Multicultural Resource Center honors 3 in College of Education

April 16, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The University's Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) has recognized one College of Education staff member and two students in its annual awards presentation. Brenda Martinez, administrative support assistant in the College's Office of Multicultural Programs, is the inaugural recipient of the MRC Faculty and Staff Diversity Recognition Award. Students Krishawna Goins and Rabiyatu Jalloh won the Student Leadership Award and Volunteer Service Award, respectively.

The faculty/staff award was created to recognize those who have consistently promoted multiculturalism, equity and inclusion, as well as concern for and sensitivity to the needs of multicultural students, above and beyond their job description.

Martinez's nomination was assembled by a group of students, with the support of 19 students whose voices convey her commitment to their well-being and success. Her nominator describes her as remarkable, consistent, dependable, positive, honest and ethical. She shares about Brenda "she is extremely dedicated to our mission, placing the students' needs ahead of personal convenience" and "she cultivates a climate that stimulates motivation, encourages participation and initiative, and fosters cooperation and productivity."

Affectionately referred to as Auntie Brenda by students, Martinez has become a vital resource for their academic, social and emotional support. It would be hard to include quotes from all the students who shared narratives about Brenda, but here are two that summarize what she means to the University and to multicultural students:

"Her warm, welcoming energy made me feel completely welcomed at Penn State for the first time since moving to State College. I see this same energy being shared with each student that walks through the doors. … There are very few spaces where students can be authentically and unapologetically who they are. Brenda's presence allows for spaces to feel safe and supported."

And finally, "she is a ray of light, everyone's biggest champion, and is always pushing us to be the shining star she knows we are! … Brenda's service to students is truly unmatched."

Martinez also won the Outstanding Staff Award in the College of Education this spring.

Goins won the Student Leadership Award, which is awarded to the student who has provided outstanding leadership in activities (such as student government, social services, mass media, etc.) at Penn State. This person often also is a spokesperson and role model for multicultural students.

Goins is a graduating senior in elementary and early childhood education with a minor in education policy studies. She has maintained consistent academic excellence while engaging in numerous leadership and outreach activities. She currently is a Professional Development School (PDS) intern in the State College Area School District.

Goins has served as the recruitment and retention chair and dean's events chair for the College of Education Student Council; the political advocacy chair for the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association; and a D.C. Social Justice Fellow. She also is the recipient of the 2019 College of Education Undergraduate Leadership and Service Award. Goins has focused on increasing equity and multiculturalism in education by building partnerships between students and administrators to work to enhance the experiences of Penn State students of color. She said she is very grateful for the experiences, opportunities and family she has cultivated at Penn State.

Jalloh won the Volunteer Service Award, which is awarded to the student who has given an exceptional amount of volunteer effort to on-campus or community service organizations and who has made an important contribution to those organizations.

Jalloh is majoring in education and public policy, and African-American studies, with a minor in civic and community engagement. She is a Brook J. Lenfest Scholar and a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. Her strong commitment to social justice has influenced her research, educational engagement and service work.

As a McNair Scholar, she wrote a paper titled, "Staying Alive: Black Women's Resistance During Slavery." Jalloh is an alumna of the D.C. Social Justice Fellowship and currently is involved with the Restorative Justice Initiative.

Among her service projects, she developed a learner-centered, values-based curriculum on social justice issues for an under-resourced, high-need high school in Washington, D.C., and co-taught an arts and creative writing course at the Centre County Correctional Facility. Jalloh is a former president of the Writers Organized to Represent Diverse Stories group, a former BLUEprint mentor, an international slam co-champion, and a member of the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational Team.

Jalloh also was recognized with the Stand Up Award from the Rock Ethics Institute this spring. First established in 2008, the annual Stand Up Awards recognize Penn State undergraduate students who have demonstrated ethical leadership by "standing up" for a cause, idea or belief. By honoring and celebrating their courageous examples, the awards aim to inspire others at Penn State to become ethical leaders.

  • Brenda Martinez

    Brenda Martinez is the inaugural recipient of the MRC Faculty and Staff Diversity Recognition Award.

    IMAGE: Steve Tressler
  • Krishawna Goins

    Krishawna Goins won the 2019 Student Leadership Award from the University’s Multicultural Resource Center.

    IMAGE: Nontalie Morrow
  • Rabiyatu Jalloh

    Rabiyatu Jalloh won the Volunteer Service Award from the University’s Multicultural Resource Center.

    IMAGE: Nontalie Morrow
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Last Updated April 22, 2019