GW honored three students whose service to their communities has exemplified the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thursday night.
More than 125 students, faculty and members of the GW community mingled and dined at the ceremony at the Arts Club of Washington.
The Multicultural Student Services Center presented Erika Emeruwa, Jeff Marootian and Nicholas Wiggins with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award, which the University gives every year to students who have made significant contributions to their communities by encouraging peace, multiculturalism, nonviolence, personal integrity, community and ethical or religious reflection.
“Because of what we know about the human condition, there’s a need for people to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said at the ceremony.
A committee selected the students for their community service efforts and how they have kept “the dream” King spoke of alive, said Grace Henry, a counselor at MSSC.
Emeruwa, a senior, co-founded the GW chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1998 when she was a sophomore, and served as the chapter’s president for two years.
“I cannot do everything but I can do something,” Emeruwa said to the audience after receiving her award.
Emeruwa registered more than 60 student voters, organized educational forums on campus, worked at the Calvary Women’s Shelter and has won many awards for her work with the NAACP, according to the Multicultural Student Services Center program.
Marootian, also a senior, said he began his community service in high school with a program in New York called Midnight Run, which provided food and clothing to the homeless. Since then, he has worked to increase student involvement in community service and the political process.
As vice president for community affairs of the Student Association, he organized the GW Votes campaign, the United Foggy Bottom Senior Service Program and helped to establish the GW AIDS Awareness Committee.
Marootian spoke about the “significance of compassion” and “the power of giving” in his address Thursday.
Nicholas Wiggins is a sophomore who currently serves as president of the GW chapter of the NAACP, which he also helped found. Wiggins has just completed his term as president of the New Jersey NAACP Youth and College Division.
Eduardo Lara, a 2000 GW graduate and a recipient of last year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Medal, made opening and closing remarks during the ceremony.
“I was overwhelmed at receiving the medal,” he said. “With that medal comes responsibility.”
Lara was the Latino Outreach Coordinator at GW and majored in criminal justice. He is now pursuing his master’s in education.
“I want to thank our honorees for their good work,” Trachtenberg said.
The event closed with a candlelight ceremony as the lights were dimmed and the audience rose to sing “Lift Every Voice” by L. Rosamund Johnson and James Weldon Johnson.