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Morton, Powell and Velarde receive Distinguished Woman of Color Awards

03/11/2013

Jacqueline Rioja Velarde (left) and Yu Tong (Jade) Morton (right), recipients of the Jennie Elder Suel Distinguished Woman of Color Award. Myrtis H. Powell, not pictured, also received the award. Jacqueline Johnson (center) was an organizer of the Celebrating Global Sisterhood event March 6 (photo by Jeff Sabo)
Jacqueline Rioja Velarde (left) and Yu Tong (Jade) Morton (right), recipients of the Jennie Elder Suel Distinguished Woman of Color Award. Myrtis H. Powell, not pictured, also received the award. Jacqueline Johnson (center) was an organizer of the Celebrating Global Sisterhood event March 6 (photo by Jeff Sabo)
Yu Tong (Jade) Morton, professor of electrical and computer engineering; Myrtis H. Powell, vice president emerita of student affairs; and Jacqueline Rioja Velarde, associate director of the Center for American and World Cultures, each received the Jennie Elder Suel Distinguished Woman of Color Award during the Celebrating Global Sisterhood event March 6.

The award recognizes spirited women of color, particularly those who have been warm and welcoming to others. It was given in 1994 for the first time to Jennie Elder Suel, who was dedicated to the Miami and Oxford communities by providing housing, meals and entertainment for Miami students. 


Morton, Powell and Velarde were recognized for numerous contributions both in their professional fields and in the community.

Jade Morton reaches out to local high school girls as an activities organizer for First Abilities STEM. She hosts multiple dinner banquets, engineering project demonstrations and workshops, introducing girls to engineering topics. Morton also served as adviser for the Society of Woman Engineers 2008-2009 and mentored the Talawanda High School Robotics Competition Team. All of the female students involved are now pursuing or planning to pursue a STEM-related career.

Morton became the first female full professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 2009. She joined Miami in 2000 and played a critical role in the founding of the department of electrical and computer engineering.

She was the 2011 president of the International Association of Chinese Professionals in Global Positioning Systems (CPGPS) and is the 2012-2014 chair of the Institute of Navigation (ION)'s Satellite Division.

“Everyone around Jade has been touched by her warmth and hospitality,” according to her nominators. “She has contributed to the lives of her students at Miami and made a positive impact at Miami and in the Oxford community.“

Myrtis H. Powell has been a role model and leader for many at Miami University and in greater Cincinnati, according to her nominators. During her 21 years at Miami, from 1981-2002, she was instrumental in transforming the face of Miami through her advocacy for and mentorship of students of color. She was the driving force behind the “I Am Miami” campaign, with the goal of creating a more welcoming and supportive campus climate for underrepresented students.

She led innovations in recruitment, strategic planning, student leadership, service learning and learning communities and improved diversity among staff and students. At the same time, her nominators report, she devoted many hours of her personal time mentoring students.

She is an active member of many community and professional organizations at the local and national level whose main concerns are education, employment and minority youth.

Student speakers, award winners and organizers of the Celebrating Global Sisterhood event March 6 (photo by Jeff Sabo)
Student speakers, award winners and organizers of the Celebrating Global Sisterhood event March 6 (photo by Jeff Sabo)

Jacqueline Rioja Velarde, raised in a multicultural environment in Lima, Peru,is an advocate for diversity, intercultural relations/communication and inclusive and international education.

She joined Miami in 2003, serving as a visiting instructor in geography and in the Latin American, Latino/a, and Caribbean studies program. She earned her master’s degree in geography and a graduate certificate in Latin American studies at Syracuse University.

“She is and was the person who made me believe I could make a difference,” said one of her student nominators. “She pushed me to do things on campus that would make a difference.”

Velarde was selected by the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs (OCHLA) to represent the state of Ohio at the White House Summer Community Leaders briefing in 2011.

Her service to the Oxford community includes volunteering at Bogan Elementary School, serving on the Talawanda School District Parent Advisory Committee and serving the Inclusion Network online community. She is also a co-founder of the Latinas in Ohio program.

She has been recognized at Miami for her professional performance and service to the community: She received Provost Pride Awards (2010, 2011 and 2012) and the Women’s Leadership Award (2011).

The Myrtis H. Powell Scholarship (established in honor of Powell on her retirement) was awarded to Tangelica Glover, junior Chinese education and Spanish double major from Cincinnati. Glover is studying abroad in Chile this semester.

Celebrating Global Sisterhood and the Jennie Elder Suel Distinguished Woman of Color Award are sponsored by Miami’s women’s center.

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