Please submit a nomination for a Wendy Wayne awardee by clicking the appropriate tab above that corresponds with the nominee’s age. For the purposes of the Wendy Wayne Ethics Award we define Youths as 24 and younger and Adults as 25 and older. Candidates must be from the Metro-Bakersfield region. Adults may be awarded either for a lifetime’s achievement or to honor a specific set of actions over a relatively short period.
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NaTesha Johnson, Adult Awardee
Johnson, a CSUB alumna, is the program director of Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development for the Kern Community College District.
She is also the founder of Upside Academy, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides volunteer and community service opportunities for youth in middle and high school in Kern County. In 2019, the Academy was named Nonprofit of the Year by California Black Chamber of Commerce.
Johnson is the co-owner of the Bakersfield Wing Festival and has been involved in many community service and civil work projects, including food and toy drives as well as various fundraisers that have helped raise over $550,000 for local nonprofits.
Johnson is currently the chairwoman of the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference and has served on several boards, including for the 15 th District Agricultural Association and the Kern County Fair. She is also the first African American female president of the Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater in over 90 years.
Ellen Eggert, Adult Honorable Mention Awardee
Eggert has been an advocate and champion for suicide prevention for decades and is a three-time survivor of suicide loss herself. She has committed her professional and personal life to spreading suicide awareness and prevention and support for survivors of suicide loss. Eggert is the founder of Save A Life Today (SALT), a local nonprofit that raises money to support suicide prevention and assist those who have lost someone to suicide.
Since 2004, Eggert has worked with Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and is currently the program support supervisor for the Suicide Prevention Hotline. She also started a Survivors Outreach Team that connects suicide survivors to community resources and services.
Uchechi Okey-Dike, Youth Awardee
Uchechi is a senior at CSUB majoring in biology with a concentration in pre-medicine. She works as a student assistant for the Helen Hawk Honors Program and also serves as an Honors Ambassador, through which she helps spread awareness of the program, provide mentoring and representing the program at various events. Through grace and humility, Uchechi models positive and consistent leadership traits.
Uchechi has served as president of the Chemistry Club on campus and volunteers her time for many initiatives, including the African Student Association, the Black Student Union, and as an advocate for he creation of a Black cultural center at CSUB.
She is also a representative for CSU Students for Quality Education, a group that advocates for students in matters of representation, safety, equity and more.
Minaya Valentine, Youth Awardee
Minaya is a sophomore majoring in environmental resource management at CSUB who hopes to one day become a lawyer specializing in environmental law. Since arriving at CSUB, Minaya has shown a deep interest in helping people who are underserved in our community.
She is a student assistant for the university’s Food Pantry and, in this role, she has served the CSUB community by stocking the food pantry and by coordinating events raise awareness of resources for food-insecure students. Valentine is also a student ambassador for the Basic Needs Department, through which she helps connects students with the various services and resources provided by the department.
Minaya is also involved with several clubs on campus, serving as vice president of the Environmental Resource Management Club and as a member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Club.
Award History and Criteria
Originally started in 2012 as the Kegley Institute of Ethics Community Ethics Award, the award name was changed to honor Wendy Wayne, after her untimely passing. In addition to being revered in the community for all her good works, she was one of KIE’s early advisors and strongest supporters; she was instrumental, in fact, in helping us set up the original version of the award.
There are two award categories: an adult (age 25 and older) and a youth (24 and younger). Candidates must be from the Metro-Bakersfield region. Adults may be awarded either for a lifetime’s achievement or to honor a specific set of actions over a relatively short period. Criteria provided below.
