Community Engagement Fellows Receive UC San Diego’s Inclusive Excellence Award

Fellows recognized for their essential roles in supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The 2020-2021 cohort of Community Engagement Fellows at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography are recognized for the vital service it brought to the Scripps community during a period of societal upheaval across the country.

The group was awarded UC San Diego’s Inclusive Excellence Award for its outstanding contributions to the advancement of equity, diversity, and inclusion within the community throughout the 2021 calendar year. 

The Inclusive Excellence Award is given to faculty, staff, students, departments, and organizational units to celebrate UC San Diego's commitment to inclusive excellence and its Principles of Community. These principles aim to maintain a climate of fairness, cooperation, and professionalism, and are key to the university in valuing and respecting the diversity of each member of the UC San Diego community. 

The eight Community Engagement Fellows receiving the award include graduate students Julia Chavarry, Erica Ferrer, Danielle McHaskell, Ivan Moreno, and Anaí Novoa, and undergraduate students Lily Jorrick, Carmen Lopez, and Nilusha Wanniappa. These fellows joined the Scripps Oceanography Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team in 2020-2021.

“Given all that transpired at the national level around anti-racism and social justice in 2020, the Community Engagement Fellows demonstrated an incredible commitment to supporting the needs and interests of students, staff and faculty during this time,” said Margaret Leinen, vice chancellor for marine sciences and director of Scripps Oceanography. “They shared resources and created opportunities for the Scripps community to feel connected, feel heard, and feel valued, and made meaningful strides to create a more supportive climate at Scripps.”

Community Engagement Fellows are paid positions held by UC San Diego students who are dedicated to building relationships through mentoring and being representatives of community, awareness, and equality to their peers. They work closely with Scripps Oceanography Director of Diversity Initiatives Keiara Auzenne to create diversity workshops, trainings, and plan events. 

“This award represents the hard work and commitment the Community Engagement Fellows team put forth during the 2020-2021 academic year,” said Scripps graduate student and 2020-2021 Fellow Ivan Moreno. “I hope this award serves as a beacon of hope for positive change for all the future students, faculty and staff looking to contribute to making our campus a better place and looking at Scripps as an institution they’d like to be a part of.” 

Throughout the year the Fellows promoted cultural inclusivity through various sessions and resources to the Scripps community, such as leading 19 weekly Anti-Racism Reboot sessions and several implicit bias training sessions, and writing content for the Scripps Community Awareness, Resources, Engagement & Support (CARES) internal newsletter which disseminated information on resources and to the community. The training sessions brought students, staff, and faculty across various Scripps divisions and units together to inform one another on anti-racist practices and discussions. The students also helped Scripps in hosting regular Community Conversations and Developing Engagement through Existing Pipeline (DEEP) Connections lectures to highlight the scientific endeavors of underrepresented and marginalized scholars.

“In academia, EDI work is often under-appreciated,” said graduate student and 2020-2021 Fellow Julia Chavarry. “The Inclusive Excellence Award signifies the value of enacting strategies that improve academic spaces for students, faculty, and staff with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Further, it highlights the importance of providing students from traditionally underrepresented groups with spaces that encourage the co-existence of both their passion for science and their investment in their communities.”

The Fellows also organized an outreach program targeted at recruiting underrepresented students to apply to Scripps called ‘Chat with a Scripps Scientist.’ This series of four workshops, which had more than 120 prospective students participate, aimed to demystify the application and admissions process, and connect prospective students with potential faculty and labs for introductory conversations.  

The contributions and dedication to these programs directly impacted the structural improvements in admissions. In Fall 2021, Scripps welcomed its most diverse incoming graduate student cohort. 

Previous recipients of UC San Diego’s Inclusive Excellence Award from Scripps include the Women and Minorities in Science Group (WMIS) at Scripps, which received the award in 2020, Auzenne, oceanographer Jennifer MacKinnon, and former graduate student Alyssa Griffin.

For more information on equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives at Scripps, visit


About Scripps Oceanography

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year.

About UC San Diego

At the University of California San Diego, we embrace a culture of exploration and experimentation. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who aren’t afraid to look deeper, challenge expectations and redefine conventional wisdom. As one of the top 15 research universities in the world, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, propel economic growth and make our world a better place. Learn more at

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