This year the McLean Area Branch of AAUW established as a major goal to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of our work in the community. As an important step, the Student Inclusion Recognition Award was created to acknowledge high school juniors’ efforts to make their school environments welcoming to students of all backgrounds, races, and abilities.
The recipients of the Student Inclusion Recognition Awards for 2022 are Olivia Zhang of McLean High School and Talia-Rose Diorio of Langley High School. Olivia and Talia-Rose each received a certificate of award and $100 and were honored at the AAUW’s May 7th Annual Luncheon and Branch Meeting at River Bend Club at which they and their mothers were guests. Talia-Rose and Olivia gave inspirational presentations about their inclusion-focused activities.
Olivia, McLean High School’s Student Government Association President, described the Be a Good Neighbor Initiative and the Student of the Month Award, as well as the Cancer Kids First project. Students at McLean High School, through the Be a Good Neighbor Initiative, learn about people in need, experience hands-on activities to help them (like S.H.A.R.E), and eventually pave their own path to giving back to the community. The Student of the Month award spotlights students from different backgrounds to help them feel accepted and appreciated for their contributions to the school’s environment.
The Cancer Kids First program, for which Olivia is the founder and CEO, has united about 900 students in Virginia and over 19,000 in 45 countries worldwide to help build a loving support system for pediatric cancer patients who struggle with isolation in and out of hospitals. She and her non-profit have received national and international awards. Olivia plans to pursue her passions for public health and business.
Within Langley High School, Talia-Rose leads three initiatives: the African American Alliance, the Military Buddies Program, and the Equity Coalition. The African American Alliance brings African American students and allies, such as non-Black students and teachers, into fellowship to explore opportunities to ensure equitable and inclusive structures. Likewise, the Equity Coalition was designed to create a community where everyone feels safe and welcomed as they discuss issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, environmental well-being, economic inequalities, disability awareness, and more. Talia-Rose, as a daughter of an active-duty Marine, understands the challenges of multiple moves to different schools, so she developed a program run by students, who are children of active duty/retired military members, to serve as mentors and/or assist newly arriving students as they enter the Langley school environment. Talia-Rose is considering majoring in genetics and/or theater following a gap year.
The applications were reviewed by DE&I Committee members Myrtle Hendricks-Corrales, Tom McVeigh, Nina McVeigh, Mafalda Marrocco, as well as the committee co-chairs Barbara Sipe and Ruth Nowjack-Raymer.
Return to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion webpage.