Dr. Fay Akindes, the Associate Communication Professor, and Center for Ethnic Studies Director, has received the 2010 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award. According to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside website, this is an award that is presented by the UW System as a means of recognizing students, administration, and professors who contribute strongly to diversity and the “. . . status of women within the system.” Akindes will be receiving the award during the ceremony on April 17th.
Each University of Wisconsin Institution chooses who they would like to nominate for the award, and proceeds to submit all of the criteria that makes the candidate eligible. This usually includes the candidate’s contribution to diversity, their scholarly women’s studies, the activism they promote, or their dedication to improving the professional atmosphere and status of women, specifically women with ethnic backgrounds.
The UW System Outstanding Women of Color in Education Awards initially began in 1994. This award was initially created to promote a quality education that is simultaneously diverse. The following types of women meet the criteria for the award: Women who have worked incessantly in scholarly women’s studies, women of ethnic backgrounds that have stood up for others who share a similar ethnicity or background, ethnic women who have been able to create a cohesive force between ethnic groups in order to support a common cause, women who have assisted in positive changes at the university such as increased grants and curriculum development for ethnic students, and women who have understood the importance of family and community in the lives of ethnic women. Every one of these requirements was stated at http://wsc.uwsa.edu/events/woc/woc.htm, and each one exclusively applies to “women of color” who are outstanding.
Fay Akindes is honored to receive the award, but has this to say. “This award means that there’s a place for women of color at UW-Parkside and in the UW System. Although I’m honored to receive this award, I look forward to the day when this award is obsolete because there won’t be a need to make our presence known. The paradox of being a woman of color is that I’m either hyper-visible or hyper-invisible. Most of the time, I just want to be.” This epitomizes a humble response from a truly humble woman.
The Hawaiian island, Molokai, represents her place of birth. Molokai is an island that measures 38 miles long by 15 miles wide, and she attended public schools there. Akindes joined Parkside in the fall of 1997. In 1999, she was awarded the Outstanding Dissertation by the National Communication Association’s International and Intercultural Communication Division for her dissertation entitled, Hawaiian-Music Radio as Diasporic Habitus: A Rhizomatic Study of Power, Resistance, and Identity. Before she even went to graduate school, Akindes was steadily working in radio and television. She was the marketing and promotions director at KPBS-FM, which is San Diego’s public radio station. She was also employed as the promotions and public relations specialist at KGMB-TV (CBS) and KHET (PBS) in Honolulu.
In 2004, she was presented the UW-Parkside Stella Gray Teaching Excellence Award, and the Plan 2008 Diversity Award. During the 2005-2006 school year, she was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Abomey-Calavi which is situated in Benin, West Africa. Her highlight during this period was the African Literature Association Conference in Accra, Ghana, which she attended with six graduate students. Another highlight of this journey was encountering Kenyan scholar Ngugi wa Thiongo, who wrote Decolonising the Mind, in addition to several novels.
Akindes was the keynote speaker at the 2004 Parkside commencement ceremony. With such accomplishments and accolades on her slate, and her outstanding track record that relays decades of relentless work, it’s no wonder that Akindes has been chosen for this award.
Story by Jake Halverson