Published: March 5, 2021

The University of Colorado President’s Diversity Award selection committee has announced its 2021 award and commendation recipients, six of whom are affiliated with the CU Boulder campus.

Four individuals received awards, three of whom are affiliated with CU Boulder. They are Tiara R. Na’puti, assistant professor of communication in the College of Media, Communication and Information; Zabrian Oglesby, assistant director for leadership and social justice in Resident Life; and graduate student Katherine Rainey. Additionally, Andrea Gerard Gonzalez, associate professor of clinical practice at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus’ School of Medicine, was recognized as one of this year’s award recipients. A CU Connections article March 4 recognized all of the newly appointed distinguished professors across the CU system.

The award recognizes significant achievements of university community members in developing a culturally and intellectually diverse university community reflective of inclusive excellence. Awardees, each of whom receives $2,000, engage in meaningful diversity activities beyond their primary CU responsibilities.

Also receiving an award for its work as a unit was CU Boulder's STEM Routes, a student organization founded in 2018 and run by traditionally low-income, under-represented and first-generation graduate students. Through its programs, STEM Routes provides invaluable mentorship to the next generation of first-generation and underrepresented graduate students in STEM.

CU Boulder's Center for Teaching and Learning and its inclusive pedagogy lead, Becca Ciancanelli, both received commendations from the selection committee.

This year's award winners will be recognized in a virtual award reception set for April 23.

Tiara R. Na’puti

PhD | Assistant Professor of communication

Tiara R. Na’puti, Ph.D., is a Chamoru scholar (Guåhan/Guam) whose research focuses on Indigenous resistance to processes of colonization and militarization in the Mariana Islands archipelago and throughout Oceania. Na’puti works with organizations addressing immigration rights and issues facing Native and Indigenous Pacific Islander populations. She has joined several delegations to testify at the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) on the political status of Guåhan. Her work has recently appeared in CommonDreamsIn These Times and Latinx Spaces, and she was interviewed on RT News about the colonial status of Guåhan and the impacts of militarism.

She is an executive board member at the CU Boulder Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies (CNAIS), a member of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) and the National Communication Association (NCA). Her research has been published in journals such as American Quarterly, Amerasia Journal, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies and the Quarterly Journal of Speech. Na’puti earned a master’s and doctorate in communication studies and a certificate in Native American and Indigenous studies from the University of Texas at Austin.  

Zabrian Oglesby

Assistant director for leadership and social justice, Resident Life

Zabrian Oglesby is committed to providing tailored training and programming to promote diversity and inclusion in Residence Life at CU Boulder. Oglesby sees each student as an individual and strives to ensure that every student feels seen and valued. Ze has served on the Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Committee for the Division of Student Affairs and chaired the Residence Life Social Justice and Inclusion Committee. In partnership with committee members and campus partners, Oglesby facilitated spaces where the value of social justice was explored by residential students and staff. These spaces allowed for others to be their authentic selves and reflect on where they could continue to grow on their journey with diversity and inclusion. 

Ze provided regular training at Residence Life departmental meetings on timely topics that include National Coming Out Day, Indigenous People’s Day, equity around voting, social identities and many other themes that help develop and sustain diversity and inclusion in Residence Life. Ze also supported hall directors in navigating tough conversations with staff by providing them with individual education and conversational skills about racial injustice and other social justice topics. Oglesby’s leadership has made a significant impact on residential students and the greater CU community through increased awareness and education on diversity and inclusion development.

Katherine Rainey

Graduate student, physics

Over the past five years, Katherine “Katie” Rainey has been a committed leader in diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM. As a leader of CU-Prime—a student-run, diversity-focused organization—Rainey facilitates organizer meetings, mentors students, presents to STEM departments and engages with campus stakeholders. She was closely involved in the creation and mentorship of the undergraduate Women in Physics organization at CU, and also was a member of the Representation, Retention and Recruitment standing committee in the Physics Department. In connection to that standing committee, Rainey has been involved in offering regular events to learn about and discuss diversity, equality and inclusion issues in the department, known as “Equity, Inclusion, and Cookies.” When CU hosted an American Physical Society Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics in 2017, Rainey led a mental health workshop at that conference.

Her dedication to equitable mentorship in STEM extends beyond higher education. She facilitated a workshop for women in STEM at a Denver High School College and Career Readiness Conference in 2019, and taught physics to high school students from areas located on or near 13 major Native American reservations and communities as part of CU’s Upward Bound program in 2015 and 2016. Through her activities and leadership, she has impacted hundreds of CU students at all levels, inspiring many others to seek leadership roles in addressing diversity, equality and inclusion issues in STEM.

Becca Ciancanelli

Inclusive pedagogy lead, Center for Teaching & Learning

Ciancanelli was named inclusive pedagogy lead for the Center for Teaching & Learning in 2020. She has taught chemistry for 17 years at CU Boulder as an instructor for the Student Academic Success Center (SASC). SASC is a multicultural learning community that serves underrepresented, first-generation, low-income, and other nontraditional students by providing equal opportunity for academic, personal, and career success. Ciancanelli was awarded Student Affairs Faculty of the Year in 2015.  

Ciancanelli became SASC’s first STEM coordinator in 2013, building a program to offer gateway courses in biology, chemistry and economics. She is conducting research in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry to investigate metacognitive strategies in large and small classrooms at CU Boulder, hiring undergraduate SASC students to code and analyze student writing. This research informs workshops on metacognition that she has offered for various groups across campus. 

Ciancanelli received a bachelor of science in chemistry from Harvey Mudd College, a master of arts in teaching science from Colorado College and a doctoral degree in inorganic chemistry from CU Boulder.