MOCA Hosts Annual Women’s Appreciation Dinner to Honor Student, Community Leaders

3 min read

Caitlin Doherty ’26

News Editor

On Saturday, March 23, Trinity’s Men of Color Alliance (MOCA) held their annual Women’s Appreciation Dinner which aims to create space for the campus to come together to honor women who have made significant contributions to the Trinity and Hartford communities throughout the year. MOCA, a prominent student organization, “For Men of Color, By Men of Color,” holds this Women’s History Month event annually to recognize outstanding and impactful women community members. MOCA members served attendees with catering from Black Eyed Sally’s Southern Kitchen & Bar, a popular family-owned restaurant in downtown Hartford.
MOCA co-presidents Xavier Mercado ’24 and Xabian Alarcon ’25 led the programming during the event, and the nominees for recognition were presented by a number of executive board and general body members. As they presented awards, a number of MOCA representatives also shared personal stories about women in their lives that had inspired and supported them. Nine women from the Trinity and Hartford communities were recognized during the dinner.
Presented by Mohammed Ali ’25, MOCA’s Alumni Relations Chair, the first award went to Tara Iyer ’24. Recognizing her work as an employee at the Office of Admissions and the Writing Center, Ali called Iyer “a voice of justice and action” on campus as a leader of social change. The next awardee was Anne Marie, a Chartwells employee who works in the Bistro. The MOCA member offering her award recognized her for her constant kindness and reliability. The next presenter shifted to discussing Hartford organizations and the importance of community partnerships, with an award given to Yessica Amparo, who owns a local catering business and has worked as a Lead Workforce Development Specialist at Our Piece of the Pie for over seven years. Our Piece of the Pie is a Hartford-based organization that “empowers youth with the key competencies needed to overcome barriers and succeed in education and empowerment.” Amparo was recognized for her outstanding work in youth development and support for young people in Hartford.
MOCA executive board member Elarios Drakontaidis ’26 then presented an award to Associate Professor of American Studies and Human Rights Christina Heatherton for her dedication as one of the leaders of Trinity’s Social Justice Initiative and her support of student activism on campus. Another Trinity staff member, Karolina Barrientos ’22, was then recognized for her work as Program Manager at Trinfo Café, where she has worked tirelessly to bridge connections between the Frog Hollow community and Trinity.
To close the programming, four seniors were given awards for their dedication to multicultural groups and social movements on campus. Tenzin Sharlung ’24 is a Cultural House Coordinator and Co-President of the Asian American Students Association, alongside serving as President of Garden Groupies. An exemplary employee at the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Sydney Cross-Watts ’24 served as the Head of the Black History Month Committee and was an executive board member of the Athletes of Color Coalition. Michelle Romero ’24 is the Cultural House Coordinator of La Eracra and has been a leader within the P.R.I.D.E. pre-orientation program. The Inaugural Research Fellow at Trinity’s Social Justice Initiative, Dansowaa Adu ’24 has been a mentor to many students and groups on campus as the Student Government Association’s Vice President of Multicultural Affairs and a P.R.I.D.E. leader.

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