Shanya Gray, recipient of the Embracing Diversity Award, personifies diversity to the fullest. Her actions reflect the award’s description completely: an individual who actively and consistently demonstrates the core value of Diversity, the seventh of the Eighth expectations, in their conduct, interactions with others and daily responsibilities.

“I believe this is the best award on campus,” Gray said. “I am ecstatic to receive it because it means my colleagues think I am having a meaningful impact on the lives of our students, our college community and society at large. Diversity is important to me because I am the embodiment of diversity. Being biracial with a black mother and a white father, I have never not had to think about diversity. Subsequently, I felt it was part of my calling to champion diversity and to stand up against injustices that thwarted such efforts.”

Gray has gone above and beyond by participating in and presenting many diversity-related sessions throughout campus. Among them are lectures on mental illness, cultural competence, her personal experiences as a biracial individual and more.

“Not only are these sessions executed at a high level,” said her nominator, “but she has allowed herself to be open and vulnerable by sharing her lived experiences. In doing so, she normalizes and helps explain how Moraine Valley embraces these diverse experiences for our students and staff.”

In addition, Gray collaborated on revisions to the “Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion” chapter in the COL-101 textbook, regularly mentors DREAM students and has been collaborating with colleagues to develop a Language Arts course related to cultural competence. “Her experiences are now helping students and staff to better understand the lens of diversity at Moraine Valley, in our local community, and throughout the larger world,” said her nominator, who noted she has been a consistent supporter of the college’s Illinois Equity in Attainment work.

“One of the things I love about Moraine Valley is the diversity,” Gray said. “Every class I teach is beautifully diverse, and I love when I can bring my students together from different cultures and different worlds who learn from each other, embrace each other and become friends. My vision for Moraine Valley is we continue to recognize what an asset diversity is, embrace it and be intentional about leading community colleges in Illinois to be the most diverse and equitable higher education institution there is.”