Two individuals were recognized for their diversity efforts at Kansas State University Tuesday.
Commerce Bank and the W.T. Kemper Foundation Presidential awards for diversity excellence were handed out to mathematics professor, Marianne Korten, and veterinary medicine student, Shumin Li. As part of Martin Luther King Jr. observance week, K-State held a virtual reception, Tuesday, to honor the recipients. During the reception, Madaí Rivera, assistant director for student engagement, shared words from one of Dr. Korten’s former students.
“‘When I questioned whether I am or I was enough, it was Dr. Korten that assured me that I was more than capable of succeeding,'” Rivera said.
Korten was the recipient of the presidential faculty and staff award for distinguished services to historically under-represented minority students. Be Stoney, interim chief diversity and inclusion officer, added more about the work of Korten.
“You personify mentorship for historically under-represented students seeking a mentor,” said Stoney. “You have made a difference in their lives of many students from these under-represented populations.”
Korten has served as director of Summer Undergraduate Mathematics Research (SuMAR MAth REU), fostered partnerships with campus programs such as the McNair Scholars and Developing Scholars. She has also served as treasurer of the Association of Hispanic Faculty and Staff at K-State, along with many other organizations. Korten encouraged others in higher education to get involved and be there for the students.
“It is necessary to see the student and their need, because missed opportunities are ducks that were not lined up and result in lesser salary when they graduate,” Korten said.
She expressed sincere gratitude to many, including mentors, students, faculty, staff, and even the award sponsor.
“I really want to thank Commerce Bank for putting their money where their heart is, because without them, this award would not be validated. Thank you immensely from all of my heart because this is really important work, and things would not be what they are if it weren’t for you.”
Shumin Li, the recipient of the presidential student award for distinguished services in enhancing multiculturalism, echoed Korten, thanking family, friends, colleagues, mentors, and even some of the complete strangers.
“Many of them went out of their way to offer me a hand,” Li added. “Spending time with me, constantly lifting me up from the bewildering mist of life with their positive energy and bright perspective of life, and most importantly, they taught me how powerful kindness and devotion could be and how much I could do for my community and everyone around me.”
Li has headed many student organizations whose focus is inclusiveness, including VOICE K-State- Veterinarians for One Inclusive Community for Empowerment. Li said she enjoys helping not only herself, but also others who are finding a name for themselves.
“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
The entire reception can be viewed below.