Office of Multicultural Affairs to host annual Unity Banquet

Grace Howard, Copy Editor

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On Friday, April 12, the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) will host its 29th Annual Unity Banquet & Scholarship Dinner. The banquet is a celebration of the academic accomplishments of underrepresented minority students and graduating students at Case Western Reserve University.

The evening will also serve as a fundraiser for scholarships to assist underrepresented minority students who are experiencing financial hardship and to support efforts for retention of those students in other ways, such as book scholarships, academic and networking opportunities and academic receptions. Finally, the event is a partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Admission and the Division of Enrollment Management set during Diversity Week and strives to attract prospective CWRU students and assist the offices in their recruitment efforts.

The theme for the Unity Banquet this year is “Passion for a Purpose.” Eleven Unity Banquet scholarships will be given out at the event, and other groups will also be giving out awards. These awards include Alianza Latina/Latin Alliance’s Leadership Excellence Award, the African American Campus Community Resource Group’s Leadership Award and First CWRU’s First Generation Scholarship.

The keynote speaker for the event is Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and an outspoken advocate for the human rights of immigrants. Vargas produced and directed “Documented,” a film that describes his own journey to America and outs himself as undocumented. In the fall of 2018, Vargas released his memoir “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen,” in which he discusses what it means to live in the United States with undocumented status and have to pass off as American. In addition to writing and producing, Vargas founded a non-profit organization, Define American, which works to utilize the power of stories to change the conversation about immigrants and immigration.

Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs Naomi Sigg said, “Not only is it [the Unity Banquet] a celebration of the academic and co-curricular achievements of our underrepresented and diverse student community in the form of awards, scholarships and recognition to those who are graduating, it is also a time for our entire community from prospective students to alumni to come together, celebrate and learn as we listen to nationally acclaimed speakers on diversity, inclusion and social justice topics. The night is always inspirational, celebratory and poignant. We celebrate the hard work and success of our students and look forward to another amazing evening this year.”

Assistant Director for Retention and Graduate Outreach Janee Kelly noted that “there is a saying that goes along the lines of, ‘do not wait until someone is gone to give them their flowers.’ Unity Banquet is about giving the students that enrich our campus, their flowers for all to see. It’s held every year to showcase the numerous accomplishments of our students from diverse communities. By giving awards and scholarships, we are publicly recognizing their brilliance. Unity Banquet is more than a fancy dinner and an opportunity to get dressed up. It is about showing our students that they matter and that their work is worth reward.”

Students interested in attending the banquet can register through the OMA CampusGroups page, and transportation will be provided to and from the venue.