2009 Regina Stanback Stroud Award

2009 Winner

Jaye Van Kirk, San Diego Mesa College

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - April 18, 2009 - The Academic Senate proudly conferred the 2009 Stanback Stroud Diversity Award on Jaye Van Kirk, a professor of Psychology at San Diego Mesa College who uses her professional life to improve the quality of education that historically underserved students receive on her campus, and especially in her field. Past President Regina Stanback Stroud (1993-95) presented Van Kirk with the Diversity Award at the Academic Senate for California Community College's annual Spring Plenary Session.

Her leadership has engaged hundreds of students to pursue all levels of the academy, said Stanback Stroud when presenting Van Kirk with the award.

Van Kirk has been an integral part of two highly successful student-oriented initiatives on her campus: Bridges to Baccalaureate, a program that focuses on getting individuals from underserved groups into four year institutions, and Psi Beta, the Honors society for Psychology. Bridges and Van Kirk have produced a remarkable caliber of students which has lead several universities to become very interested in collaborating with San Diego Mesa College. The Bridges program at San Diego Mesa been so successful that it was recognized by the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

Community college students learn to understand that no matter what their circumstance, they have an opportunity to improve themselves through education. Their circumstances should not define who they are or what they will be able to contribute to society, said Van Kirk.

Van Kirk has made diversity and excellence cornerstones in her career and has published several articles on these subjects. She was one of only 35 speakers invited from the United States to the Oxford Round Table at Oxford University to discuss the challenges that ethnic women face in seeking higher education. This is a topic Van Kirk is especially well-suited to discussing, due both to her extensive work with ethnic students and the challenges they face, as well as her own first-hand experience in the matter.

She inspired me to present my research at a scientific conference which is unheard of for an undergraduate student from a community college. This was a monumental feat because she, a woman of color, mentored me, another woman of color, in a world that still lacked diversity, said C. Iva Galvez Macaspaic, in her letter of support for Van Kirk, her mentor and former professor.

Van Kirk hasn't simply enriched the lives of her students at San Diego Mesa; she has taken the time to reach out to local high school students and encourage students from underserved groups to pursue careers in Psychology. She truly believes in and embodies the ideal that all students - regardless of race, gender, or any other affiliation - deserve the very best.

I have yet to find any former or current student that feels less indebted to her than I, wrote Jason Daniel, adjunct faculty member at San Diego Mesa College and former student of Van Kirk's.