Augustana University diversity program wins national award

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A program at Augustana University is giving people the tools they need to help create a more inclusive environment.

Augustana University Assistant Director of Admission, Wendy Mamer, is a graduate of the Diversity Advocate Certification Program.

“I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about the world around us and my neighbors and how to be a better neighbor and be more understanding of their cultures and their practices,” Wendy Mamer said.

Assistant Dean of Students for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Willette Capers, created the 10-course program, which is open to faculty, staff, administration, and students.

“Diversity is in everything we do. Nine times out of ten we likely pay attention to those salient identities, you know race and ethnicity or gender, but what about those hidden identities that make us who we are? What about faith? What about socio-economic status? What about urban vs. rural? Education?” Willette Capers said.

Capers recently found out her program won a national award.

“I get this email saying, ‘Hey, you won this award.’ I’m like, ‘Wait, what? Maybe they meant to send this to somebody else,'” Capers said.

The National Association for Campus Activities awarded the program with the Outstanding Diversity Achievement Award.

“It felt amazing to feel seen and to feel like what you do matters and that your colleagues support you,” Capers said.

And Mamer is one of them.

“We are living in an incredibly diverse world and so it’s super crucial for us to be able to understand our neighbors and understand those that are different than us, understand how to talk about those differences and embrace those differences too,” Mamer said.

This fall, Capers won a regional award for her Diversity Advocate Certification Program.

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