Thomas Nelson Community College’s Ann Evans was among the honorees at the annual Unity Awards ceremony hosted by the Citizens' Unity Commission at the American Theatre in Phoebus on June 8. The awards acknowledge the contributions of individuals, organizations and initiatives that support diversity.
A biology professor, Evans was recognized for her service with the Hampton Diversity College, an interactive program that aims to increase knowledge of unity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As a facilitator with the free program for city employees and other interested Hampton citizens, she leads activities focused on gender and sexual diversity to spark participants’ discussions.
“I also bring a biological perspective to the discussion. While understanding what we know about the biology of sexual orientation and gender is not a prerequisite for empathy toward others, it seems to help.And I always learn at least as much from the participants as they do from me,” said Evans, who was surprised and honored by the recognition.
“The work grew directly from my contributions to the College’s Institute for Diversity and Inclusion. I’m grateful to the College for inspiring me to learn more about gender and sexual diversity, and to share with others.”
Evans said involvement with the Hampton Diversity College allows her to add another layer to her instruction at Thomas Nelson.
“I’ve always tied the material to students’ health and other personal issues. Now I am more forthright about all of the social justice issues that biology relates to, including environmental justice, access to health care, acceptance of genetic disorders in others, the global CO2problem, ocean acidification, plastic pollution and more,” she said, noting these topics directly or indirectly affect everyone.
She joined Thomas Nelson as an adjunct professor in 2004, became full time two years later and extended her contributions beyond the classroom with several years as a student club adviser.
“About eight years ago, I had the pleasure of sponsoring students who created a new club, the Red Cross Club, and working with them over the years. The club sponsors three blood drives each year, which have contributed enough blood to save 2,000 lives,” Evans said.
She relished time working with the College’s Red Cross Club and is proud of its accomplishments. Top among those is collecting more than $500 in donations for the Red Cross and presenting the check to its regional director.
Evans has a bachelor’s degree in biology from South Carolina’s Coker College, a master’s in marine science from William & Mary, and a doctoral degree in ecology from The University of Chicago.
The 20-member Citizens' Unity Commission offers diversity education for businesses, schools and other entities dealing with community and workplace. For more information, visit www.hampton.gov/unity.