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Highlights from the 2024 Annual Celebration Gala

The 2024 Annual Celebration Gala was a night to remember, with 500+ corporate, community and campus partners, and individuals in community to support OMA&D students and honor the evening’s award recipients. Through their generosity, we raised more than $470,000 to support EOP students!

The evening began with a social reception to the music of the live house band Chapter 5. Guests danced and conversed before taking a walk down the purple carpet to pose for photos with fellow guests.

The program began with a song by Suquamish Song and Dance, leading to warm welcomes from emcee Angela King, UW President Ana Mari Cauce, and OMA&D Vice President and University Diversity Officer Rickey Hall. President Cauce and VP Hall presented individual awards to two outstanding recognition scholars. Friends of the Educational Opportunity Program Board of Trustees President Barbara Lord MacLean and Board Vice President Anthony Sanchez presented the remaining fourteen recognition scholars with their awards. The audience roared in applause to congratulate the OMA&D students on their achievements and continued excellence.

Next up, Educational Opportunity Program Associate Director Jon Olivera introduced the student speaker for the evening. Jonathan Ortiz-Candelaria moved the audience with this story if perseverance, determination, and how he has risen to leadership roles among his peers via his affiliation with OMA&D. “To the team at OMA&D, Jon Olivera, my coworkers, the rest of the advisors at OMA&D, you guys have really supported me through my academics and personal struggles.” Immediately following the student speaker, emcee Angela King shared her story about being an OMA&D student and how EOP helped her through her academics and the incredible impact of the work that takes place in OMA&D.

Guests were rallied by professional fundraising auctioneer Sasha Summer Cousineau, who presented specially curated auction items and a Raise-the-Paddle program where guests could contribute directly to the OMA&D’s programs. Following the thrilling and record-breaking fundraising portion of the evening, it was time to honor this year’s award honorees.

Rickey Hall returned to stage and presented the inaugural OMA&D Spark Award to Mariama Suwaneh (’17). In her remarks, Mariama challenged guests to dream, to see beyond what is in our own realities, and to transform the impossible into what is possible. She continued, “I have seen the power of being connected to each other. But it starts with us as individuals being so radially empathetic – that it just might transform us.”

Barbara Lord Maclean and Rickey Hall presenting the legacy award for a demonstrated lifetime commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion here at the UW, in their community, and more. The 2024 Charles E. Odegaard Award was presented to Suquamish Tribe Chairman and UW Regent Leonard Forsman. Chairman Forsman accepted the award, sharing some highlights of his time growing up and some of the accomplishments he is most proud of over time. He thanked the American Indian faculty and staff for the work they do to make the UW more welcoming for American Indian and Alaska Native students. He recognized the investments the UW has made over time and left us with some encouragement to continue the work. “The UW has made a great beginning in advancing American Indian success here on campus – it still has a long way to go.”

Before Chairman Forsman left the stage, Director of the OMA&D wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House Chenoa Henry (Tulalip) and her team took the stage to present him with a blanket. Chenoa explained, “It is a culture and tradition to blanket those we are honoring and celebrating. We want to – from wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House – thank you for all the work you have done to advocate for native students, the native community, and of course, for your ongoing support of the Phase 2 project.”

The gala closed out the way it started, with music from Chapter 5 while guests danced, chatted, and took more photos. One guest commented before she left, “I look forward to this event every year, and it never disappoints.”





2024 Event Photos 
2024 Event Video

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