Everyone has moments that change their lives forever. For EKU senior Diamond Richards, that moment came in her sophomore year (Fall 2014) when her grandmother fell ill.
At her grandmother’s deathbed, Richards promised that she would stay in school. As a first-generation college student, she knew how valuable the college experience was, and wanted to make her grandmother proud. In order to stay focused on school, and keep her mind off her grandmother’s passing, Richards began looking into campus organizations that sparked her interest. That decision formed Richards into the woman she is today.
A Lexington native and graduate of Bryan Station High School, Richards recently received the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, presented annually to an EKU student who demonstrates commitment to service and bettering the lives of the campus community. Richards sports an impressive resume of community service and involvement, including serving as a peer mentor for the Freshman Academy for Diverse Students, president of the Black Student Union and an orientation leader with the Office of Admissions, as well as serving on the student advisory board through the Student Life Office.
Through those organizations, Richards has grown significantly as a leader. While serving as president of the Black Student Union, she has learned “how to work with different people. I love absolutely everyone in my organization, but I also know that they all need to be loved differently! I know that I have to work with them in a way that causes the outcome of whatever it is that we are doing to be nothing less than extraordinary.”
Along with collaborative skills, Richards said she is also learning how to balance being a naturally emotional person with being a firm and responsible leader, as well as how important it is to voice her opinion on issues important to her. “I have learned to defend myself and be an advocate for minorities in and out of Black Student Union.”
Richards contributes much of her success to two very important figures at EKU. Tiesha Douglas, associate director of diverse student retention, is Richards’ “daily go-to” for advice and inspiration. “Her demeanor and presence just screams ‘Black Girl Magic!’” Richards said. “Ms. Tiesha is distinguished with everything she does, and she sincerely and genuinely cares about her students. She's so empowering.”
Another major role model is Dr. Salome Nnoromele, who introduced her to the Freshman Academy of Diverse Students in Spring 2014. Richards calls the Academy one of her favorite experiences at Eastern. “Going from a mentor to an ambassador of the program, it's an awesome feeling to see how many students are positively impacted by the minority upperclassman students at EKU.”
Richards is graduating in December 2017 and, as expected, makes no little plans. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, she plans on returning to Eastern to get her master’s in either public administration or justice, policy and leadership with a concentration in juvenile justice. She aspires to be a juvenile probation officer working with middle or high school students.
Richards said she is extremely humbled by the award. “Receiving this award means that I have truly impacted the EKU community. It shows me that my hard work and dedication to my collegiate peers has not gone unnoticed.”
And she feels honored to receive an award in the name of Dr. King, because he represents her “love and admiration for diversity. Diversity is fundamental and essential for a successful collegiate experience as well as a successful career experience.”
Her grandmother would be proud.
— by Yasmin White, Student Writer, EKU Communications & Brand Management