Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for peace, diversity, integrity and service, and at the MLK Awards on Thursday, the Multicultural Student Services Center honored six members of the community who exemplified those traits.
The recipients of the prestigious award were staff member Bernard Demczuk and students Tura Woods, Michael Garber, Cynthia Pedemonte, Jordan Chisolm and Shakir Cannon-Moye.
For Demczuk, the University’s assistant vice president for D.C. relations, service was the only option. He said it is essential to “protest whatever, whenever, and wherever injustice is found.”
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray presented Demczuk with his award, which he received for his “incredible compassion and ability to give a voice to the voiceless by helping to organize workers in the city,” Gray, a GW alumnus, said.
Tura Woods, who holds leadership positions in the Black Women’s Forum, Multicultural Greek Council and serves as a University Justice, was the first recipient of the student MLK awards.
Woods said being a part of the community building community program her freshman year allowed her to realize the “strengths and talents of a team to reach a common goal.” From studying abroad in Jordan, “a region with much strife and suffering” to being a part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority with the slogan “service to all mankind,” Woods embraced her chance to lead as well as give back to the community.
Michael Garber, the communications director of the GW College Democrats and executive board member of the Jewish Student Association, thanked his grandfather in his acceptance speech for teaching him that there is good in everyone. Garber embraced the ideals of MLK as he founded the GW Interfaith Action group in order to form racial and religious unity.
“Martin Luther King Junior fought not through battle but through love, and I would like to do the same,” Garber said.
Cynthia Pedemonte, an executive officer of the Organization of Latino American Students and a four-year staffer with the MSSC, had a tear-jerking acceptance speech thanking her hardworking mother for her unconditional love and support.
“Each of us is capable of touching the lives of the people we encounter,” Pedemonte said.
Jordan Chisolm, a leader in Judiciary Services, the Black Student Union, and the Black Men’s Forum, spoke of his belief in the “unbreakable nature of the human spirit” and the “sacrifice, faith, and the better angles of our influence that MLK inspired.”
Chisolm plans to dedicate his life to causes that impact the lives of those who are less fortunate than him “with the inspiration and support of my loved ones.”
The final recipient of the MLK award was Shakir Cannon-Moye, a participant of the NAACP, the Multicultural Business Student Association, and Big Brother Big Sister.
Cannon-Moye said that “the true recipients are the ones that shaped me to be where I am today.”