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Accolades & Honors

Doreen Hernández and Belkys Torres are the inaugural recipients of the Michele Reid-Vazquez Commitment to Community Award

Doreen Hernández and Belkys Torres pose with their Michele Reid-Vazquez Commitment to Community Awards

Last week, Doreen Hernández and Belkys Torres were announced as the inaugural recipients of the Michele Reid-Vazquez Commitment to Community Award from the Center for Ethnic Studies Research (CESR).

The award is the namesake of Reid-Vazquez, a former associate professor in the Department of Africana Studies who was also the faculty advisor for the Latinx Student Association and the founding director of the CESR. A place where “access and opportunity connect,” the center provides students and faculty with community-building spaces and opportunities through collaborative research, professional development and investigative projects. Each explores race and ethnicity within communities central to ethnic studies, including the diasporas of Latinx, Asian American, Indigenous and African American/U.S. African diasporas peoples.

In an announcement about the awards, professional soprano opera singer and CESR co-director Zuly Inirio (SOC WK ’23G) described Reid-Vazquez as: “a beacon of light for those navigating the complexities of identity, culture and community.” She added that her “work and unwavering dedication have not only paved the way for countless scholars and activists but have also significantly contributed to a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the diverse tapestries that constitute our societies.”

Recipients of the award must exemplify an unwavering commitment to community, truth and building an equitable future for all. Hernández and Torres have displayed these virtues in their respective roles at Pitt and in their efforts to develop Latinx programming at the University and across colleges in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Hernández is the administrator for Pitt’s Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership and Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Torres, a teaching assistant professor of Latinx and gender studies in the English Department, is also the associate vice provost for inclusive excellence in education. In the latter position, she focuses on increasing educational equity for students most often impacted by structural barriers.


Photo courtesy of Zuly Inirio