Adult recipients, by year:
- 2012, Ms. Collen McGauley, Executive Director of CASA of Kern County
- 2013, Ms. Wendy Wayne, presented posthumously
- 2014, Mr. Lance McCullah, assistant football coach, Bakersfield High School
- 2015, Ms. Jan Hefner, Mercy and Memorial Healthcare
- 2016, Ms. Karen Goh, President, Garden Pathways
- 2017, Dr. Thomas Larwood, presented posthumously
- 2018, Pastor Manuel Carrizalez, Stay Focused Ministries
- 2019, Ms. Judy Snyder, Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault
- 2019, Mr. Daryl Thiesen, Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office
- 2020, L. Dee Slade, African-American Network of Kern County
- 2022, Jayme Stuart, Kern County Network for Children
- 2022, Dixie King, Transitional Youth Mobilizing for Change
- 2023, NaTesha Johnson, Upside Academy, Inc
Youth recipients, by year:
- 2013, Ms. Victoria Scoggan
- 2014, Ms. Elizabeth Pelzer, North High School
- 2015, Mr. Joseph Constantine, Frontier High School
- 2016, Ms. Carly Riddle, North High School
- 2017, Ms. Yoceline Aguilar, South High School
- 2018, Ms. Navjyot Gill, Golden Valley High School and UC Irvine
- 2019, Ms. Yvette Flores, Kern County Voter Engagement Project and CSUB
- 2020, Samantha DeLaCruz, CSUB Club Gender Equality Now!
- 2020, Nikolas Lopez, Liberty High School, Equity and Inclusion Student Advisory Council
- 2022, Alex Fan, Centennial High School, California State Seal of Civic Engagement
- 2022, Neftaly Gonzalez, Redwood High School, Multicultural Club
- 2023, Minaya Valentine, CSUB Food Pantry
- 2023, Uchchi Okey-Dike, CSUB Social Justic Advocate
The Awards recognize individuals who possess core character traits that result in a commitment to virtuous action beyond their personal interests. These individuals have internal virtuous dispositions, but also act on them, striving to make the world a better place. Further, they do it simply because it’s right, not because they seek some fame or fortune. In fact, in nearly all cases there will be some degree of self-sacrifice: e.g., challenging a status quo in a way that causes personal and professional hardship or hindrance; acting on behalf of a vulnerable person, knowing that doing so will mean the loss of friends; or giving up on a lucrative career path, so as to instead try to improve the lives of those worse off.
Some will devote a life to these pursuits; others will become immersed in correcting a particular injustice: hence our two adult categories — “lifetime achievement” and “specific action(s).” To date, our youth awards have gone to people who are in the process of developing that lifetime commitment, as revealed in multiple actions over a significant period of time, but one can also imagine a courageous specific intervention on an injustice.
Examples of Virtuous Dispositions Include:
- Courage: Persons of courage display a quality of spirit that enables them to face danger or pain without succumbing to fear.
- Other regarding: Other-regarding persons extend beyond themselves, often through great effort, to better others.
- Diligence in the face of adversity: Diligent persons engage in the hard work needed to face and overcome a challenge, including overcoming one’s own and others’ apathy.
- Consistency: Connected to the idea that the actions in question are part of one’s core nature, persons of consistent character manifest the commendable behavior over some period of time.
- Impact: The commendable behavior brings positive change to the community.
- Humility: Humble persons demonstrate the commendable behavior in a quiet and unassuming manner. S/he does not seek associated recognition or self-promotion.
- Gratitude: Grateful persons recognize that whatever gifts they have are due, at least in part, to the efforts of others; s/he thus strives to give back in thankfulness.
- Fidelity: Persons of fidelity can be trusted to be honest and to honor commitments.
Ms. Hefner (2015) was chosen for her tireless efforts, across several decades, to provide support for Bakersfield area LGTBQ citizens, with such efforts ultimately resulting in the creation of the Bakersfield Gay and Lesbian Center. When AIDS first hit our community, there were very few medical resources and even less understanding of the disease and its impact, particularly on gay men. Ms. Hefner tirelessly worked to secure more effective healthcare and to provide an emotional support system for those stricken with the disease and their loved ones. She singlehandedly changed the way our community perceives AIDS and LGTBQ persons.
Ms. Carly Riddle (2016) was chosen for the courage and perseverance she shows in helping others, even while managing her own struggles with Asperger’s Syndrome and having grown up in extreme poverty. Even while her peers sometimes tried to make her feel lesser for being intelligent and lacking the financial resources to fit in socially, she topped them all by having the biggest heart in the room and consistently helping others to succeed, academically and socially. Ms. Riddle refuses to let her disability define her: She has grown into an incredible human being, one who continues to overcome adversity and make a positive difference in the world around her.
Application Due Date: November 28, 2023
Application Due Date: November 28, 2023