Celebrating diversity through awards


Newman University Student Life recognizes the unsung heroes of both the Newman and Wichita communities through awards that acknowledge values such as unity, kindness and ambition in its recipients.

The 2020 and 2021 awards looked a bit different due to the pandemic, moving everything to a virtual setting.

But that didn’t hinder the opportunity to honor those who are doing all they can to transform society.

2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Awards

The Student Life Department at Newman University held its 3rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Walk and community awards program Jan. 18 on the Newman Student Life Facebook.

This year’s virtual program featured Newman University students who highlighted not only King but also the unsung heroes and sheroes who helped him bring his dream to fruition.

The program concluded with the announcement of the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award winners.

The awards honor individuals for their service in keeping with the principles and ideals of King.

Nominations began in November 2020 and concluded Dec. 7, 2020.

The 2021 categories and their final two nominees were:

  • Newman University faculty, staff and alumni — Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach Clarissa Krum and Associate Professor and Director of Theatre Mark Manette
  • Newman University students — senior biology major Gabrielle Altenor and senior social work major Deborah Moss
  • Members or organizations of the Wichita community — Stephanie Byers, state representative for the 86th district, and Jermane Milton, award-winning gospel artist and minister of music

The 2021 recipients were Krum, Altenor and Byers.

“We want to celebrate and honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights pioneer who fought tirelessly for equity, inclusion and justice,” said Joseph Shepard, director of multicultural engagement and campus life. “The unity walk and celebration are a way for us to keep his dream alive by celebrating individuals in our community who live out Dr. King’s vision.”

2020 SHEro Awards

Newman University was proud to once again honor a special group of influential women from the Newman community.

“The SHERO Awards were created in 2019 to recognize the barrier-breaking women of the Newman University community who go over and beyond to create long-lasting change in the Wichita and Newman community,” said Shepard.

He added that beyond recognizing incredibly impactful women, “the awards were created to ensure that we’re promoting an atmosphere of equity, equality and inclusion.”

Shepard reinforced the need to make a stand against gender-based financial discrimination in addition to the importance of fighting for equality in general.

“Data states that women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar. As we look at the pay gap for women of color, the difference is significantly larger. This is one of many examples that highlight the need to advocate for women to be acknowledged and recognized for the value they bring to the table.

“All women of the Newman community are eligible for nominations,” stated Shepard. “We sent out a campus-wide invitation for nominations. Judges were community members who reviewed each nomination and scored each nominee individually. Scores were then tabulated and the nominee with the highest score was deemed the winner.”

In April 2020, four women were recognized, each of a different category:

  • Faculty SHERO — Amy Siple, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing
  • Staff SHERO — Angela McCoy, assistant director of MBA and degree completion program
  • Student SHERO — Kimberly Pham
  • Administration SHERO — Joanna Pryor

Shepard said, “We look forward to continuing our efforts to acknowledge the women of our Newman community through various avenues.”