Sean Hankins named the recipient of the 2024 Dean's Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Staff Award

May 7, 2024 - Shelly DeJong

A portrait headshot of Sean Hankins The College of Social Science has selected Sean Hankins, an academic specialist who serves as the director of the MSU Adolescent Diversion Program (ADP), for the 2024 Dean's Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Staff Award. This award recognizes staff for displaying an exceptional commitment to fostering an environment in which diversity is understood, valued, respected, appreciated, and practiced. 

“To me, this acknowledgment represents the culmination of all the people who have supported the dream and vision of the ADP—that support has allowed me to give back in ways that are important to me,” said Hankins. “My mission is to provide opportunities for success, and I couldn’t do that without the people in my life who have helped me succeed as well.”  

Over his 25 years with the Adolescent Diversion Program, a two-semester community engagement course, Hankins has overseen the training of thousands of undergraduate students as they prepare and then work one-on-one with court-involved youth. He is deeply committed to mentorship and fostering a supportive community. 

“It is not an exaggeration to say that Sean is the reason many of our BIPOC and first-gen undergraduate students in ADP go on to graduate school, as his mentorship is unparalleled,” said Cris Sullivan, professor of ecological-community psychology and faculty lead of the Adolescent Diversion Program. “MSU is extremely fortunate to have Sean in the College, and there is no one more deserving of this award.” 

Hankins tirelessly helps his students with applications, resumes, and locating research experiences. He can often be found in his office counseling students about their future. His mentorship often goes beyond academics.  

Sean Hankins talks with ADP colleagues.As one former student wrote in their nomination letter, “Sean emerged as a beacon of light and support during a transitional time in my life. Sean’s ability to relate to and genuine concern for the well-being of his students extends beyond academics, exemplifying the kind of personal investment that transforms lives.” 

Hankins is also dedicated to making a difference in the greater Lansing community. He has been integral in a variety of projects with Drs. Carole Gibbs and Jennifer Cobbina of the School of Criminal Justice—including helping to launch a pilot project on youth violence in underserved neighborhoods in Lansing. With his community contacts, Hankins has been able to help bring academic knowledge into practice.  

Hankins has also been a strong supporter of the Inside Out Prison Exchange class at Michigan State—where faculty members and students hold classes with incarcerated students at local prisons. In his spare time, Hankins also coaches the MSU Club Basketball team as another venue to provide mentorship to young men in college. 

Hankins graduated from Michigan State with a degree in Psychology, followed later by a master's degree in social work. In addition to this award, Sean also received the 2024 Faculty/Staff Award for Outstanding Contributions to Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Psychology. In 2021, he received the National Mentoring Award from Free2Prayz Solution, a faith-based non-profit organization dedicated to assisting those who have limited access to resources.