Four students and one staff member were honored for their contributions of service to the GW community and the public at the University’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award Ceremony Thursday night, hosted by the Multicultural Students Services Center.
Students Elizabeth Acevedo, Charles Basden Jr., Andrea Criollo, Christine French and staff member Tim Miller received awards. They were introduced by University President Steven Knapp.
“I can think of no better way to pay tribute to Dr. King than to honor students and staff who have so clearly embodied the qualities he espoused,” Knapp said.
Recipients were selected based on a range of criteria, but most importantly on their commitment to King’s legacy, said Michael Tapscott, MSSC director.
“We want people that King could look at and say, ‘Well done,'” Tapscott said.
As they received their medals, recipients gave speeches attributing their accomplishments to others who have acted as motivation and support in their lives. They related anecdotes from their childhood and various service projects, rousing emotional responses from the crowd.
Tim Miller, the staff recipient who serves as executive director of the Student Activities Center, said he felt especially honored to share the prestigious award with the student recipients.
“I’m really overwhelmed to be on this stage with the people I was with tonight,” he said. “To be even considered in their company is amazing.”
Criollo, a senior, said she was moved by the ceremony’s proximity to President Barack Obama’s inauguration 48 hours earlier.
“It’s been really empowering for me and made it a really special week,” she said. “With MLK Day and with Obama getting inaugurated, we all worked towards such a big goal and we were able to accomplish something that’s really proud.”
The recipients made it clear that the award serves as inspiration to continue answering King’s call for service.
“It’s this little reminder that is does matter to somebody and I am doing something good,” said French, a junior.
Criollo echoed French’s sentiments and also plans to continue her work.
“It’s good to know that people are behind you in the mission you’re trying to accomplish, but it just reminds me there’s so much work to be done,” she said. “I haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg.”