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Equity & Inclusion

Father and son at graduation
Whether you are a Pikes Peak State College student or employee, know that when we talk about inclusion, we’re talking about you.

When we talk about creating a more equitable and welcoming culture, we will look to you as the co-creator. We all have a role to play in this exciting and essential work, with the goal of equitable outcomes, and a higher level of student success across the board.

INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award
The INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.


About Equity & Inclusion

Dr. Enrique Romo

Vice President for Student Experience, Diversity Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Centennial Campus - A-324
5675 S. Academy Blvd.
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Office: (719)-502-2014

  • If we focus on equity and inclusion, diversity will be the outcome – we cannot build diversity without focusing on E&I 
  • Knowledge and Influence 

  • Intentionality 
  • Everyone takes ownership in creating an equitable and inclusive environment
  • Build an equity mindset
  • Our role as an organization will always be about being an equitable institution that creates a sense of belonging for everyone regardless of changes in leadership, society and/or politics


Dog at graduation


Student of the Year

  • Acela Rubi Carrasco, Global Village Student Ambassador
  • Nikki Larzo, Student Government Association President and Black Student Union member 

Colorado Community College System Student Excellence Award

  • Inclusive Excellence Champion - Fran Velasquez, Multicultural Student Union Leader and Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Recipient, Administrative Assistant, Office of the President

Faculty/Instructor of the Year

  • Gloria Nikolai, Sociology Professor and Sociology of Diversity Instructor  

Staff Member of the Year

  • Ashlee Dutton, Manager of Development and Leadership Advancement, Human Resource Services and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Digital Badge Creator  

Outstanding Community Leader

  • Rocky Mountain Women's Film

Distinguished Service

  • Keith Barnes, inaugural Executive Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and founding member of the Colorado Community College System Equity and Inclusion Council
  • Carlton Brooks, Executive Director of Human Resource Services,
    Title IX, Title VII, and ADA Officer, past Co-Chair, Diversity Team
  • Anthony Chavez, Administrative Assistant III, Division of Business, 
    Public Service, and Social Science (BPS)
  • Michael Couillard, Director, Federal TRIO Student Support Services
  • Patricia Diawara, Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness
  • Nancy Martinez, Resource and Finance Manager, Enrollment Services and Student Life professional, past Diversity Team member
  • Reginald McKnight, PPSC Alumnus, Professor of English, University of Georgia, PEN/Hemingway Special Citation, Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, Kenyon Review Award for Literary Excellence, Whiting Award, Drue Heinz Literature Prize and a fellowship from the  National Endowment for the Arts

Student of the Year

  • Mario Rivera Garcia, Latinx Student Union Student Leader

Colorado Community College System Student Excellence Award

  • Inclusive Excellence Champion – Tiara Reid, Black Student Union President and Co-Chairperson for the Real Talk Women's Forum

Faculty/Instructor of the Year

  • Karen Summerson, Director for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (Professional Development Workshops, New Faculty Academy), Faculty Leader for the USC Center for Urban Education Equity Project

Staff Member of the Year

  • Yuri Grijalva-Perry, Bilingual Spanish Admissions and Recruitment Specialist

Outstanding Community Leader

  • Carmen Abeyta, Co-Chairperson for El Cinco de Mayo, Inc. and the Colorado Springs Latino Community Luncheon

Distinguished Service

  • Yolanda Avila, PPSC Alumnus, Colorado Springs City Council Woman for District 4 (awarded in October 2019) 
  • Belenda Cornelius, Admissions and Recruitment Specialist, Ethnic Student Enrichment Program
  • Jacquelyn Gaiters-Jordan, PPSC Instructor, Faculty, Dean, and Associate Vice President, Developmental Education
  • Jessie Pocock, PPSC Alumnus, Executive Director for the Colorado Springs Inside Out Youth Services and former Vice Chairperson for the Colorado Civil Rights Commission
  • Ron Shields, Retired Program Manager for Military and Veterans Programs

Student of the Year

  • Chelsea Barrett, Black Student Union President

Staff Member of the Year

  • Michael Reyes, Federal TRiO Student Support Services Transition Specialist

Faculty of the Year

  • Dr. Dennis Natali, Business Professor 

Outstanding Community Leader

  • The Honorable Regina Walter, Retired Colorado Fourth Judicial District Judge and founder of both the Educating Children of Color Summit and Diversity University 

Distinguished Service

  • Ron Stallworth, aka the BlakKklansman, PPSC Alumnus, retired law enforcement officer and author of the book, "Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime (2014)" (awarded in September 2018)
  • Joe Garcia, Esq., past PPSC President and current Colorado Community College System Chancellor (awarded in September 2018)
  • Dr. Lance Bolton, current PPSC President 
  • Rieko McAdams, retiring Japanese Professor
  • Donnettee Patterson, retiring American Sign Language Faculty 

Student of the Year

  • Dulce Estrada Gomez (PPSC Student)

Staff Member of the Year

  • Konrad Schlarbaum, Coordinator of Sustainability, Student Life 

Faculty of the Year

  • Sarah Shaver, Theater Faculty

Outstanding Community Leader

  • Alana Mitchell (PPSC Student)

Distinguished Service

  • Dr. Regina Lewis, Chair and Professor, Communication Department 

Student of the Year

  • Nzallah Whong, Global Village Facilitator

Staff Member of the Year

  • Kristina Charfauros, Administrative Assistant & Events Coordinator, Student Life

DEI Faculty of the Year

  • Katherine Sturdevant, Professor, History 

Inclusive excellence

Commitment to Inclusive Excellence

Pikes Peak State College (PPSC) is committed to serving the good of the community. We do this by educating people. We provide open access to higher education and a high quality learning environment in which students can realize new opportunities and gain critical, 21st century skills they need to succeed in the workforce or in further education. Teaching people how to work effectively with others, across boundaries, is central to our mission.

