Published: May 8, 2017

Each year the Multicultural Business Student Association (MBSA) honors students and recognizes their achievements with this academic awards banquet. The theme of this year’s banquet was empowering each other and embracing differences – an opportunity to recognize the value of diversity in achieving excellence.

One of the highlights from the night was Leeds student, Ana Rios Salgado who spoke of the challenges of being different while trying to fit in with her message: “Our society is one that likes ‘sameness,’ and as much as some of us think we choose difference, we fall into the habit of wanting to fit in and not necessarily choosing to stand out. With the help of the Leeds Diverse Scholars Program, the Office of Diversity Affairs, and the Multicultural Business Student Association, I was able to understand the categories of my own life and learn to embrace it and be proud of who I am.”

Ana was chosen to be this year’s student speaker because she embodied the spirit of the banquet’s theme and for her exceptional qualities as a leader and role model for her peers.

The event celebrated students by honoring their academic achievements and the impact they have made at Leeds.

  • Outstanding awards for first-year, sophomore, junior and senior students went to those who demonstrated academic performance, leadership experience, engagement in key activities and other exceptional qualifications.
    • Outstanding First-year awards: Ellyson Beyer and Mustafa Mobarez
    • Outstanding Sophomore awards: Hayley Porter and Kade Hiller
    • Outstanding Junior awards: Anna La and Randy Gardner
    • Outstanding Senior awards: Oksana Schuppan and Weston Ballard
  • The Visionary Award went to Madison Polansky for promoting diversity and demonstrating outstanding role model and leadership skills and talents.
  • The Community Service Award went to Jaideep Mangat for his dedication to volunteering in the community and his dedication to promoting equity and access to opportunity.
  • The Faculty/Staff Impact Award was given to Lorna Christoff for her support of the mission and vision of the Office of Diversity Affairs and for actively contributing to student success while promoting inclusivity and diversity.
  • Receiving the MBSA Excellence Award was Alexandria Espinoza for her demonstrated service, leadership, academic achievement and dedication to the university community.

Headlining the event, was the keynote speaker, Sonya Reed, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Communications and Public Affairs for Phillips 66. Sonya encouraged the students in the room to be open-minded on decisions in their career path. “Embrace the decisions and take the kind of opportunities that are interesting or challenging and not necessarily the ones that are always the next logical step,” said Reed. She offered advice through five principals that helped her advance her career. Her principles of success were:

  1. Hard work pays off – so always give maximum effort.
  2. Always get up – growth happens when you choose to respond to adversity.
  3. Feedback is essential – even from your toughest critics.
  4. People remember people – be your authentic self.
  5. Do what you love – follow your heart and seek out opportunities that excite you.

Kristi Ryujin, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion also commented, “Leeds students are traditionally high-performers, delivering in both academic and personal excellence. We are excited to see their potential as they embrace challenges and empower their peers to achieve success.”

The banquet concluded with a traditional passing of the torch ceremony and closing remarks. The ceremony featured recent MBSA alumni who honored the graduating seniors through a passing of a ceremonial stole. Alumni lay scarves on the seniors as a symbol to recognize the next generation of leaders who will continue to uphold the values of diversity. The themes echoed throughout the night, demonstrating that diversity is not an identity but a differentiator.

Visit to learn more about the Office of Diversity Affairs at Leeds.