Oceanside CA— The NAACP honored MiraCosta College President/Superintendent Dr. Sunita ‘Sunny’ Cooke and Counseling and Student Development Dean Dr. Wendy Stewart during a March 12 Salute to Women of Color Awards.
The Salute to Women of Color Award is designed to honor women who through their professional or personal efforts make a significant impact in the lives of others. Stewart and Cooke were chosen based on professional accomplishments, community leadership and significant milestones in the region.
“It was truly an honor to be recognized for work that really isn’t work to me, it’s what fulfills me, knowing I am making a difference in the lives of others and my community,” said Stewart.
Cooke and Stewart were among those celebrated during the 2nd Annual Salute to Women of Color Awards Breakfast at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort & Hotel in Carlsbad. This was the second straight year in the two-year history of the event that a MiraCosta College official was honored for their contributions. Last year, Cynthia Rice Carroll, interim associate dean at the San Elijo Campus, was recognized for her many efforts.
“It is such a huge honor to be recognized by the NAACP,” said Carroll. “It truly is a humbling experience and it is wonderful to know that the work that we at MiraCosta College do for the community is being noticed.”
Cooke has since 2012 represented all of the San Diego and Imperial Counties community colleges on the Workforce Investment Board and is now the liaison with the State Chancellor’s Office regarding economic and workforce development efforts at the regional and state levels. She is part of the leadership of the region’s Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy campaign, a community college and industry collaboration that aims to close the skills gap. She also is a board member of the Carlsbad and Oceanside chambers of commerce, the San Diego Economic Development Corp., Biocom, and the San Diego Workforce Investment Board.
Stewart is a strong student advocate who, before coming to MiraCosta College, worked as an academic counselor at UCSD, the Transfer Center director at San Diego Miramar College and the dean of Counseling and Enrollment Services at Grossmont College. She also has taught National University in the graduate Counseling and School Psychology program at National University and in the Higher Education Leadership Program for Argosy University. Stewart has conducted research on diversity courses and service learning and has presented her findings at several national conferences, in addition to having her research published.
The mission of the North San Diego County NAACP is to empower underserved community members with the knowledge to improve their social and economic status through advocacy, human and civil rights services.