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Honorees embody ‘Spirit of La Verne’

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The University of La Verne hosted its second annual Spirit of La Verne Awards Tuesday, at the La Verne Church of the Brethren. Presented by President Devorah Lieberman, the Spirit of La Verne Award went to Sharon Cruz-McKinney, community relations and outreach director in the admissions office. Cruz-McKinney was awarded for her exceptional work on behalf of the University exemplified by her leadership and participation in work toward the core mission of the institution. / photo by Michelle Leon

The University of La Verne hosted its second annual Spirit of La Verne Awards Tuesday, at the La Verne Church of the Brethren. Presented by President Devorah Lieberman, the Spirit of La Verne Award went to Sharon Cruz-McKinney, community relations and outreach director in the admissions office. Cruz-McKinney was awarded for her exceptional work on behalf of the University exemplified by her leadership and participation in work toward the core mission of the institution. / photo by Michelle Leon

Lauren Crumbaker
Staff Writer

Sharon Cruz-McKinney, director of community relations and outreach in the office of admissions, took home the Spirit of La Verne Award Tuesday at the La Verne Church of the Brethren.

The award is given to a person that embodies each of the five Spirit of La Verne Awards’ categories, which include community engagement, diversity and inclusivity, interfaith cooperation and the Newman Civic Fellow Award.

President Devorah Lieberman presented the award to Cruz-McKinney and a video played with students and colleagues expressing their love and appreciation for her leadership and commitment.

“It is really great to have this recognition by my colleagues and everyone at the University,” Cruz-McKinney said.

Upon accepting her award, she expressed how her love of the University of La Verne has grown over her 17-year career at ULV.

“I love you more than bacon,” Cruz-McKinney said.

Along with Cruz-McKinney, the second annual Spirit of La Verne Awards honored other exemplary members of the University community.

“There are many people around this campus that are doing amazing work,” said Marisol Morales, director of the office of civic and community engagement.

“This gives us the opportunity to recognize these people in relation to those values that we hold so dearly here at the University of La Verne.”

Abril Camarena, junior criminology major, left with the Newman Civic Fellow Award for her dedication to the community.

Camarena organized a student rally to raise awareness for the 43 missing students in Mexico. She is also involved in different organizations, including the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

The Community Engage­ment Award was given to those who aim to participate in service endeavors.

Community Engagement Award recipients included ULV student Xue Wong, ULV alumnus Michael Vestino, Assistant Dean for Regional and Online Campuses Carrie Lewis Hasse, Regional Campus Director for the Kern County Campus Nora Dominguez and Associate Professor of Biology Kat Weaver.

The Tri-City Mental Health Center also received this award for its constant contributions to the University.

Tri-City provides mental health training to students, faculty and staff.

Tri-City also works to write grants with the University to strengthen mental health services.

Diversity and Inclusivity Award recipients included psychology major Roxana Bautistia, alumnus Paul Larson, Vice President of Facilities and Technology Clive Houston-Brown, and Professor of Public Administration Matthew Witt.

“I feel very grateful to receive this award,” Houston-Brown said.

“I am humbled, and think this is a very important award,” he said.

The Secular Student Alliance, Professor of Management Issam Ghazzawi, Cantor Paul Buch from Temple Beth Israel in Pomona, and the City of Knowledge Islamic School in Pomona all received Interfaith Cooperation Awards at the ceremony.

The process of choosing award recipients began last semester.

The award selection committee consisted of students, faculty and staff members, who went through each candidate application.

“Everyone was very deserving of these awards,” said Jacqueline Perez Valencia, junior sociology major and award selection committee member.

“We just saw some people stand out more than others,” she said.

The Spirit of La Verne Awards bring together administrators, students, faculty, staff and community members to celebrate the characteristics and values that the institution considers to be in line with the University mission.

“Having this award ceremony really makes a statement for the University,” said Lili Gradilla, coordinator of the co-curricular community engagement program. “It puts us out there in the sense of we ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk,’ and this is a great platform to showcase that,” she said.

Lauren Crumbaker can be reached at lauren.crumbaker@laverne.edu and on Twitter @lcrumbaker.

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