Claremont, Calif. (May 3, 2023)—Each year, Pitzer College recognizes alumni who exemplify the College’s core values in their profession and in their community and who act in service for the College.
Pitzer recognizes Sekou Andrews ’94 as the College’s 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and Keiko Budech ’14 as the 2023 Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient. Andrews and Budech were honored with a celebration and awards dinner during Pitzer’s Alumni Weekend 2023.
2023 Distinguished Alumni Award: Sekou Andrews ’94
Pitzer’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a graduate who boldly puts the spirit of a Pitzer education into action and demonstrates a commitment to making meaningful changes in their community.
Andrews is a Grammy-nominated poet, a two-time poetry slam national champ, a powerful performer, and an inspirational storyteller who has performed for President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Quincy Jones, along with many others.
A schoolteacher turned actor, musician, two-time national poetry slam champion, entrepreneur, and award-winning poetic voice, Andrews can be found keynoting at a leadership conference, helping a Fortune 500 company with brand messaging, or even performing for Barack Obama in Oprah’s backyard. Andrews is the creator of Poetic Voice, a new, cutting-edge speaking category that seamlessly fuses inspirational speaking with spoken word poetry to make messages more moving and memorable. His dynamic blend of strategic storytelling, business insight, spoken word, theater, and comedy turns events into experiences and transforms audiences of informed receivers into enrolled responders.
Andrews does more than inspire us with his story; he inspires us with our story. His work has garnered prestigious awards in advertising, theater, business, poetry, and music, including a Grammy nomination for “Best Spoken Word Album.” Andrews’ vanguard career is driven by his mission to not only inspire the world but teach people how to be inspiring themselves.
2023 Young Alumni Achievement Award: Keiko Budech ’14
Pitzer’s Young Alumni Achievement Award recognizes graduates of the last 10 years who apply Pitzer’s unique educational experience to their professional life and find creative and innovative ways to make impactful changes in the community.
Budech is a community builder, racial equity practitioner and facilitator, and transportation policy expert. Budech is the equity, inclusion, and belonging manager at King County Metro Transit, where she operationalizes equity policy and builds collective action that advances racial justice and redistributes power at Metro. She has led organizational racial equity action plans at her previous nonprofit positions and built racial equity policy frameworks with the Puget Sound Racial Equity Cohort. She is committed to dismantling systems of oppression and leading with love.
Budech was an environmental analysis major at Pitzer, where she researched the gendered struggles of female farmworkers in the Coachella Valley and politically organized with Lideres Campesinas. She was the co-president of Pitzer’s Outdoors Club, an organizer with the Claremont Colleges Divestment team, and a volunteer at the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center. She also studied in Pitzer’s Nepal program and Pitzer in Ontario (now CASA Pitzer).
Before working in local government, Budech worked in political nonprofits for seven years, advancing transportation and housing policies. She is the board president of the Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness and a board member of the Henry Jackson Foundation. At Transportation Choices Coalition, Budech built coalitions to pass ballot initiatives to support transportation access and funding, and she advocated for policies at Seattle City Council, County Council, and the state legislature.
Budech has received the Henry Jackson Leadership Fellowship for leaders committed to public service and civic engagement in the Puget Sound region, Transportation for America’s Arts, Culture, and Transportation Fellowship, YMCA’s Get Engaged Fellowship, and the Udall Scholarship Award for environmental leadership.