Benny Tillman

I am nominating:Tashiana Bryant
Years of Service at Cal Poly:4.5
Department:Office of Student Life & Cultural Centers
Position:African American Student Center Coordinator
Why are you nominating this person? Why do you think he/she deserves the award?

As the Coordinator of the African American Student Center, Tash is passionate about social justice issues, which align with what the students challenges and concerns as a marginalized student population on campus. The students want to bring more awareness to campus about issues that are important to them, and she advises them on how to do so effectively while still supporting and challenging their journeys. I’ve heard from many students that “Tash is my mentor”, and anyone that sees her interacts with students can see why.

Tash is a passionate and student centered professional who challenges and supports students in their growth and development. She is very connected and informed about community issues facing Black students and their community. She is able to create various programs to proactively address them and creates learning opportunities for students and campus community to learn from one another. She is collaborative and has worked strategically with a number of other cultural centers to host programs and events that address intersectional issues, such as the Blaxicans of Los Angeles lecture and discussion, Black Queer identity, Black Academic Excellence, spoken word, etc.

Tash is the true definition of a team player. For example, she is always willing to help out with presentations or resources for Bronco LEAD, our department’s leadership development workshop and programs, interconnecting her with a diverse group of students from the entire campus. She’s not required to help out, but if it’s for the good of the students, she will volunteer to do so. Her go-getter mentality is appreciated as she is always volunteering herself for her own growth and development, but ultimately for the betterment of the students we serve at Cal Poly Pomona.

In what way(s) does this person enhance or contribute to the Cal Poly Pomona campus community?
Tash helps to bring departments together in a variety of ways, but mostly through her natural ability to connect with others and create meaningful relationships, personal and professional. Through her previous work with University Housing Services, her affinity group, and other connections, Tash enhances the community by bringing in those resources to the students. Tash is a knowledge seeker! She just recently begin her doctoral journey at Cal State Long Beach so that she can continue to contribute to the student success model that the Cultural Centers are committed to at Cal Poly Pomona. Her desire to continue her education will only enhance the student population further, as well as add valuable best practice models by engaging with other educators and scholars to assist our students in succeeding.

Tash is fairly new to her current role as the coordinator of the African American Student Center, but has been able to strengthen upon the Diversity Ambassadors Program and take it to higher level of academic caliber, infusing the learn by doing philosophy of this campus. The Diversity Ambassadors Program takes a group of 15-20 students to a trip of the southern states to visit key historical sites during the Civil a Rights era. With her leadership, students receive guided tours and engage with key folks who experienced first-hand the struggles faced and still face in regards to civil rights and liberties. Tash has been instrumental in creating programs, community discussions, and coordinating among various spaces on campus to help students in the black community voice their feelings and struggles in light of the social tensions across the nation and the Black Lives Matter movement. Her lived experiences are real, and I admire her for her ability to allow for her heart to be open in order to meet students where they are at, feeling all the feelings that comes up when our identities are so interwoven into the work that we do. Tash does not shy away from advocating for her students and is often the first to assist the campus to create a sense of understanding, followed with action-oriented steps.

Please select 2 of the 6 Division of Student Affairs values for which your nominee best exemplifies:
☐X Student Centered Philosopy
☐ Integrity
☐ Interconnectedness
☐ Environmental
☐ X Passion
☐ Quality
☐ Richness of Diversity
☐ Sustainablity

Please share how your nominee exemplifies value #1:
Tashiana is one of the most student-centered members of Student Affairs around. She is constantly meeting with students to seek their input regarding their CPP experience so that she can work to help improve their college experience. She has a great passion for the work that she does. She has worked tirelessly to improve the retention and graduation rates for students, especially African American students via programs and initiatives such as the Diversity Ambassador program and Project SUCCESS. Tashiana has been an active volunteer member of the Black Faculty & Staff Association in which she serves as the primary liaison to students and has been instrumental and helping to recruit and reach out to incoming Bronco students. Tashiana deserves the STAR award not simply because of all the work that she does, but more importantly because of her heart that she puts into her work!

Student centered philosophy is demonstrated through Tash's leadership skills and positive role modeling with her student staff as well as students who regularly frequent the space. She is always has a smile on her face, is positive, approachable, and makes herself readily available for students who may need a little nudge to do better academically or those who need on-going support throughout their years here at CPP. Tash has created a culture of academic success and accomplishments but awarding those students who improve in GPA, those who reach certain GPA and milestones by rewarding them with announcements to the community her listserve, a t-shirt, and other ways to encourage students to continue to be successful and graduate.

“Tash, is by far one of the most important people in my life. Since I've met her she has supported and mentored me through all aspects of my college career. She never fails to keep a fun, safe, and genuine environment in the African American Student Center. Her love for the community and the students she works with is unparalleled. She is consistent with checking in with students and heavily promotes academic excellence and student leadership in the black community. Tash tirelessly advocates for her students and makes sure that they have what they need to thrive at Cal Poly Pomona.”

Please share how your nominee exemplifies value #2:
Tash is passionate about working with students, and it is demonstrated by her intentionality in creating learning moments through group discussions, workshops, large scale programs, etc. to help students learn well as to be able to process feelings and thoughts around issues of discrimination and race relations. Tash puts 110% of her energy and passion into her work as the coordinator and often times will find her here hosting and supporting late nights during the week as well as weekend events. Her role doesn't end at 5pm. The role she is in as a professional is 24/7. She lives the daily reality of the work that she does. Her passion to help students find their voices in their struggle to make sense around social institutes is evidence in creating spaces, programs, events, and collaboration across campus to address community issues and working to find ways to support student retention and success at CPP. Tash is truly deserving of this STAR award!