Sydney Ezell helps people. Whether it's helping a school in Jamaica raise money for a new building or helping her mother through physical therapy, lending a hand comes naturally to the University of Wyoming senior kinesiology major from Cheyenne.
Ezell's involvement on campus earned her the Willena Stanford Award for Diversity, something very important to her. The award "recognizes a student who has made significant contributions to increase awareness of diversity and the richness it brings to the UW community," award coordinator John Nutter says.
"Our campus needs to see diversity," Ezell says. "You can talk about diversity, but you have to be able to see what's going on and what groups are doing, try to be in a little bit of everything and promote it to everyone."
According to one of Ezell's nominators, "She strives every single day to expose others to diversity. She invites people to programs and shares her experience as a young African American woman growing up in Wyoming."
Ezell promotes diversity simply by being involved in numerous organizations. She's a past president of the Association of Black Student Leaders, as well as a member of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan and the Multicultural Student Leadership Initiative. Most recently, she helped found the UW chapter of Education Without Borders after some of her friends came back from an Alternative Winter Break in Jamaica and needed someone to help start raising money.
"My friends taught at a school that's unfinished. They have tarps between the rooms and over their heads," she says. "So we're going to raise money for that school and a December trip for alternative break so that we can go back and help build the school and give them the materials to finish it."
She expects to finish her bachelor's degree in December and then go to graduate school for physical therapy. In line with her desire to help others, she's always wanted to go into the medical field. But after watching her mother lose her left leg to peripheral artery disease and then endure rehabilitation, Ezell determined physical therapy was for her after seeing the therapist work.
"Her PT [therapist] never let her stop, and that just made her feel better. She realized she had people on her side who would keep her motivated," Ezell says. "She didn't just see them once and then never again. The PT was who drove her to get back to where she was, and that's what I want to do."
To nominate a student for the Willena Stanford Diversity Award, email John Nutter at firstname.lastname@example.org.