Rosalba Pitkin receives Social Equity Award

Rosalba Pitkin seated in upper Gaiser Hall, smiling
Rosalba Pitkin

Rosalba Pitkin was named the recipient of the 2020-2021 Lora Whitfield Social Equity Award, which honors a Cark College employee who has demonstrated a sustained commitment to advancing equity.

“She creates and sustains an inclusive environment for members of the college community in several ways, including advocacy for students and education for colleagues,” said Vice President of Diversity Equity and Inclusion Rashida Willard when she presented the award to Pitkin on Opening Day. “Though she will go above and beyond her role to support any student, her heart lies with immigrants and undocumented students, a particularly vulnerable segment of our student population. Rosalba creates an environment of belonging for these learners by welcoming them to the college, explaining the U.S. education system and how Clark can help them reach their goals, walking them through admission and enrollment processes, and offering consistent academic and personal support throughout their time at the college.”

During her years of working at Clark College, Pitkin has held different job titles, but her work has always centered around serving diverse students, prospective students, and their families. She currently serves as the Diversity Outreach Manager in the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion. In this role, she also provides employee training on topics that include how to support Dreamer (DACA) students.

Pitkin is a well-known figure for her work around equity and inclusion not just within Clark College, but in the greater Vancouver-Portland metro area. She served two terms on the Washington State Commission for Hispanic Affairs and helped to streamline Mexican Consulate services for Mexicans who live in Southwest Washington. She is also a 2016 graduate of the Social Justice Leadership Institute.

Pitkin often works closely with non-native English speakers. As someone who grew up in Mexico and had to take English as a Second Language classes before earning her bachelor’s degree in international business from New Mexico State University, she can relate to the struggles these students can experience.

Pitkin often refers to some advice given to her by her grandmother, whom she credits with instilling the importance of education in her: “It’s important to plant good seeds wherever you go. Just take care of them, and they will grow.”

“Rosalba Pitkin puts that cherished advice from her grandmother into practice every day,” said Willard during the award presentation.

About the Lora Whitfield Social Equity Award

Created in 2019, the Lora Whitfield Social Equity Award recognizes Clark College employees based on their exceptional work in removing systemic barriers for people with systemically non-dominant identities – people of color, people with disabilities and people who identify as LGBTQIA2S+ – in one or more of the following categories:

  1. Creating and sustaining an inclusive environment for members of the Clark College community.
  2. Improving intercultural competency for members of the Clark College community through diversity, equity and inclusion dialogue and education.
  3. Exhibiting leadership in best practices for social equity.
  4. Building and sustaining practices that challenge systems of power, privilege and inequity.
  5. Making the larger community a more just and equitable place to reside.

Award recipients receive a plaque along with $1,000 funded by Clark College Foundation. This award is presented at Opening Day before the beginning of fall quarter each year. 

Other nominees for the 2020-2021 were DeGundrea “Dee” Harris in the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion and Zach Lattin in Disability Support Services.