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Student receives award for involvement in community

February 24, 2011

Nikki Shonoiki, a senior majoring in intercultural communications studies, has been selected as a recipient of the University of Wisconsin System’s 2011 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award, according to the UW System award letter.

Shonoiki received the award based on her extraordinary campus and community involvement in diversity.

“Over the years she has studied at UWRF, her leadership and vision have inspired others to take action for social and environmental justice,” said Rise UP Advisor and Professor of English Greta Gaard.

Shonoiki has had a huge impact on the campus, said Rellen Hardtke, faculty advisor for the Gender Sexuality Alliance.

Shonoiki has been involved in numerous activities on campus.  She co-founded Rise UP for Women’s Rights in 2008 along with Tracey Pollock, a former student.  This is an organization that works to bring women’s rights into legislation, and takes care of reproductive health by working with Choice USA.  The group has organized campus events, which include Take Back the Night, a Reproductive Justice Flag Demonstration and the Vagina Monologues.

Shonoiki also served as the Diversity and Women’s Initiatives Director on the Student Senate, where she helped facilitate diversity awards that worked to further inclusivity. 

In addition, she also served as a Pierce County Board Supervisor, where she was the youngest and first African-American, woman to be elected into such a position.

Shonoiki is currently serving as the co-diversity programmer with Falcon Programs.  She works to help manage the Diversity Organization Coalition, according to Shonoiki’s resume.

“UWRF has come alive with the vitality and leadership of Nikki Shonoiki.  She richly deserves this award,” Gaard said.

On March 26, Shonoiki will receive the award during the Women and LGBTQ Studies Conference luncheon at UW-Madison as a representative of the UW-River Falls campus, said Shonoiki.

At the conference, Shonoiki will be one of 16 recipients representing the UW System’s four-year universities, along with a representative from UW Colleges and UW System
Administration, according to the Women’s Studies Consortium website.

According to the website: “The UW System Outstanding Women of Color in Education Awards were initiated in 1994 to acknowledge the ties and shared concerns among administrators, faculty, staff, and students within Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies, and to uphold a continuing commitment to Plan 2008: Education Quality through Racial and Ethnic Diversity.”

In order to receive the award, Shonoiki had to first be nominated and selected among other UWRF students, staff and faculty.

“In October, the UW System contacts the Chief Diversity Officer on every campus, who happens to be Andriel Dees.  The college is then given until December to select who receives the award by contacting those who work with diversity.  I was nominated by Greta Gaard,” Shonoiki said.

Once She was nominated, she also had to submit a resume, a letter of her achievements and a recommendation letter from faculty, said Shonoiki.

“It was an interesting process because it doesn’t involve the whole campus,” Shonoiki said.

Grace Adofoli, a junior majoring in psychology, said that the award is something to be respected because it acknowledges women of color who work hard.

“The award means that Nikki is a phenomenal woman and a phenomenal black woman.  It also means that UWRF is raising up a great generation of young philosophical black women,” said Adofoli.

According to Shonoiki, the award means that her hard work is paying off and being recognized.

“To be honored by the UW System is very important to me specifically because of my work within the UW System.  I just love it so much,” Shonoiki said.

UWRF is better place for having these exceptional people on our campus, Hardtke said.

“The award reflects the importance of having a diverse body of students, faculty and staff,” Hardtke said.

Shonoiki said she is honored to be receiving the award on behalf of UWRF.

“The award has only been around for 15 years, which means it is fairly new,” Shonoiki said.  “It is very significant to know you’re one of the women receiving it.”

“Nikki is a good representation of what women can be and can do,” Adofoli said.  “Her receiving the award says be who you are, own yourself, own your body, own your diversity and your ethnicity.  It speaks to a lot of women on campus who are working hard and standing up for their rights.”