Queen Zabriskie, Ph.D.
Queen Zabriskie, Ph.D.
Sarah Hernandez, Ph.D.
Sarah Hernandez, Ph.D.

By Abby Weingarten

Championing equality, inclusion and social justice are passionate pursuits for New College professors Queen Zabriskie, Ph.D. and Sarah Hernandez, Ph.D.

In recognition of their efforts on campus (and in the greater Sarasota-Manatee community), Sarasota Magazine has named them winners of the 2021 Unity Awards. A feature about the honorees was published in the January/February issue of the magazine, and the awards ceremony will be held at noon Tues. Feb. 23 on Facebook Live and YouTube.

“This year more than ever, we need the hope and hard work of these women and men. Their tenacity and passion are rare, and we’ve wondered if being a committed citizen and caring for strangers are part of a special DNA,” the Sarasota Magazine staff wrote about the winners of the 11th annual awards. “Instead of building walls, they are building bridges, empowering people of every color, religion, gender, social class and age.”

Zabriskie is an associate professor of sociology, and Hernandez is an associate professor of sociology and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New College.

Together, the two are co-directors of New College’s Initiative on Diversity and Equity in Academics (IDEA), which is an outgrowth of the College’s Faculty of Color and Underrepresented Groups. The objective of IDEA is to create clarity on diversity and equity across the entire New College curriculum, which has involved such efforts as co-developing interdisciplinary courses on race and ethnicity.

Zabriskie co-founded the Black History Month celebration, which is currently underway at New College this February, with events (from a “Black Lives Still Matter”-themed symposium to a Black Music and Literature Listen-In) that are open to the campus and the public. She has worked on community-based initiatives with adjunct New College professor Dr. Lisa Merritt at the Multicultural Health Institute, and she helped create the Sarasota Anti-Racism Working Group through the Peace Education and Action Center (of which Hernandez is a part).

Additionally, Hernandez mentors low-income, first-generation Latinx students through the UnidosNow Future Leaders Academy, helping them navigate college applications and scholarship opportunities. And she works with the local Quaker congregation to address homelessness and environmental issues community-wide.

For Hernandez and Zabriskie, promoting humanitarian values and cultural awareness is integral to their mission as educators.

“To be able to do this work is an honor, a joy and a responsibility,” Zabriskie told Sarasota Magazine.

Hernandez is grateful to publications like Sarasota Magazine that publicly value “behaviors that create a caring society,” she said.

“At a time when there are forces pushing against racial justice, it is important to speak loudly for racial justice,” Hernandez said. “The Unity Award represents recognition for the efforts that many people make in order to improve the quality of life of all the people in their community. It represents a value we should prioritize.”

Read more about Zabriskie’s work in the Sarasota Magazine feature “New College Professor Queen Zabriskie Creates Powerful Conversations About Race”.

Read more about Hernandez’s work in the Sarasota Magazine feature “Sarah Hernandez’s Work for Social Justice and Racial Equality Is Rooted in Her Own Heritage”.

To learn more about the Unity Awards, visit sarasotamagazine.com/best-of-sarasota/2021-unity-award-winners.

To register for a link to the awards ceremony, visit ticketing.sagacitymedia.com/e/unity-awards-2021.

Abby Weingarten is the senior editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.

Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida is a top-ranked public liberal arts college and the state’s Honors College of Florida. New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement by providing a highly individualized education that integrates academic rigor with career-building experiences. New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in arts, humanities and sciences, a master’s degree program in applied data science, and certificates in technology, finance, and business skills.

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