The Top Owl Social Justice Award is given to recognize contributions in helping the university achieve its mission of creating and sustaining an inclusive community that appreciates, celebrates, and advances student and campus diversity at Southern Connecticut State University.
The DEI Advisory Council presents the Top Owl Social Justice Awards monthly in the academic year. The Top Owls are publicly recognized on campus and receive a certificate, a gift card, and an honorary Social Justice lapel pin. The awards recognize the contributions, leadership, and service of deserving part-time and full-time faculty, staff, and students for upholding Southern’s core values of dignity, respect, kindness, compassion, and civility. Awardees are individuals who contribute to promoting the principles of human rights, social justice, and anti-racism at Southern Connecticut State University.
For the month of April 2023, the Top Owl Award honorees are undergraduate student Zoe Pringle, ’23; Regina Kulacz, simulation coordinator in the School of Nursing; and Melanie Uribe, assistant professor of art and design.
Zoe Pringle, ’23, a psychology major, brings her commitment to social justice to her leadership roles and her everyday life. She has especially had an opportunity to impact others through her roles as a resident assistant and a peer mentor where she creates community and helps students to know they are seen and have a place of connection.
Last fall, Pringle participated in the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond “Undoing Racism” workshop, and she spoke about her experiences on Southern’s “Real Talk” podcast. That podcast led to her becoming a part of the “Real Talk” team, and this semester she has served as a host for several episodes.
Pringle’s impact extends off campus as well, with her involvement in the arts and in a supportive community of local, Black-owned businesses. She owns her own business selling handmade jewelry and other accessories. Her first sale was at a Juneteenth protest that invited Black-owned businesses to attend. Since then, she has been part of several community events and art sales that uplift Black artists, musicians, and businesses. As her nominator wrote, “Zoë is a warm and caring individual who I believe is deserving of this award.”
As a simulation coordinator in the School of Nursing, Regina Kulacz works collaboratively with several departments to achieve an interprofessional relationship within the College of Health and Human Services. Her nominator wrote that Kulacz has designed simulations that increase cultural awareness and sensitivity on the part of the students. In addition, her nominator wrote, Kulacz “serves as an exemplary leader for nursing students to promote diversity in patient care.”
Melanie Uribe was nominated by a student, who recognized her for her intellectual rigor, her creativity and innovation, and her community engagement. Her nominator praised her for the support she provides to her students, writing that she “literally cannot stop serving her community, at the cost of her own sleep schedule, free time, and peace of mind. She takes care of each and every student who comes into her classroom.”
Uribe sits on committees dedicated to advocating for equity and the arts; she finds local connections to provide her students with off-campus resources; and she supports every endeavor by her students to help build a sense of campus community. Her nominator also wrote that Uribe is “dedicated to the safety and success of everyone she meets. She is constantly aware of details, in everything from pronouns (even despite the lack of neutral pronouns in her native language) to diversity in art careers. She treats each student in her courses as an artist deserving of her time, and in doing so builds spaces where she is respected as a valued mentor, teacher, and friend.”