Texas Tech University

President’s Excellence in Diversity and Equity Awards

President's Excellence in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award Winners  


Olivia Retería 

Undergraduate Student Award Winner

Olivia Rentería is a wonderful example of a student advocate who has invested her time to help other college students while maintaining her excellence academic standing.  I believe she is a strong candidate for the President's Excellence in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award.  Many of the organizations she has chosen to contribute to were established to help first generation and undocumented students in the college setting.  She progressed into leadership roles in many of the organizations and expanded her impact by also adding an organization for her major in Geosciences.  Olivia started her college leadership with the Texas Tech Chapter of Define America.  Her focus for this organization was to provide conversation space for first generation, DACA and undocumented students.  She has moved into a leadership role as Vice President and has been involved since 2019.  At the national level, she is active with the Presidents Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration where she serves on the student strategy table.  As a member, she guides the alliance of university leaders on policies and practices that help create a welcoming environment for undocumented, immigrant and international students on campus.  At Texas Tech University, Olivia has served as a DREAM Ambassador for the TTU Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.  Oliva's engagement with the DREAM Resource Center connects first generation and undocumented students to resources that will help them be successful in college.  She contributed to the recent university-wide DREAM Ally training, as well as serving on the DREAM Advisory  Council.Olivia has also helped organize a partnership with the TTU Law School to provide free legal services to students.  In the Department of Geosciences, Olivia has been involved with the Geosciences Leadership Organization, first as Secretary and now as President…. Olivia Rentería's efforts embody the President's Excellence in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award with her enthusiastic dedication to advocacy, community building, and engagement.


Nanette Kay Dolera 

Undergraduate Student Award Winner

Throughout my time at Texas Tech, I sought experiences that exposed me to different cultures so I may graduate from this university competent and compassionate without one trait being attained at the expense of another.  First, I held multiple leadership roles within the Filipino Student Association to understand and embrace my native identity.  Then, I sought to learn more about the culture of other marginalized communities on campus.  During August 2021, I collaborated with the Hispanic Student Society President to student co-chair the 2021 annual Hispanic/LatinX Heritage Month.  I also participate in community events that honor the legacy of social activists, which paved the way for marginalized communities to hold leadership positions, such as the Martin Luther King March….I uphold inclusion throughout my time as a First-Generation Peer Mentor through DDEI's First Generation Transition and Peer Mentoring Program (FGTMP).  Inclusion focuses on providing equal access and opportunities for all people regardless of race, gender, or other needs.  FGTMP seeks to support undergraduate students that identify as first-generation in college as they pursue their undergraduate degrees. Being a first-generation student keeps me aware of the blessings I hope never to take for granted such as the multiple sacrifices my family made to ensure I receive an education. I take joy In assisting other first-generation students to navigate their college experiences, build connections, and share campus resources to contribute to their success.  Texas Tech University is a place for growth and opportunities.  That from here, it is truly possible.


Jacob Gordon 

Staff Award Winner

My reason for nominating Jacob Gordon for this award is that he goes so far above and beyond his paid duties to foster a positive and motivating environment in the Rawls College of Business for students, staff, and faculty.  Specifically, Jacob serves as the founder and leader of our Rawls Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Book & Film Club, a role that requires a tremendous commitment of his time and energy.  As leader of this club, he selects the books we read and the films we watch, orders and delivers the books to club members (even delivering to our houses during the pandemic), reads each book and watches each film at least three times himself to fully absorb the details, sends emails in advance of each meeting with lists of topics and questions for club members to consider as we read and watch, guides us through each session to ensure that we gain a deeper understanding of the material and enhance our knowledge of the topic , and sends follow-up emails with extensive lists of resources (other books, films, podcasts, news articles, etc.) for club members wishing to delve deeper into each session's material.  Jacob has led the club through discussions of six books (How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Whistleblower by Susan Fowler, Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, and A Letter to my White Friends and Colleagues by Steven S. Rogers) and three film series (Asian Americans on PBS, Pride on FX, and Native America on PBS)…. Jacob's leadership of the Rawls DEI Book & Film Club makes the College a more welcoming and affirming environment for students, staff, and faculty from various minoritized groups…. Additionally, Jacob has immersed himself in Rawls DEI initiatives.  He serves on the Rawls DEI Committee, and his input, guidance, and leadership have been invaluable to the success of Rawls' Diversity initiatives.  He also serves as a member of the Rawls Sexual Harassment Task Force, where he did a fantastic job of composing a large portion of the Task Force's final report, and as the DEI representative to the Rawls Staff Council…. While I am sure that many qualified staff members will be nominated for this award, I cannot imagine that any is more deserving.  


