The Multicultural Student Programs and Services office honored 30 college community members last Wednesday during their annual ExCEL awards ceremony.
The awards ceremony was held in the Stern Center ballroom on the fourth floor. The event was jam-packed as almost one hundred nominees, and their friends and loved ones filled up the ballroom. While the awards ceremony honored many faculty members, members of the administrative team on campus also assisted by passing out the awards to the winners.
As people filed into the room, there was a palpable feeling of excitement and uncertainty. Many attendees did not seem sure if they were nominees and many had never heard of the ExCEL awards at all. ExCEL stands for Excellence in Collegiate Education and leadership, and has been awarding faculty members and students who strive to create a more diverse campus since 2007.
As the awards ceremony started, exceptional students from every discipline were rewarded for their hard work. One stand out winner was Chak Or, who was honored as an exceptional student from the school of Education, Health and Human Performance. Or is a graduating senior who thanked the College broadly for all the opportunities he was afforded while at the school. One he was most proud of was his ability to visit Cambodia.
As a Cambodian American, Or often felt pressure to Americanize fully, and actually used the name “Jack” for many years. He thanked the College further for helping him explore the world and appreciate his culture sincerely.
Another standout winner was board of trustees member Demetria Noisette Clemons. Mrs. Clemons was awarded the President Theodore Stern Visionary Award for her commitment to diversity, inclusion and education on campus.
Mrs. Clemons is actually an alumnus of the College and was one of the first black students on campus in the early 70s. Mrs. Clemons spoke fondly of President Stern as he is the president credited with integrating the College of Charleston in the late 60s. Mrs. Clemons remembers President Stern coming up to her and her friends of color on campus and said that he always knew their names and what classes they were taking. Mrs. Clemons said she was grateful for President Stern and said that his leadership led the whole campus to be accepting of her and her friends.
As the ceremony came to a close, guests were ushered to the second floor where there were light hor ‘d oeuvres catered for all attendees. As honorees walked around with their awards, grazing on crab dip and crudite, the room was filled with congratulations and engaging conversations.
Award ceremonies like this are so crucial for rewarding important work, activism and achievement on campus. Everyone at the awards was happy for the winners and excited about the work they were doing. For a full list of Wednesday’s winners, check out the ExCEL website and mark your calendars for next year.