Valley’s Ayanari Morales-Rodriguez Earns DEI Leader Award (09/14/2023)
Sept. 14, 2023 | Valley High School junior Ayanari Morales-Rodriguez was named the Student Leader of the Year at the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce’s third annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workplace Excellence Awards (DEI Awards) on Sept. 7, 2023. As part of her award, Morales-Rodriguez received a $1,700 scholarship toward her future education from IMT Insurance, the DEI Awards’ Minority Leader Scholarship Sponsor.
“(Ayanari) is passionate about being a positive role model for younger students and seeks out opportunities where she can mentor youth,” WDMCS intercultural outreach coordinator and RISE co-sponsor Gianna Pugliese wrote in her nominating letter. “(In 2022-23) alone, Miss Ayanari served on a panel geared towards Spanish-speaking middle schoolers and their parents/guardians. She gave advice for success and wanted them to learn from her own personal experiences. Her answers were deep and thoughtful, bringing up a few tears in the audience.”
Morales-Rodriguez was recognized for her involvement with the Refugee and Immigrant Student Embassy (RISE) group at Valley, including playing a key role in the group's food drive last year. She was also honored for serving as a junior counselor for the WDMCS Summer Scholars program, which serves newcomer students in grades K-8.
“Most students who come to this state, they don’t know where they belong,” Morales-Rodriguez said in her award recipient video. “I really like helping people. I would say that I connect with people on a certain level.”
WDMCS students, families, and staff may also recognize Morales-Rodriguez from the district’s HERE! attendance campaign, which focused on student, staff, and community members’ reasons for being “HERE!” in our schools. Morales-Rodriguez did not hesitate to share that her family was her reason and included them in her campaign photoshoot.