Nicky Damania (right) accepts the 2007 Miguel Ornelas Award from Dr. Peg Yacobucci, chair of the Human Relations Commission.
Nicky Damania named winner of Miguel Ornelas Award
This year’s recipient of the Miguel Ornelas Award is Nicky Damania, a graduate assistant in the Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives, where he created and runs the center’s LGBTA-Q (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally-Queer/Questioning) Resource Center. A master’s degree student in the Career and Technology Education program, he received the award at the Latino Issues Conference April 12.
The Ornelas award is granted annually by the BGSU Human Relations Commission to acknowledge contributions to the University community and to inspire activism and service. The award recognizes an individual, group or organization on campus whose programs, services or actions have significantly enhanced positive human relations at BGSU. Candidates are nominated by a community member and reviewed by the commission.
In her nomination letter for Damania, student Christina Bak cited his “tremendous efforts in fostering a Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Ally-Queer safe and friendly campus by his creation of the LGBTA-Q Resource Center.” Damania created Safe Space workshops to train students, faculty and staff on LGBT issues and support mechanisms. He has also worked with other students and the student organization Vision to produce a LGBTA-Q newsletter and the annual Rainbow Dayz week of programming.
Through his efforts, the BGSU community has had the opportunity to experience many special programs and events, including a visit from MTV’s “Road Rules” stars Shane and Darrel, a performance by Jade Esteban Estrada of his “ICONS: Lesbian and Gay History of the World Vol. 1,” and two LGBTA-Q symposia.
In addition to his work for the resource center, Damania has been very active in the Graduate Student Senate and the Graduate Students of Technology group, Bak said.
She concluded her nomination letter by noting: “Nicky has proven his passion and commitment to help students work and live productively in our ever-changing global society, while understanding and appreciating diversity and equality amongst all individuals and even within themselves.”
“The Human Relations Commission wholeheartedly agreed with this assessment,” said commission Chair Dr. Peg Yacobucci in presenting Damania the award. In accepting, Damania said, “The most memorable experience is being nominated by a fellow student, and having a very supportive staff at the CMAI. They’ve always been there for me and have always shown support for my ‘crazy ideas,’” he added humorously.
The award is given in honor of Dr. Miguel Ornelas, a former Human Relations Commission member and director of affirmative action at BGSU. Before his death in 1989, Ornelas served as an advocate for issues of diversity, as head of the Ohio Hispanic Institute of Opportunity, and as a member of the University's Graduate Student Senate, Third World Graduate Association and La Union de Estudiantes Latinos. He was the recipient of the first Hispanic Award from Project Search. The Miguel Ornelas Award is intended to bring to the attention of the University community the actions and services of those who reflect Dr. Ornelas' values.
April 16, 2007