Tianna Richards’ commitment to supporting diversity efforts at Moraine Valley makes her a natural choice to be named this year’s recipient of the Embracing Diversity Award.

Richards works with minority students on persistence, retention and completion through developing programming and hosting diversity-related events. She builds lasting connections with students by providing academic and personal coaching, offering transfer assistance, and serving as the club advisor for the Black Student Association and the Alliance of Latin American Students. She also teaches COL-101 and COM-103.

“What I love the most about my job is the interactions I have with students,” she said. “It makes me emotional to know I’m making an impact on their lives through education. It’s rewarding trying to get them to the next stage of
their lives.”

Debby Blatzer, assistant dean of Advising and Counseling, said she has seen the incredible effort Richards puts into each student. “She will go above and beyond to give them academic coaching, career guidance and a reality check when needed,” she added.

Richards administers the DREAM Mentoring Program, which connects faculty and staff members with mentees to offer guidance and advice related to students’ academic, personal and professional goals. She believes this program helps minority students gain soft skills that will be expected in the workforce.

“Having a mentor helps students navigate challenging situations, problem-solve and think outside the box,” she said. “Mentors serve an important role by reinforcing the work I do.”

As a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) graduate, Richards raises awareness about HBCUs and Hispanic-Serving Institutions among students who plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree. She helped facilitate a virtual presentation about a St. Louis HBCU with the Transfer Center during Black History Month. She also shares her personal experience with interested students.

The team that nominated Richards noted, “She lives out diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice through her collaborative work with students, faculty and staff every day. She is a force for supporting students of color and
low-income students and brings so much positive energy to her work.”

Richards serves on the African American and Latino Student Community Outreach committees and offers insight and suggestions as a member of the college’s Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative (ILEA) Core Team, which focuses on increasing graduation rates for low-income, first-generation students and students of color.

“Tianna is a true advocate for DEI work at Moraine Valley. She has done outstanding work on the ILEA Core Team. She always helps the team stay focused on supporting our minoritized and diverse students,” said one of her nominators.

“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside our amazing leaders on the ILEA Core Team to consider how to make our processes and the experiences of our students of color more equitable,” Richards said.

She also effectively supervises student employees in the Multicultural Student Affairs office and was named Moraine Valley’s 2019-20 Student Employment Supervisor of the Year and the 2019-20 State of Illinois Supervisor of the Year, Midwest Association of Student Employment.

When she saw the email listing her as a recipient of this award, Richards said she read it a few times before believing it. Then she shared the good news with her mom and daughter, Peyton.

She is grateful to those who nominated her and is proud to be recognized for her DEI work.

“To work on something as important as diversity, equity and inclusion, gives me an overwhelming feeling of joy,”
Richards said.