’Keisha has always fulfilled her commitments. She is respected by her colleagues because she is someone they can count on for following through. As her supervisor, I never have to worry whether or not she is going to complete a task. I also appreciate her work ethics and candidness. I can always count on her to give me a straightforward answer and immediate feedback.
Interconnectedness: La'Keisha is always looking for ways to connect with the campus community. She understands the value of collaboration and collegiality. She has worked with ASI, faculty, BFSA, community partners, colleagues from across the division and student groups to create rich opportunities for our students. She is well liked and respected within our department. Being one of the more seasoned coordinators she is looked upon as a mentor to new coordinators. She is always willing to lend a helping hand or an ear to support her teammates.
Passion: La’Keisha is passionate about the work she does for the AASC.
For the last three years, La’Keisha has utilized student feedback and formal assessment to guide her on creating more effective programming and creating new programs and services to meet the students’ needs and interests. The Diversity Ambassadors program has grown under her leadership. This year La’Keisha, along with Dr. Humber created a new experience for the Diversity Ambassadors program. 21 students this year traveled to Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana to trace the history of the Underground Railroad. Each year, student interest has grown and she has managed to find more funding through fundraising to open-up this opportunity to more students.
Quality: With limited resources, La’Keisha has found creative ways to ensure her programs and services maintain its integrity and quality. She has found campus partners, student groups and community partners to help fund and support her programs and services. Programs such as Kwanzaa, Kings and Queens Pageant, Gospel Luncheon, Pan-African Graduation Celebration and Diversity Ambassadors have gone through a major face-lift under her leadership. Students often have good feedback and speak of learning new things after attending AASC sponsored programs.
Richness of Diversity: La’Keisha’s core responsibility as coordinator is to promote awareness around diversity and its intersections. She has mobilized with the other Cultural Center coordinators to create programs that will move students beyond tolerance by challenging them to look at their identities through multiple lenses. The focuses of her programs are geared towards educating the campus community about diversity and the value of diversity. She understands that students enter into college with varying levels of identity development, so she has intentionally developed programs that will provide opportunities for students to explore and learn at all developmental and awareness levels.
In what ways does this person enhance or contribute to the Cal Poly Pomona campus community: La’Keisha has worked on changing the campus climate for Black students through education and outreach. She has been working with her student leaders to ensure the center and its programming reflects the Pan-African Diaspora. There is now more diversity within the AASC because of these efforts. Not only does she focus on the African American experience she has incorporated programs that reflects the vast experiences, heritage and culture across the globe. La’Keisha co-chairs the African American Task Force to recruit, admit, retain and graduate Black students. In collaboration with the task force, Black Faculty and Staff Association and student organizations, La’Keisha has been able to put on numerous outreach events to recruit Black students. La’Keisha spends her free time, when she is not away at meetings or running a program, advising student groups and mentoring students. She currently serves as campus advisor to 6 student groups: Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated; Black Student Union; Shades of Queens; Impact Movement; Black Business Student Association; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Students respect and appreciate La’Keisha’s leadership and her commitment to the Black community and beyond. Not only do students gravitate towards her for support, the faculty and staff on this campus do the same. Although La’Keisha is constantly pulled
in different directions, she always tries her best to give her all. Just this year, she helped the Black Faculty and Staff out with the Unity Luncheon, she designed a new Diversity Ambassadors destination in collaboration with Dr. Toni Humber, and she is helping the Black Alumni to get recharged.