MLK Award Recipients Honored

January 20, 2016

ALLIANCE, Ohio – In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., five members of the University of Mount Union and Alliance communities were awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership and Diversity Award on Tuesday.

Selection for the MLK Award is based on applicants’ dedication to the following criteria: promoting racial harmony, advocating for social justice, collaborating with groups, offices, churches and/or organizations, demonstrating sustained commitment to diversity and fostering inclusiveness and an appreciation of differences.

This year the student award was given to Caitlin Shimp, a junior psychology major of Hartville, Ohio. Shimp was nominated for her dedication to raising awareness of diversity on campus and for being an advocate for other students. Additionally, her nominator praised her for always being one of the first students to volunteer to represent the university in any way. Her nominator described her as “someone who is very careful and thoughtful about how she says what she is thinking.”

Shimp is active on Mount Union’s campus. She’s involved in numerous organizations such as the Black Student Union (BSU), Association of Women Students (AWS), the Diversity Council, See the Ability Not Disability (STAND) and Student Senate.  She is also a Raider Guide, a Preview and Orientation Guide and a Regula Scholar.

The recipients of the MLK staff award were Keane Toney, director of Campus Security and Safety and Jesse Cunion, executive director of the Center for Student Success.

Toney was nominated for his work in diversity education and his compassion towards all people. His nominator states, “Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who exemplified many values and characteristics. Some of those traits were courage, compassion, integrity…director Toney embodies many of these traits and is well respected in many communities as a leader and inspiration through his words and actions.”

Toney began his public service as a reserve volunteer for the Alliance Police Department. He was also the first African-American part-time firefighter. Through these experiences, he was able to start and operate Toney Police Consulting, which provides training in diversity and bias recognition.

Cunion, the second staff award recipient, is the campus advisor for Gay Straight Alliance, a participant and coordinator of the ExploRaider Program and the campus advisor for the Raider Programming Board. As the advisor for RPB, she created an initiative to collaborate with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to present a more diverse array of programs for students. This included the annual Fashion Show, the Not Another Statistic Diversity conference and events for Black History Month and Women’s History Month.

Cunion’s nominator explains, “I am continuously impressed with not only Jesse’s passion for her work, but for her kind and caring compassion for the students themselves. Her steadfast commitment to ensuring they have the best experience possible while studying at Mount Union is second to none. Jesse lives and epitomizes the values and ideals we seek to instill in our students – meaningful work and responsible citizenship, leading to fulfilling lives.”

Finally, sisters Cheryl Grimes and Mildred Grimes-Gurley are the co-recipients for the MLK community member award. As native members of the Alliance community, they have been giving to the Carnation City for most of their lives. They are involved with the Order of the Eastern Star as advisors to the Girls’ Assembly, serve as crossing guards at Rockhill Elementary School and run the monthly “Men Make a Difference” organization at Rockhill Elementary, a program that brings in men from the community to read to students.

Their nominator explains, “the sisters regularly attend many community meetings…I can count on one hand the number of school board meetings that they have missed in the past several years. I could continue on, but the moral of the story is this…wherever there is a need for advocacy or support for the youth or citizens of Alliance, you will almost always find Mildred and Cheryl at the front of the line to provide that support.”   

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