Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) Awards

The Office for Equity and Diversity’s Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) Awards program honors and acknowledges diverse students who are doing outstanding work at the University of Minnesota, both in and out of the classroom.

The 2015 SEED Award Application for undergraduate (and graduate) students is now closed.


We are honored to present the 2014 SEED Award Recipients:


MARY GAO is a junior honors student at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is double majoring in economics and psychology and double minoring in statistics and management. In addition to her work with disadvantaged youth in education, she is also one of the founding members of the Psychology Student Diversity Council, promoting and providing support for underrepresented students to seek research opportunities and graduate education. Mary does research through the College of Liberal Arts and the Carlson School of Management and plans to attend graduate school for a Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology.




LAWRENCE KARONGO is a senior at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, majoring in applied economics and minoring in political science. For the past three years, Lawrence has developed a passion for trying to understand social disparities in urban communities, such as income and racial inequality, and the effects of policy implementation. Lawrence hopes to continue his education onto graduate school with a pursuit of a master’s degree in public policy.





JAYCE KOESTER is a junior on the Morris campus pursuing a degree in English and political science. They are dedicated to the importance of community organizing, education, and activism. Jayce focuses mainly on queer issues as well as lobbying for underrepresented students and organizations in campus governance and throughout campus and academic life. They want to pursue a career in community organizing and nonprofit management and work with the queer and trans* community, especially on intersectional issues like racial and economic justice.




MARIA LEE is passionate about ensuring access to outdoor spaces for all people. Currently, Maria works to connect students in Minneapolis and St. Paul schools with local outdoor spaces through the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure program. On the Twin Cities campus, Maria works with the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence and helps others connect their passions to community organizations as a peer advisor in the Community Service–Learning Center.





MICHAEL PRIDEAUX is a philosophy, and gender, women, and sexuality studies major on the University of Minnesota – Morris campus. His areas of interest focus on how analytic methods like logic, clarity, and consistency can be used to better understand gender and fight for social justice. He is applying to graduate school and intends to receive a Ph.D. in philosophy.




KIMIYA RABU is a junior on the Twin Cities campus majoring in elementary education with a certificate in ESL (teaching English as a second language). Kimiya is originally from Oromia, Ethiopia. She enjoys working with children, which has led to her experiences as a weekend schoolteacher and teacher’s assistant at both Islamic Early Childhood Family Education and Hayes Elementary School. She also tutors at Safe Place Homework Help during the academic year. This year she will be working on campus as one of the coordinators of Al-Madinah Cultural Center’s mentoring program for first-year students, as well as in the community as an assistant manager for Hikmah Youth Center. 




GABRIEL RAMIREZ-HERNANDEZ is a senior majoring in psychology and French studies in the College of Liberal Arts on the Twin Cities campus. His activities outside of the classroom focus on service to underrepresented students in education. He has served as a mentor for the Multicultural Family Literacy Program for the past two years and as president of the Latino International Student Association for the past year. Through these positions, he has found opportunities to promote cultural awareness and share information about higher education options among underrepresented students in South Minneapolis.




LIANDRA SY spent the first 12 years of her life in the Philippines. After moving to the United States, her dual identity as a first generation immigrant and naturalized American citizen impacted her views on social inequity, especially in education. As an English undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, she hopes to pursue literary studies with an emphasis on postcolonial literature to understand the role of language and literature in relation to oppressive status quo ideologies.




IAN TAYLOR, JR. was born in New Orleans and raised in Woodbury, Minnesota. He is a senior in the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Honors Program double majoring in English and African-American Studies. Last year, he co-founded the University’s Black Men’s Forum creating a space for fellowship and mentorship among black men on the University’s campus. The organization also led college panels for Minneapolis Public Schools and hosted a school from Chicago to discuss college-readiness. Currently, he is studying abroad in Kenya researching the role of community schools in the slums of Nairobi. He plans to attend law school after graduation.





MATTHEW THOMPSON is a Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate from Sisseton, South Dakota majoring in political science at the University of Minnesota – Morris. Earlier this year, he was chosen to participate in the prestigious Native American Political Leadership Program at George Washington University and interned for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC. As a senior, he has ambitions of attending law school next year and working in public service on behalf of Native American interests.