Citizenship Award for Diversity Leadership Scholarship

Each year the President’s Community Advisory Committee on Diversity presents a Mary Washington student with the Citizenship Award for Diversity Leadership. This award is given to a rising senior enrolled in the University, who possesses strong characteristics of leadership and demonstrates a personal commitment – advocating for diversity and inclusion across campus. Once the recipient is chosen he or she serves as an ambassador for diversity, a peer mentor to underrepresented students, and a voice for underrepresented populations to the faculty and staff.

Once chosen as the recipient of the Citizenship Award for Diversity Leadership, the recipient will be asked to serve in various capacities throughout the 2019-2020 academic year. The on-going service agenda will be mutually beneficial, service will be provided to the campus community, and the student will continue to develop academically and socially.

Picture of a man in a suit smiling

Nehemia Abel

2019 – 2020 Citizenship Award for Diversity Leadership Recipient

Nehemia Abel is a rising senior majoring in Marketing, who plans to get a master’s degree in business administration after concluding his undergraduate studies.

Since his freshman year, Nehemia often attended and participated in events hosted by the James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC). He found the events to be enriching and valuable because they gave him an enhanced understanding and appreciation of different cultures.  Nehemia used the knowledge from those experiences to connect and build relationships with a diverse range of students on campus. Participating in events like Colors of Africa and Kwanzaa has encouraged him to join clubs such as the African Student Union and Brothers of a New Direction, where he has been an active member and held leadership positions.

One of Nehemia’s passion is serving underrepresented individuals. He has embraced this in his role as vice president of Ubumwe, a community organization that he co-founded with his older brother. Through this organization, he assists Burundian youths that are pursuing higher education and careers by creating a networking platform that they can use to connect with community leaders. Outside of Ubumwe, Nehemia is a resident assistant to upperclass living communities, where he provides leadership, support and guidance to resources on campus. Additionally, he partners with Habitat for Humanity and Micah Ecumenical Ministries to serve the homeless population throughout the greater Fredericksburg area.

Nehemia also served as a member of the College of Business (COB) Student Advisory Board. In this position, he represented the voice of students to faculty.  He used the skills from the COB to assist clients at the UMW Center for Economic Development (CED). As the client relations assistant at the CED, Nehemia was a part of the student team that established a business pitch competition known as Eagle Innovation.  As an active CED member, he was able to combine his business experiences with his leadership skills to continue raising the profile of differences that affect both the campus and Fredericksburg community.

In his final year, Nehemia looks forward to further unifying and empowering the UMW student body to be ever inclusive with the goal of learning to celebrate differences rather than creating boundaries. As his favorite poem by Maya Angelou goes “we are more alike, my friends, than we are unlike.”


Applications/Nominations are closed at this time.

To apply for the Citizenship Award for Diversity presented annually during the Diversity Program, which is part of Orientation Week, a student must complete the application as well as submit one (1) faculty or staff recommendation.  Faculty and Staff may nominate students for this award as well.


If you have questions, contact the James Farmer Multicultural Center at 540-654-1044 or msanford@umw.edu .