Erica Gray & Celeste Atchison Recognized for their commitment to Diversity

November 1, 2017

The Speed School is proud to announce that two members of the engineering community were recently recognized for their achievements in helping to engender and foster a safe and diverse environment. Erica Gray, a co-op coordinator in the Co-op office and advisor for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) at the Speed School, received the Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award, while Chemical Engineering student and a charter member of Speed Spectrum, Celeste Atchison, received the Diversity & Inclusion Visionary Award.

Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award
Headshot of Erica Gray

Gray joined Speed School in 2015, and the University in 2012. Since then, Gray has balanced her responsibilities as a staff member in the co-op office as an advisor for Chemical and Electrical Engineering majors, with her continuing work with the students in NSBE. Currently, Gray is working towards a doctorate in Educational Leadership at Spalding University. Her research/dissertation topic is the “Self-Efficacy and Support of First-Generation College Students.”

Noting both her commitment and professionalism, Gray’s advocates offer high praise for her efforts, which have touched many.

One nominator notes that Gray, “ has a clear commitment to diversity and inclusion both personally and professionally. She works tirelessly to ensure that each student feels supported individually and as a cohesive group. Not all student organization advisors thoroughly advocate for their advisees or advertise their organization events, but Erica is quick to spread the word about NSBE's events (and other diversity events) through emails and flyers.”

“Her patience and willingness to listen to students tell their stories and concerns is truly admirable. Furthermore, she is a strong advocate for each of her students and is never one to back down from an unjust or unfair situation; she will stand up for what is right, embodying a true representation of an ally,” admits another.

Diversity & Inclusion Visionary Award

Senior Chemical Engineering major Celeste Atchison is a founding member and former president of the Speed Spectrum organization for LGBTQ+ engineering students. Her efforts have proven pivotal in building and sustaining the center, enduring at times facing adversity from others on her campus. Currently the treasurer for the organization, she has taken an active role in LGBTQ+ and diversity training offered at UofL, as well as work on Safe Zone training for faculty and staff.
Atchison’s leadership expands to her role as treasurer of the Society of Women Engineers. She has also been on the Diversity Week Student Committee (2016), as well as served on the Women’s Leadership Conference Committee (2015, 2016). It’s through her accomplishments that she has become so widely recognized as a guiding voice in the Speed Community as a tireless advocate for women and the LGBTQ+ community at large.

One proponent considers Atchison, “ the definition of an ally. Her commitment to diversity and inclusion shines through in everything she does academically, professionally, and personally.”

Another says, “I have worked with Celeste in various capacities and am always impressed with her passion for learning about other identities and experiences, her willingness to step in and support students of all races, ethnicities, abilities, gender identities/expressions, sexual orientations, religions, etc., and her ability to never shy away from identifying ways in which Speed can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.“