“The potential of Dr. King’s dream is not reached through the individual efforts of a particular group but through the collective effort of the nation, united under the banner of freedom and justice,” junior Isaiah Pickens wrote of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
Pickens said he has molded his life around King’s messages and has dedicated himself to volunteering. Pickens, a psychology major, is one of three GW students who will receive the University’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award Thursday. Senior Brandy Kelly and graduate student Nikki Finch will also accept the honor.
The annual award, given out by the Multicultural Student Services Center, praises service done in the spirit of King’s work. Faculty, staff or colleagues can nominate students.
The center will hold a dessert reception in the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom Thursday at 7 p.m. to hand out medals. Each of the recipients will also give a speech on public service.
“The common theme among all the students – the applicants – was that each of them had actually done something tangible, that if you looked at their resume or application it wasn’t just things to fill their time,” said Michael Tapscott, director of the Multicultural Student Services Center.
The center’s mission is to provide an understanding of the worth of cultural perspectives and to unite all cultures within the student body, Tapscott said. Leadership is also encouraged among students, he said.
Kelly, an international affairs major, is the founder of the Black International Affairs Society, a group that attempts to increase understanding of African culture and influence change in African issues.
“I know as I climb the mountain of life, dedicated to equality in education, housing, health and racial unity, that though the process is not easy, Dr. King laid the stepping stones through his struggle and persistence,” Kelly wrote in her application essay.
Kelly also participates in the Multicultural Student Services Center’s student-to-student mentoring program, which helps new students cope socially and academically with the transition to GW.
Finch coordinated GW’s MLK Day of Service, which took place on Monday’s holiday. The event brought about 300 students to Southeast Washington to do community service work.
“Service is important, not only to the community and campus because GW is educating students for the future, but also because we must be service- and civic-minded,” said Finch, also a volunteer coordinator for the Student Association. “It helps bring people together under a single purpose.”
Pickens is involved with the Student Association and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
Multicultural Student Services Center officials said they were pleased with the quality of applicants this year. Last year, students Chanel Haliburton and Sandra Guiterrez received the award.