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2022 Distinguished Alumni


Derek e. Dyer
Executive Director, Utah Arts Alliance

Two phrases describe Derek Dyer: give back and never give up. As a young college student at SLCC, Derek faced opposition from powerful gatekeepers in Utah as he worked to establish the Utah Arts Alliance. “I was told I shouldn’t start a nonprofit and that I would never make it,” he says. But his desire to give back to the community through the arts was stronger than warnings from naysayers. Two decades later, the Utah Arts Alliance includes 7 venues and over 50 employees.

Derek credits SLCC in helping get the Utah Arts Alliance off the ground. The college offered him much-needed flexibility, allowing him to work while earning his college degree and take extra classes outside his major.

Derek’s advice to students is to “go after your dreams.” While at SLCC, Derek took paralegal courses because he thought working as an attorney would pay him enough to retire and pursue his real passion. Then, he discovered the college’s new multimedia design program. “I looked at the curriculum and decided that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve never regretted the choice.”


Tashelle B. Wright, PhD, MSPH
Director Heath Equity, Diversity, And Inclusion University Of Utah, School of Medicine

As a first-generation student, Tashelle initially felt like pursuing a PhD was beyond her reach. What she found at SLCC surpassed her expectations and helped her realize her dream. “Salt Lake Community College brought me together with mentors who helped me see what was possible,” she says.

Several faculty members, including Dr. Clifton Sanders and Mariane Howe-Taylor, took an interest in Tashelle. She says their encouragement changed the trajectory of her career by helping her gain confidence to pursue research and engage with various projects centered on justice, equity, diversity and inclusivity.

Tashelle earned an associate’s degree in biology from SLCC and transferred to Westminster College as a McNair Scholar to pursue a bachelor’s degree in public health. She eventually earned a master’s degree and a PhD in public health from the University of California, Merced.

Today, Tashelle serves as director of the Office of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine.