By Kim Lamb Gregory

The President’s Innovation Awards recognize the significant innovation and contributions of faculty, students and staff in advancing the University’s mission and impact. 

Cameron BartosiewiczCameron Bartosiewicz: President’s Award for Student Innovation

His experiences in high school as a member of the LGBTQ+ community were “not always pleasant,” according to Biochemistry junior Cameron Bartosiewicz. When he enrolled at CSUCI, he learned other LGBTQ+ students had similar experiences in high school. 

“We started having conversations and doing research, which indicated my experience was commonplace among LGBTQ youth,” Bartosiewicz said. “The numbers indicate they are at high risk for considering suicide.”

With help from friends and allies, Bartosiewicz launched a youth organization to promote acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. His efforts were recognized at CSUCI’s Convocation held on Aug. 19, 2021 when Interim President Richard Yao presented Bartosiewicz with a 2021 President’s Award for Student Innovation.

“Cameron saw a need in his community and took active steps to address it by beginning a new nonprofit 501c3 organization to support LGBTQ students called The Youth Pride Association or YPA,” Yao said during Convocation. “We are proud to have Cameron in the Dolphin pod.”

Tayla DrescherTalya Drescher: President’s Teaching & Innovation Award

Imagine being a teacher in a position to have to tell parents that their child has a developmental disability. Imagine having that conversation with parents who speak another language. 

Assistant Professor of Education Talya Drescher, Ph.D. was awarded the 2021 President’s Teaching & Innovation Award because of how she bridged the gap between learning and doing by arranging for mixed reality simulations in which students could interact with an avatar and practice these sensitive conversations, sometimes with a bilingual translator.

“This was a collaboration across programs,” Drescher said. “We worked together to bring mixed reality to our future bilingual educators with how to talk to parents in a culturally sensitive manner.”

Drescher stressed that she did not do this alone, but worked with other faculty members in Early Childhood Studies, Credentials and the Bilingual Authorization program.

When presenting Drescher with the award, Richard Yao read part of a colleague’s nomination letter aloud:

“Talya worked with instructors to plan, develop, prepare, implement, study and reflect upon mixed reality experiences that allowed close to 100 students to interact with an avatar and apply their learning within a safety net of support from their instructors and peers.”

Krist O'Neil-Gonzalez and Interim President YaoKristi O’Neil-Gonzalez: President’s Staff Award for Excellence

Instructional Technologist and Accessibility Lead Kristi O’Neil-Gonzalez credits her grandmother with her passion for making sure those with disabilities are represented.

After Richard Yao presented O’Neil-Gonzalez with the President’s Staff Award for Excellence, O’Neil-Gonzalez talked about her grandmother and how she navigated numerous disabilities.

“I didn’t think of her as disabled. She was just my grandma, but our time together instilled in me the importance of taking action to help others,” O’Neil-Gonzalez said. 

O’Neil-Gonzalez won the recognition because of her efforts to design digital courses and learning software to be more accessible to all people with an eye toward equity for those with disabilities. 

“Accessibility and inclusive design are exciting for me,” O’Neil-Gonzalez said. “This is something we all should care about.”

Return to the Table of Contents
© Fall 2021 / Volume 26 / Number 2 / Biannual

Back to Top ↑