Dr. Tommie "Tonea" Stewart - Alabama State University's (ASU) dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts - is one of only 11 honorees nationwide who will be awarded with the White House’s coveted Champion of Change Award on Tuesday February 24, 2015 at the Executive Mansion in Washington, D.C.
The prestigious award recognizes faculty and staff members at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's). According to the White House news release, “These leaders have worked with students, families, and policymakers to build pathways to graduation at their respective institutions.”
“I’m pleased and I’m humbled because, you know, when you’re just working and giving your all, you never think about anyone noticing or wanting to say congratulations or job well done,” said Stewart. “That’s not why I do what I do. Just think, for someone to refer to you as a 'Champion of Change' because of your work, it is a humbling experience; and I thank God that it’s not being done posthumously. I’m able to enjoy it; I’m able to see it and to feel it. I’m able to touch my students and say look how far we’ve come from the dream and vision of nine slaves (who founded ASU) to the White House. I feel really good about it; and I appreciate Alabama State University, our President Gwendolyn Boyd, our administration, our Board of Trustees and my co-workers for being so supportive.”
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. Stewart’s career as an educator exemplifies her lifelong commitment to empowering and inspiring her students, many of whom have gone on to pursue successful careers in the theatre, on Broadway, and in Hollywood (television and the cinema), as well as serving as educators in the classroom.
“For me, the most important fact is that the young people that I’ve worked with and the current students at ASU can look at this award and know that all of the hard work and long hours are worth it,” said Stewart. “This award is for them also. In the College of Visual and Performing Arts, we try to prepare our students for their future and foster in them a work ethic that they’ll need if they’re going to be successful. And my receiving the 'Champions of Change Award' at this stage in my career lets our graduates and our students know that hard work does pay off.”
In addition to the awards presentations at the White House, the event will feature a panel discussion moderated by actor and E! News co-host, Terrence Jenkins, and remarks from senior advisor to the president, Valerie Jarrett, and from U. S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
The event will be live streamed on the White House website. To view the live event, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live on February 24, at 10 a.m.
To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions. Follow the conversation at #HBCUchamps.