This begins with welcoming and valuing people for who they are and for the unique contributions each person adds to our campus. It also requires our faculty, staff and students to encounter, explore and understand a broad range of ideas and cultures. Our community college mission is inseparable from the ever-­increasing diversity in our society.

Diverse and inclusive learning and working environments promote a free and open exchange of ideas, improve critical thinking, civic engagement and leadership skills, and deepen empathy and respect for those unlike ourselves. Our campus is enriched by a variety of voices and experiences.

Attracting, hiring and retaining a highly engaged workforce that reflects and supports the diversity of our student body are of central importance to our work. Other essential factors are expanding and strengthening opportunities for students to learn and succeed through culturally responsive instruction and diversity-­infused course offerings. We ensure that diversity represents a process of continual learning and improvement by developing, cultivating and sustaining an organizational culture based on mutual respect, inquiry and civility. (PPSC Diversity Team, October 2015)

2017-2022 PPSC DEI Strategic Goals

  1. Create opportunities to increase the pool of qualified employee applicants from underrepresented populations [IN PROGRESS].
  2. Administer mandatory workforce diversity training sessions for all search committee members [COMPLETED].
  3. Increase employee and student participation in cultural competence training sessions [IN PROGRESS].
  4. Disaggregate all campus data by various diverse student populations and identify achievement gaps [COMPLETED].
  5. Establish recruitment, enrollment, retention, and completion initiatives for underrepresented students in order to close achievement gaps [COMPLETED].
  6. Sponsor programs and initiatives to increase underrepresented student engagement and student intergroup interaction [EXPLORING].
  7. Increase external funding for campus diversity programs and initiatives [EXPLORING].
  8. Administer assessment tools to measure the impact of campus diversity programs and events [IN PROGRESS].
  9. Create more opportunities to recognize and reward PPSC stakeholders for their outstanding achievements and contributions to campus diversity programs and initiatives [COMPLETED].
  10. Increase marketing and communication outlets to promote campus diversity programs, initiatives, and achievement [COMPLETED].
Established in February 2017, last updated in February 2021.
Students under a tree
Students chatting


Individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations). Association of American Colleges & Universities, 2016

NOTE: Group and social differences are manifested in various forms among our administration, faculty, staff, and students including but not limited to: differences of gender, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, age, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, language, work classification, military service, socio-economic status, and ability.

Cultural competence is having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families. It is the ability to understand the within-group differences that make each student unique, while celebrating the between-group variations that make our country a tapestry. This understanding informs and expands teaching practices in the culturally competent educator’s classroom. National Education Association, 2015

The creation of opportunities for historically underrepresented populations to have equal access to and participate in educational programs that are capable of closing the achievement gaps in student success and completion. Association of American Colleges & Universities, 2016

The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect—in ways that increase awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions. Association of American Colleges & Universities, 2016

An educational reform that strives to increase the engagement and motivation of students of color who historically have been both unsuccessful academically and socially alienated from their public schools. Vavrus, 2008, p. 49

The definition consists of four primary elements:

  1. A focus on student intellectual and social development. Academically, it means offering the best possible course of study for the context in which the education is offered.
  2. A purposeful development and utilization of organizational resources to enhance student learning. Organizationally, it means establishing an environment that challenges each student to achieve academically at high levels and each member of the campus to contribute to learning and knowledge development.
  3. Attention to the cultural differences learners bring to the educational experience and that enhance the enterprise.
  4. A welcoming community that engages all of its diversity in the service of student and organizational learning.
Williams, Berger, and McClendon, 2005

According to Marilyn Cochran-Smith, a leading scholar in education, a social justice framework is one that:

"Actively addresses the dynamics of oppression, privilege, and isms, and recognizes that society is the product of historically rooted, institutionally sanctioned stratification along socially constructed group lines that include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ability (among others). Working for social justice means guiding others and being guided in critical self-reflection about the socialization into the matrix of unequal relationships and its implications, analysis of the mechanisms of oppression, and the ability to challenge these hierarchies."

Basically, a social justice framework is a way of seeing and acting aimed at resisting unfairness and inequity while enhancing freedom and possibility for all. It pays primary attention to how people, policies, practices, curricula, and institutions may be used to liberate rather than oppress those least served by our decision making. Sensoy, O. & DiAngelo, R., 2009

Unity is being together or at one with someone or something. It's the opposite of being divided.

1. - n. An undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting. Vocabulary.com, 2017

Fairness is the quality of making judgments that are free from discrimination.

1.A. - n. Conformity with rules or standards, 1.B. - n. Ability to make judgments free from discrimination or dishonesty. Vocabulary.com, 2017

When you value something, you consider it important and worthwhile.

1. - n. The quality (positive or negative) that renders something desirable or valuable. Vocabulary.com, 2017

Belonging is a sense of fitting in or feeling like you are an important member of a group.

1. - n. Happiness felt in a secure relationship. Vocabulary.com, 2017