Clinton honored with Outstanding Woman of Color Award
Lakisha Clinton, political science major and 2014 University of Wisconsin-Platteville graduate, has received the UW System’s Outstanding Woman of Color Award for 2014.
This award, determined by open nominations, recognizes female faculty, staff and students of color at UW-Platteville, as well as women of color in the Platteville community. Those who receive this award are women who exemplify a strong will in overcoming adversity by achieving excellence in social justice and activism with specific attention paid to disadvantaged populations. In addition, those who receive this award have taken part in community service projects, conducted credible scholarly research and have created awareness on ethnic and gender diversity in American society. All of such efforts are assessed on the direct impact they make on the minority female population and how they aid in creating inclusive communities both on and off campus.
“I’m happy and feel so honored to have even been nominated for this award,” said Clinton. “I never did any of this to win something. However, this goes to show that hard work does pay off, and I am truly thankful to be recognized.”
Clinton has been actively involved on campus since her arrival as a freshman and credits that to her interest in higher education since the age of 10.
“In order to graduate from elementary school, I had to complete a pre-college course where I was required to discuss what I wanted to do in life, said Clinton. “Back then I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer.”
Clinton began her college career as a biology major. During that time she conducted research on stem cells and practiced her public speaking skills. After establishing connections with other students and potential employers who shared a similar interest in politics, Clinton changed her major to political science and also pursued a certificate in ethnic studies.
Clinton has held positions on Student Senate including senator and senior senator for the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture, as well as a senator for the College of Liberal Arts and Education. Moreover, she was named inclusive affairs director of students and worked to increase awareness of diversity on campus.
Despite all of her accomplishments, Clinton says that mentoring students is what she is most proud of.
“Being a mentor to students, especially ones with similar backgrounds as mine, has been the most rewarding,” she said. “Being there for them just as I wished someone was there for me is what I enjoy the most. I like to think that I help guide them in the right direction.”
Clinton has mentored all types of students, but takes great pride in mentoring young women of color in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science. Subsequently, she discovered her core beliefs and values regarding culture, diversity and women’s role in society.
“Through all of this I value trust and honesty and being able to be honest even when it’s difficult,” said Clinton. “It’s a common belief that women in society have a hard time with this especially when it comes to negotiation. I realized this from being on student senate.”
In order to combat this, Clinton has spent a fair share of her time speaking out for students on the Women’s Council in hopes of creating better female leaders in the future.
Even after graduating, Clinton is hopeful that the university will continue to make improvements when it comes to racial and gender diversity.
“A few years back UW-Platteville was at 4 percent students of color and now it’s at 7 percent,” said Clinton. “It’s really important that we strive to make things more inclusive. We can do this by reaching out to prospective students during tours.”
Clinton is currently studying for the Law School Admissions Test and enjoying a subtle break from school since graduating. She plans on attending graduate school in hopes of obtaining a degree in law. However, for now, she remains appreciative of the leadership opportunities that UW-Platteville has provided her.
“It’s all about paying it forward,” said Clinton. “When I first came here it was all one color. After long hours and countless meetings, it’s nice to be able see a change in our numbers.”
Written by: Shelby Le Duc, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, firstname.lastname@example.org