Dr. Vélez’s nomination recounts how he invited all first-year minority students at the University of Arizona who had declared a STEM major to meet with him. His strategy was to encourage students to continue their study of mathematics to “just take one more math class.” This award recognizes Dr. Vélez’s extraordinary ability to connect with students. His personal commitment to minority students is evident throughout his personal and professional life. His nomination further expounds by saying “he not only helped dramatically increase the number of minority students and students of color in the mathematics department at his institution but more importantly, let these students know that there is someone personally devoted to their success.” The MAA is proud to recognize Dr. Vélez's devotion to increasing diversity and inclusion in the mathematics community. Dr. Vélez sets the bar high for all of us.
Dr.Vélez responded by saying “I am very grateful to my friends for thinking of me for this recognition. I am so pleased that the MAA has created this award to highlight the importance of inclusivity in mathematics. To quote Rochelle Gutierrez, ‘People need mathematics, but mathematics needs people.’ I think that the mathematics classroom is the most logical place to highlight the relevance of our subject. Enthusiastic teaching would go a long way in attracting students to the continued study of mathematics.”
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Manager, Communications and Marketing at Mathematical Association of America