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UW-Eau Claire's Civil Rights Pilgrimage named outstanding diversity program

EDITOR'S NOTE: Participants in the 2010 Winterim Civil Rights Pilgrimage will leave Eau Claire Friday, Jan. 8.

RELEASED: Jan. 4, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — A national organization recently honored the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Civil Rights Pilgrimage as an outstanding diversity program.

Watch a video by Jyl Kelley, UW-Eau Claire assistant professor of art & design, about the 2009 Civil Rights Pilgrimage.

The program received the Celebration of Diversity Award from the Region IV-East division of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

"I was so honored to receive this on behalf of the wonderful students and staff who created this program," said Dr. Beth Hellwig, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. "I received congratulatory comments from colleagues from around the region and requests for more information about the program."

The Civil Rights Pilgrimage gives students the opportunity to visit sites of historic importance to the U.S. civil rights movement during their winter or spring breaks. Among the notable stops: the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta; the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Ala.; the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala.; Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.; and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn.

Student coordinators play an important role in making the pilgrimage possible. Senior Sarah Gonzalez, Sheboygan, has helped plan the pilgrimage since its conception in 2007. It's satisfying to have the trip recognized because organizers put so much effort into it, Gonzalez said.

"There aren't too many alternative breaks or short-term immersion experiences that are open to everyone at UW-Eau Claire so I am proud to be part of one, especially because I know the trip always leaves a really strong impact on those who experience it," Gonzalez said.

According to NASPA, the award is based on an institution's success in celebrating and creating a culturally diverse campus environment through student development programming, personnel practices, equal opportunity, staff development activities, student support services, and actions designed to improve the campus climate for diversity.

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SN/RD/JB

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