The UC Board of Regents and UC President Michael Drake awarded the annual Regents Foster Youth Award and President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership on Thursday.
Two students, selected from a pool of nominees across the UC system, were recognized for each award, according to a press release. The two recipients of the inaugural Regents Foster Youth Award were William Carter, a campus doctoral geography student and Fulbright Scholar, and Mary Tran, a first-year law student at UCLA.
“Beyond the classroom, William has been an extraordinary changemaker through persistent and powerful advocacy for the needs and interests of his peers,” said Chancellor Carol Christ at the regents meeting.
According to the press release, Carter is active in supporting current and former foster youth and works as a disability justice activist on campus. His research concerns the origins of racialization in the Middle Passage of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the origins of the correlation between “Blackness, criminality and ‘madness.’ ”
Tran is a board member of the Foster Care Legal Network, a nonprofit that provides legal services for current and former foster youth, the press release noted. She is one of the founders of Simply Friends, an initiative that helps foster youth build meaningful relationships. Tran is also involved in efforts for Southeast Asian students in higher education.
Deniss Martinez, a doctoral candidate in ecology at UC Davis, was one of the two recipients of the President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership. The award was introduced in 2010.
“This was such a big honor and a reflection of the amazing community of support in my corner,” Martinez said in an email.
Martinez said her work deals with environmental justice in forest management and consists of organizing cultural burn workshops and working with Indigenous tribes in California to support the practice of cultural fire.
In addition, she researches how to bolster collaboration between state agencies and tribes.
“I grew up in a small town near the Karuk Tribe and so I was familiar with the issue of wildfire but working with them gave me a completely new perspective that felt empowering and hopeful,” Martinez said in the email. “I aim to continue deepening my relationships with the California Native people who have invested so much in making me a good environmental leader.”
The other recipient of the award was Karly Hampshire, a medical student at UCSF.
According to the press release, Hampshire is the founder and co-director of the Planetary Health Report Card, a tool that has been applied across seven countries at 80 medical schools to help them improve through feedback from students, faculty and staff.
“These outstanding students have overcome significant obstacles to make it to UC, and once here, have excelled,” Drake said in the press release. “This award reflects our commitment to recognizing and celebrating our hardworking foster youth students.”