The Big Heart award of 2023 goes to Arto Rajala and Elli Uusi-Kokko

The Dean of Marketing and Communications Arto Rajala and the Student Union Specialist in Students Interests Elli Uusi-Kokko were awarded with the Big Heart award this year. The Big Heart award is an equality award given by the University of Vaasa. The award was given on 14th February at a Valentine's Day event for the whole university.

The nominations for the award were open until 7th February and there were 40 nominations in total. The winners were decided by the University of Vaasa Equality Work Group.

This year, exceptionally, it was decided to give the award to two people. The award was presented to the Dean of the Marketing and Communications Arto Rajala, and the the Student Union’s Specialist in Students Interests Elli Uusi-Kokko.

In the criteria for the award, Arto Rajala was described as a kind-hearted person who always thinks about the whole community. He is present in all encounters, both within and outside the university community and has a genuine ability to meet everyone as they are – regardless of their title, age, gender, cultural background or age. He has been an excellent example for others how to build and implement a working culture of equality and mutual respect.

– Each of us has the opportunity to build a work community that we all can enjoy. Looking after each other is very important. We can disagree about matters, but together we can also solve them. This is the kind of working culture I have tried to build. I also believe that the true big heart in the end is the whole community, says Arto Rajala.

Elli Uusi-Kokko's election was based on her active role in the student community, the student organisation, her department and the Student Union. As the Student Union specialist in student interests, she works for the equality of the university community every day. In her work as the Student Union harassment contact person, she helps the members of our community who have encountered inequitable or inappropriate behaviour. Elli is a warm, accepting person and takes everyone into account. She makes sure that everyone’s voice is heard, and she is not afraid to speak out if something is not right.

– Promoting equality and equity is not just the job of one person, but of the whole community. I feel that when we create a more equal community, this also makes the work more meaningful. I have a lot of experience of how things have developed in this community and it is clearly a community where everyone wants to promote these things. That is something we can all be proud of, says Elli Uusi-Kokko.

The Big Heart award may be given to a person or a group that has promoted equality in the university community. The award is given by the Equality work group according to the nominations presented by members of the university community. Any member of the university community may nominate a member of the university community or a person or group from outside the community whose activities are closely tied to the University of Vaasa as recipient of the award.

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