Dr. Britta Anderson 

Non-Tenure Track Faculty Award Winner

Dr. Anderson joined Texas Tech University in the fall of 2019 and, since that time, has worked to improve equity and diversity in all aspects of her job, from teaching to research to service.  In service, Dr. Anderson goes above and beyond to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion.  She was the key initiator for the following initiatives: (1) drafting a DEI statement for her department, CMLL; (2) establishing the Latina/o Institute; (3) addressing mental health as a DEI issue, and (4) advocating for junior faculty with a work-in-progress monthly workshop.  In teaching, Dr. Anderson advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the following ways: (1) designing courses that create a space in which Latinx and Latin American students see cultural production that reflects as well as takes their own identities seriously; (2) actively works to expand representation of Latinx, queer, Black, and indigenous voices in her courses; (3) re-shaping learning outcomes to reflect values of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and, (4) serving on multiple first-generation student graduate committees.  In research, Dr. Anderson emphasizes diversity, equity and inclusion in the following ways: (1) focusing on Latinx, queer, and Chicano/a voices in research articles; and,  (2) offering presentations and organizing conferences around marginalized voices in literary and cultural production.  Overall, Dr. Anderson's work for equity and diversity far exceeds the normal “call of duty” and enriches the curriculum, research, and faculty experience at Texas Tech University in multiple ways.



Dr. Kanika Batra 

Tenure Track Faculty Award Winner

Dr. Batra is a scholar of global literature, on a global scale, working on writings from three continents.  But this geographical range is accompanied by a corresponding breadth of intellectual vision, through which she has explored political, hybrid, and mass cultural texts along with traditional literacy genres; and she has crafted a theoretical nexus in which postcolonial, feminist, and LGBTQ+ approaches are braided into an incisive understanding of movements for social inclusion and human rights.  This is important research, achieving international recognition and furthering TTU's own goals for global communication and diversity…. Dr. Batra ties her worldwide research projects (incorporating Africa, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia) to our home university, to Texas Tech.  She has received internal funding specifically to promote diversity in her role as teacher and citizen at TTU….  Dr. Batra played the central role in founding and directing the Comparative Literature, Globalization, and Translation (CLGT) subject area in the English Department.  She was instrumental in developing the department's new curriculum, and including courses in CLGT as well as Gender and Sexuality into the major.  And, more fundamentally, she has put this curriculum into practice by teaching Studies in Global Literature, Modern and Contemporary World Literature, Sexuality and Literature; and, on the graduate level, Studies in Postcolonial Literature…. During her time at TTU, Dr. Batra has had semesters as a visiting research professor at the University of New Delhi and the Central University of Kerala, in India, and twice as visiting professor at Southeast University in Nanjing, China.  She has written, of her teaching, “My Asian background means that most students see me as embodying race and difference.  I use this embodiment to encourage my students to go beyond the course material to develop their thinking on crucial connections between race and location.”…. Consistently, Dr. Batra has devoted energy to international students at Texas Tech, and helping them to be successful in our academic community.  Altogether, Dr. Batra's research, teaching, and service have truly embodied the Texas Tech ideal of integrated scholarship; but, specifically, she has directed this threefold effort towards the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 


President's Excellence in Gender Equity Award 


Danielle Saavedra 

Staff Award Winner



Dr. Wendy-Adele Humphrey

Faculty Award Winner




2021 Recipients

President's Excellence in Diversity and Equity

Jessica Spott, PhD 

Jody C. Randall

Julia Heard Witt, M. Ed.

Karin Ardon-Dryer, Ph.D.

Logan Boyd

LyaNisha Gonzalez

Mary Murimi

Matt Hernandez

Dr. Sofia Chapman

Dr. Tigga Kingston

2019 - 2020 Recipients

President's Excellence in Diversity and Equity
Matthew Hernandez – Undergraduate Student
Natira Mullet – Graduate Student
LyaNisha Gonzalez – Graduate Student
Julia Heard Witt – Staff
Dr. Kendall Gerdes – Non-Tenured Faculty
Dr. Mary Murimi – Tenured Faculty

President's Excellence in Gender Equity
Jody Randall – Staff
Dr. Kendall Gerdes – Faculty

2020 – 2021 Recipients 

President's Excellence in Diversity & Equity
Logan Boyd – Undergraduate Student
Olivia Sievers – Graduate Student
Dr. Sofia Chapman – Staff
Dr. Tigga Kingston – Tenured Faculty

President's Excellence in Gender Equity
Dr. Jessica Spott – Staff
Dr. Karin Ardon-Dryer - Faculty