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May 21, 1999

UW-River Falls Students Capture Honors

By Akilah Rainford

UW-RF News Bureau

Four students of color from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls recently excelled at the American Multicultural Student Leadership Conference, capturing five of 12 top awards.

AMSLC was initiated by four University of Wisconsin System campuses: River Falls, La Crosse, Eau Claire, and Stout in Menomonie.

According to UW-RF adviser Linda Alvarez, the conference represents "an opportunity for students of color to present scholarly papers and to network with other students throughout the UW system." Seminars and caucuses are conducted on various issues for each racial group.

At the convention, UW-River Falls students earned five out of the 12 prizes for four different artistic categories. These students are: Jackye Whitner, an English major from Minneapolis, was awarded first place in poetry; Por Yang, a computer systems major from St. Paul, was awarded first in visual arts and second in prose; Tuyen Bui, a computer systems major from River Falls, was awarded third in visual arts; Cha Thao, an art education major from St. Paul, was awarded third in poetry.

The theme for AMSLC this year was "Student Empowerment, Mapping the New Millennium." Every year a new theme is given to students to work with for the four different contests.

Whitner earned first place in poetry for her work, "What would our Ancestors Think If They Saw us Today?" A graduating senior, Whitner's poem addresses all cultures and how they need to look into their past. Whitner explains, "In each culture there are things that our ancestors have done that we should learn from." She thinks our ancestors would be happy if we continue the progress people have made by "Fighting adversity with diversity," and making sure that every racial group is seen as equally important.

Ms Whitner says she applauds the AMSLC conference because "it is good for students of color, and it gives others a real world perspective".

Yang earned two awards for a dress he made for the visual arts category and a third place in prose for his life experience in Vietnam as a young boy surviving the war and his efforts to escape the country.

Bui, also a Vietnam native, won third in visual arts for his glass work, a three-dimensional piece based on traditional Vietnamese art. He also participated in a Community Action Theater Troupe where student participants write, produce, and perform interactive skits reflecting cultural diversity relating to present day issues.

Thao was awarded third place for his work in poetry titled, " A Journey to Remember." His piece explained his journey from his home in Laos to America and the obstacles he had to overcome.

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