Our Diversity Star
Our very own Nyabony Gat was recently honored with UAA’s Diversity Action Council’sStudent Diversity Award. We are SO PROUD of this woman, who has worked at the SC AHEC since 2015, her freshman year at UAA. The following is taken from this recent article in the Green and Gold Blog:
Major: Health Sciences
Born in Sudan and raised in the U.S., Nyabony Gat had her future career all mapped out. She enrolled at UAA as a health sciences major and intended to follow the medical track with hopes of one day becoming a family physician. However, over the course of her four years at the university, she discovered a passion for community and public health. It was during her sophomore year that Nyabony learned about UAA’s Center for Community Engagement and Learning (CCEL) Community Engaged Student Assistant (CESA) program. She applied for a CESA position and was paired with Nancy Nix, associate professor of public health in UAA’s Department of Health Sciences, working on a situational analysis for Alaska medical projects. This experience was the catalyst that changed the course of her undergraduate experience.
“That project really ignited the kind of opportunities I wanted to have,” Gat said. The project also launched her community engagement on campus, from her involvement in student clubs, like the Black Student Union and the American Sign Language Club, to peer mentoring through the Multicultural Center. “In high school I was engaged in different clubs, but really I think it began when I came to the university and started to seek engagement opportunities.”
Gat said she wanted to connect to the larger UAA campus community and feel like she was a part of something bigger and making a difference. Her freshman year she just focused on school and work, but felt like something was missing, which is what motivated her to become more active on campus.
“I think it’s very easy to enter the university and fall into the trap of just going to class and forget about the other piece of civic engagement or trying to discover where you fit in,” she said. “The more I got involved the more value I saw.”
For Gat, being awarded the Student Diversity Award Scholarship is a huge honor and is a culmination of all her hard work as a civic-minded student.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned as a student, is that diversity goes beyond just race and ethnicity, it really encompasses people’s background and life experiences and whatever identities they may hold,” she said. “Those are all important to bring to the table to create environments that make people feel welcome. I think this award highlights that.”