Benjamin Edney – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- More than 100 people celebrated the accomplishments and achievements of award recipients at the Social Equity Dinner Nov. 11.
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The awards and winners included these: the Outstanding Community Award to Daniel Parker;the Outstanding Employee Award to Mark Conrad;the Outstanding Supporter Award to Cindy Nellis; the Outstanding Student Award to Torron Mollett;, the Special Group Award to Students for Life, and the Presidential Award to V-Day.
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Parker is the director of the Clarion Free Library, as well as a member of the Clarion Blueprint Community, which has tasked itself to train leaders concerning revitalization of the community. Since his arrival at Clarion, he has worked to bring the community together and promote civil dialogue with the respectful exchange of ideas and diverse perspectives.
“It was my goal to make the library a partner in community revitalization efforts and to be [a] safe, warm, welcoming place for every member of our community; this work shows that our work has had results,” Parker said.
Conrad is the coordinator of career services on campus. Since accepting the position in 2007, he has created a wide array of professional opportunities for students, and won a grant that allowed recent GED graduates take a summer course free of cost. His self-proclaimed proudest achievement is advising the Venango College Veterans Club.
Conrad said, “I believe Venango College is unique due to its size and the family atmosphere it extends to current students and prospective students. Without a doubt, this campus is [the] best place I have ever worked due to the unique blend of administration, staff, faculty and students that make up a diverse community.”
Nellis is the interim director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). She is well-known for igniting ideas, providing guidance, offering encouragement and being an overall role model, earning her award for outstanding supporter. She is a representative for the SBDC at many local business venues.
“I’m part of a team that works very hard to help aspiring entrepreneurs start businesses and helps existing businesses to grow and reach their goals,” said Nellis. She considers the passion to support students of the SBDC her greatest asset.
Mollett currently serves as the political action chair for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at Clarion, as well as being active in various other groups. Mollett is known for demonstrating meaningful acts in the advocacy for diversity, fairness, passion and equality for students of Clarion University.
He believes that if you asked his peers why he works so hard, they would say, “I lead because leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”
Students for Life is an organization that is dedicated to the equality, inclusion and social justice among students who are either pregnant or parenting. They are behind the efforts for rebooting the university-
wide Pregnancy Resources Forum and installation of the new lactation room installed in the Gemmell Student Complex.
Elizabeth McNitt, the Students for Life president, said it was a great honor to receive the Special Group award. She and her daughter joined the organization that met them with open arms in 2014. McNitt said, “Now that I am president, I am honored to do the same for other parents.”
She acknowledgd Interim Director of Social Equity, Amy Salsgiver, who has worked with them to allow students to nurse or pump wherever they need to on Clarion’s main campus and the Venango campus. Students for Life plans to continue to advocate for student parents and raise awareness of the specific needs they encounter.
V-Day was given the Presidential Award for its core ideals of social equity. The philanthropic organization increases awareness of gender issues for men and women, rape culture and collaborates with the Women and Gender Studies office.
President of V-Day Natalia Naranjo said all members “were incredibly shocked when we received the award. This award is also typically given to a student or faculty member, so when it was given to us, we were incredibly shocked to say the least.”
She believes the organization does what is necessary for the campus and community in the fight for human rights and access to equality.
“It’s so inspiring to look at them and see what they are doing around campus that helps us all come together and do great things as a group.”
She encourages everyone to attend any events related to discussing the inequalities in society and how to fix them.