Ryan Creal '12 with faculty advisor Jan Bernabe, visiting assistant professor of art history.

This year’s winner of the David Nord Award, an annual prize given for projects designed to address critical issues facing the GLBTQ community, is Ryan Creal ’12, an art history and visual culture studies major from Hawthorne, Calif. His project, based on his thesis, is the first in the award’s 16-year history at Whitman to examine its topic through the lens of visual art. He was awarded $2,500 to spend on the project.

“It is such a huge honor to win this award,” Creal said. “The David Nord Award signifies Whitman's support for projects related to queer studies and queer issues in all disciplines.”

The award’s namesake, David Nord ’83, graduated from Whitman with honors in political science. He was an active member of Phi Delta Theta and served as ASWC president. After earning his master’s degree in psychology from Antioch University and establishing a psychotherapy practice, he became a full-time researcher and writer. He established an endowment for the Nord Award three years prior to his death in 1999, and attended the first Nord Award presentation at Whitman in 1996.

Development Officer Jed Schwendiman’92, who coordinated this year’s selection committee, said Creal’s project, which will include an exhibit component, honors Nord’s legacy.

“David Nord died of AIDS, and Ryan’s project on Street Art and AIDS activism in the ’80s was a perfect fit this year,” he said. “We are all looking forward to the exhibit on campus he is planning as a part of the project.” 

Aaron Aguilar ’12, a Spanish and history major from Pacoima, Calif., was selected as runner-up and awarded $1,500. His project, based on his honors thesis, looks at themes of erotic desire, suicide and dissent in two works by major Spanish authors. His will be the first Nord Award project written in Spanish.

Both students will present their projects for the public in the spring.

“At Whitman, we are very fortunate to have the David Nord Award to support research and creative work focused on the LGBT community,” Schwendiman said. “There were many excellent proposals this year and it was a difficult decision for the committee. The winning proposals were the most creative and best organized projects.”

Aaron Aguilar '12 with faculty advisor Alberto Galindo, assistant professor of Spanish.