Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science
A color photo showing a group of people with award plaques


Celebrating exceptional leaders at the DEIB Awards and CIS Formal

May 23, 2024

By Imani Finkley

On April 26, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science held their annual Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Awards ceremony in the Statler ballroom.  

The DEIB Awards recognize exceptional leadership by Cornell Bowers CIS faculty and students and honor those who have made outstanding contributions toward uplifting the Bowers CIS community. 

In his keynote address, Hakim Weatherspoon, professor of computer science and associate dean of the college’s Office of DEI, highlighted the growth of the DEI office and emphasized the importance of DEI initiatives and community leadership, within Bowers CIS and the computing field as a whole.  

The DEIB Awards also served as a moment for the college to recognize the inspiring efforts of those around them.  

“I really enjoyed the sense of community!” one graduate student stated in an anonymous survey. "It was great to celebrate all of the cool work that students are doing.” 

Distinguished Leadership Award 

The Distinguished Leadership Award recognizes those who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and service to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within Bowers CIS. Recipients of this award were:  

  • Gemmechu Hassena, doctoral student, computer science 

  • Aspen K.B. Omapang, doctoral student, information science 

  • Livia Popa, doctoral student, statistics and data science 

  • Lucy Jiang, M.S. ‘24, computer science 

  • Cornelius Boateng ‘24, computer science 

  • Judith Jatto ‘25, information science 

Faculty of the Year Award  

The Faculty of the Year Award honors Bowers CIS faculty members who have shown exemplary dedication to enriching the college’s undergraduate experience. Students from the Associate of Computer Science Undergraduates (ACSU), Information Science Student Association (ISSA), Queery, Underrepresented Minorities in Computing (URMC), and Women in Computing at Cornell (WICC) selected the following recipients: 

Compassionate Leader Award 

Kayla Sprayberry ‘24, a computer science major and 2023 URMC co-president, received this student-nominated award, which honors a student leader who has demonstrated excellent leadership skills within a Bowers CIS student organization. 

Most Impactful Student Award 

Robyn Burger ‘25, an undergraduate studying computer science and mathematics and president of ACSU, was selected to receive this award, which honors a student who is dedicated to creating a positive environment through their involvement with a Bowers CIS organization. 

Community Advocate Award  

Derek Sanchez ‘24, a computer science major and 2023 URMC co-president, received the Community Advocate Award. Sanchez was selected by his peers for his involvement in and commitment to uplifting student voices from underrepresented communities. The award highlights his relentless efforts to empower others and achieve more equitable representation. 

CIS Formal 

The DEIB Awards ceremony concluded with heartfelt congratulations to all the winners. 

 “As an awardee, I felt special and acknowledged,” one recipient wrote in a survey. "It’s so rare to have these moments for service, which isn’t always seen.”  

The night did not end there, however. The Office of DEI hosted the CIS Formal following the DEIB Awards ceremony, in collaboration with WICC, ISSA, ACSU, URMC, and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). With mocktails, a photobooth, performances by student groups, and even a guest appearance by Touchdown, students enjoyed a night of celebration, music, and laughter.  

If you are interested in learning more about upcoming DEI events, please email Cornell Bowers CIS Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at  

Imani Finkley ‘24 is a communications assistant in the Cornell Bowers CIS Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.