The College of Education congratulates Dr. Maria Leite, coordinator of College Assessment and Diversity Initiatives, who was recently awarded the esteemed University of Florida J. Michael Rollo Diversity Impact Award. This award recognizes a UF staff member who exemplifies the values of diversity and inclusive excellence by actively contributing to and supporting multiple communities across campus. Leite was nominated by her peers at UF Multicultural & Diversity Affairs (MCDA) for her demonstrated leadership and efforts to inspire others to commit to creating a more diverse and inclusive community at UF.

Leite has worked at the university for almost five years and joined the EduGator Central team as a campus diversity liaison in 2018, after completing a doctoral degree in curriculum and diversity studies. In this role, Leite hopes to contribute to enhancing student experiences and fostering an inclusive environment for everyone in the college. Leite sought out this position believing her combined experience as a public school teacher in Brazil and in the U.S., in addition to her academic credentials, could greatly help impact the diversity initiatives at UF. 

The Rollo Diversity Impact Award is a direct reflection of Leite’s dedication and passion “to understanding social justice and how oppressive systems, still in place, continue to prevent equitable access to resources and opportunities to historically underrepresented groups.” 

Leite shared she feels honored to receive this award as an acknowledgment of her service to improve diversity in the College of Education and across UF. 

“This means a lot because it’s based on the recognition of the work that I’ve been doing in the last year,” she said.  

In the future, Leite hopes to continue to be part of various initiatives to ensure that we cultivate an inclusive campus environment.  

“I hope that we can continue to do partnerships with the College of Education and other colleges and events that are happening across campus,” she said. “I think one of the main goals of the campus diversity liaisons is to ensure this collaboration across the college and among the different centers to ensure that we partner effectively to disseminate the values of inclusion, diversity, equity and access.”