By Heather Hiscox
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tucson Mayor George Miller will present the Copper Letter Award this Friday to five UA employees and graduates of the Minority Achievement Program.
The award is based on recipients' community outreach, the graduate's change in outlook and level of contribution in the workplace.
The program focuses on encouraging minority employees at the University of Arizona to seek opportunities for leadership and achievement in the workplace.
"It is a very cohesive program in that it allows people to take a look at themselves and have the opportunity to develop their skills and make decisions," said Valerina Quintana, human resources coordinator at the UA and a recipient of the Mayor's Copper Letter Award.
The program was developed to help enhance the employee's abilities by allowing them to practice necessary skills such as assertive communication, writing, leadership issues and successful job interviewing, thereby building the employee's confidence with specific exercises.
Quintana said she feels this program sends a message to minority employees "that this is an investment. And that somebody cares about them."
"It is important because it looks at people's gifts, who they are and what they have to offer," she said.
Lourdes Canto, an accountant at the UA Cancer Center, said MAP is focused on "common sense values."
Canto went through the program two years ago and said she feels it opens doors, gives a person self-esteem and opens lines of communication in the workplace.
She said all of the skills that employees acquire can be used in everyday life.
Maria Chavez, a research technician with Family and Community Medicine and award recipient, said she went back to school after graduation from MAP in 1991 to pursue her degree in Mexican-American Studies.
Chavez said she felt secure in going back to school.
"I knew someone would hold my hand if I needed it," she said. "You're not alone after the program."
Annie Spence, computer communications specialist for CCIT, said of MAP, "It helped me get a sense of my career goals, it gave me empowerment, assertiveness and gave me a new understanding of diversity within the UA community."
Spence said after taking MAP I, she received a promotion and attended MAP II a year later. She said she feels this is a great program because, "being a minority, in general, you feel that you are not being valued.
"After the training, you have a different perspective, a different outlook," she said. "They are investing into the work environment and are interested in contributions that minorities give to the workplace."
Spence said after MAP, employees have "increased skills, do better in their job, have confidence and usually stay with the university."
Quintana said she wanted to do something to make a difference.
"These things have to drive us, or we won't get anything done," she said. "When one of us does better, we're all a little better off."
Margaret Abbott, Robyn Austin and Alonzo Williams were also named to receive the Mayor's Copper Letter Award.
The award will be presented at the MAP graduation from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Center, 181 W. Broadway, on Friday.
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