ULV women of color honored through Black Girls Rock

Andrea Molina
Staff Writer

In honor of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, the University’s Center for Multicultural Services hosted a “Black Girls Rock” awards event to honor Black women across the University,  with student, faculty and staff honorees. 

Roughly 20 people attended the Zoom event held at the end of February – at the transition between Black History and Women’s History months. 

“There are Black women at ULV that rock and we need to remember and celebrate them,” said Misty Levingston, associate director for multicultural affairs and Black student services, who organized the event with senior psychology major Nia Mcmillon. Mcmillon was also an honoree.

Among the awardees, Janice Deguerio, senior psychology major, was the honoree for undergraduate students. Her personal aspiration is to leave a positive impact with those who cross paths with her. During her time at ULV, Deguerio has been involved in cross country, basketball, track and field, the Black Student Union, the Honors Program, orientation week, and is currently an active member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority. 

“Black Girls Rock taught me to celebrate the little things and daily accomplishments,” Deguerio said. 

Ashley Joseph, ULV, doctoral candidate in organizational leadership, was the honoree for the graduate student category. She said she is a passionate advocate of civic engagement and community dialogue. 

Niki Elliot, co-director for the Center of Neurodiversity, Learning, and Wellness, was recognized as the faculty honoree.

In 2019, Elliot founded the Mindful Leaders Project, a program designed to help teachers, school leaders and program administrators increase their personal well-being while utilizing mindfulness strategies to lead conscious social change in schools. 

“As a black woman, I’m just honored to be part of the healing energy on our campus,” Elliot said. 

Alexandra Burrel, chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, was the honoree among University administration. Burrel’s professional career has been focused on student development, diversity, and inclusion. Prior to La Verne, she worked for Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, Morgan State University and  Howard University.

“I am excited to be part of a community that celebrates each other like this,” Burrel said. “The love, the support, the community that I’ve felt at ULV affirms who I am and the light I hope to share with this community.” 

 Ebony Williams, assistant director of the Academic Success Center, was the honoree in the staff category. Williams also serves as an advisor for numerous clubs and organizations, an executive board member of two alumni affinity groups and a co-chair of the Black Faculty and Staff Association. 

In both her career and volunteer effort, Williams strives to promote equity and the pursuit of equality.  

Mcmillon was the honoree for the CAPA student category. A member of the Psi Chi Honors Society, she is also a Black Student Union member, along with being the first CAPA student to hold a senator position for the Associated Students of the University of La Verne during the 2019-2020 academic year. 

“I keep getting inspired by these amazing black women all over the world,” said Mcmillon. “It is an honor to be recognized as part of this change.” 

Black Girls Rock was inspired by the University’s convocations, where students are recognized for merit, Levingston said. 

Levingston said she hopes to make the event an annual affair, and a more formal one, for which winners are selected by committee via a more formal entry process. 

“Black women do a lot and oftentimes they don’t get appreciated for everything that they do,” Levingston said.    

Apart from the public recognition, there were no formal prizes for this year’s winners. 

Andrea Molina can be reached at andrea.molinamartinez@laverne.edu.

Andrea Molina
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