Extra chairs were needed to accommodate the standing-room-only crowd of more than 300 award recipients and attendees at an awards ceremony sponsored by the African American Learning Resource Center in Cowles Auditorium.
The 18th Annual Honors Program recognized the academic achievements of African-American students who receive undergraduate degrees, are graduate/professional students or are undergraduate academic achievers. All students maintained 3.0 grade point averages while taking 12 credits or more for the past three quarters at the University.
The honors program was started in 1978 by a group of African-American students to celebrate academic achievements and student contributions to African-American life on campus.
Tony Diggs, senior counselor at the African American Learning Resource Center, said the event provides a much-needed sense of acknowledgement to African-American students on campus.
“When you have a celebration like this, it provides a sense of motivation for some students,” Diggs said.
The number of students honored increased to 232 this year. Last year 209 were honored. Diggs said the increasing number of students honored through the years reflects an increase in the number of African-American students at the University. Diggs said he is especially pleased with the increasing number of African-American graduate students.
Claude Hall, a graduating senior in chemistry, said he was glad to receive the award. “Through the years, seeing friends of mine receive their awards … it’s given me something to strive for,” he said.
Ellis Osiname, a senior majoring in international relations, said the award means a lot to him and helps recognize the accomplishments of African-American students.
Both students said the academic environment for African-American students could be improved on campus. “You definitely get the sense something is lacking,” Osiname said, adding that he never had an African- American instructor in any of his courses.
The African American Learning Resource Center offers academic support, counseling and financial aid for African-American students.