Dighan Kelly, Medha Kadri, Crystal McCormick Ware, and Kari Kokka were honored at the University Club on January 17 as the 2019 winners of the Iris Marion Young Awards for Political Engagement, bestowed each year by the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, in recognition of faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduates who work to promote justice in the University, at the local or national level, or across the globe. Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd delivered the ceremony's opening remarks.
Dighan Kelly - Undergraduate Award
Dighan Kelly began working for NextGen America, registering close to a thousand students to vote and planned and funded various projects with other student groups. Partnered with Pitt Unmuted to approximate the number of students sexually assaulted on Pitt’s campus each year, based on the existing number from a 2015 Pitt News article. Organized an art installation on the William Pitt Union lawn entitled, “My Body Is My Own,” the installation explored rape culture, birth control access, bodily autonomy, and their intersectionality at Pitt through the voices of students. Also, served on the local International Women’s Strike chapter’s steering committee and as President of the Planned Parenthood Club on campus.
Medha Kadri - Graduate Award
Medha Kadri started her work as a counselor/mentor for VOICE4Girls, where she was trained to teach a curriculum designed to address issues like child marriage and early pregnancies. She graduated with a master’s in health psychology and worked for a child-rights focused Non-governmental organization called Mamidipudi Venkatarangaiah Foundation (MVF) that primarily rescued bonded child laborers and mainstreamed them back into school education. While at MVF she also trained the staff to implement an activity-based curriculum in various rural areas across South India and conducted an independent research study that aimed at understanding the patterns of student achievement and teacher efficacy at schools.
Crystal McCormick Ware - Staff Award
Crystal McCormick Ware currently serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at the University Library System (ULS), which is one of the first of its kind in terms of positions at an academic research library. She also serves as a founding member of the Greater Pittsburgh Higher Education Diversity Consortium, a group of Southwestern PA higher education professionals. In her early career at the University of Pittsburgh she directed the Welfare to Work program in the School of Social Work. This program trained life-long welfare recipients with job skills and job placement at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Where clients (mostly women) were able to empower themselves with careers. She also worked at the former School of Information Sciences and the ULS and has focused on diversity initiatives with recruitment, training, and programming.
Kari Kokka - Faculty Award
Kari Kokka is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. She researches student and teacher perspectives of Social Justice Mathematics. Her most recent publication is titled, “Healing-Informed Social Justice Mathematics: Promoting Students’ Sociopolitical Consciousness and Well-Being in Mathematics Class,” which investigates a sixth-grade mathematics teacher’s mathematics classroom and how she used Social Justice Mathematics tasks. In her own teaching, she incorporates social justice issues into course readings and assignments. She currently serves as the co-chair of the Critical Educators for Social Justice, as a new editorial board member of the Journal of Critical Education Policy Studies and a founding member of the Radical STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Making) Educators.