MLK Awards Presented
February 13, 2015
ALLIANCE, Ohio – Embodying the ideology and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., four members of the University of Mount Union and Alliance communities received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership and Diversity Awards in January at Mount Union.
Selection for the MLK Award was based on 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.
The following are this year’s award recipients:
Kimesha C. Flonnoy, a senior exercise science major of Maple Heights, Ohio, received the award for her dedication and commitment to diversity as a student leader.
Flonnoy was nominated for her substantial student involvement and exemplifying the values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in every interaction she has with students and faculty alike.
Having a regular presence in the Student Affairs offices, she is involved with several student organizations as an active member (and in many cases, an executive board member) such as the Black Student Union (BSU), Association of Women Students (AWS), the Diversity Council, See The Ability Not Disability (STAND) and the Raider Programming Board (RPB) as well as participating as a student representative on the Diversity Initiatives Committee (DISC).
Flonnoy is an ally and an advocate on all things related to social justice. Her nominator described her as an individual who “promotes racial harmony, collaborates with groups, offices, organizations, etc., demonstrates a sustained commitment to diversity and fosters inclusiveness and an appreciation of differences.”
Faculty and Staff Awards
Dr. Jennifer Martin, assistant professor in the education department, was presented this award for her unwavering commitment to fairness and equality.
Using her platform as an educator, she is unwilling to deviate from the belief that everyone needs an equal voice. She instilled this passion within her students by listening to other’s thoughts, respecting their voices, and challenging their thinking to extend beyond Mount Union and to look into the world with an eye towards equity.
One of her students described her classroom environment as follows: “she does not let the differences in people threaten or scare her, but she rather embraces every person for how he or she is; she makes the classroom a safe environment for any student this way.”
From her work with the American Women’s Association to her partnership with education students from Christ University in India, she strived to keep her students involved in the process of learning about various cultures and peoples so her students can promote racial harmony in today’s society.
Her nominator described Martin as an inspirational educator who “advocates for the idea of a level playing field to be the starting point for all human interactions, rather than a goal that we should work towards.”
Martin earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, philosophy, and education from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, a Master of Liberal Studies degree in women’s studies from Eastern Michigan University and an education specialist degree in administration and leadership from Oakland University. In addition, she earned a Master of Arts degree in English literature from Eastern Michigan University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in educational leadership from Oakland University.
John L. Frazier, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Mount Union, was also presented with a staff award for his dedication to student education and promotion of diversity.
Possessing a Bachelor of Arts degree from Heidelberg University and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Akron, Fraizer has a passion for aiding students’ success. He also gives back to the Alliance community, serving as president of the Alliance City School District’s Board of Education.
According to his nominator, “as vice president and dean of students, John Frazier goes above and beyond for students. He is actively involved in our students’ lives, giving all students opportunities to learn and get to know him on a personal and professional level; he is a person who truly believes in diversity and the betterment of all people in the Alliance community.”
John “Buddy” Gasparik, vice president of the Alliance City Schools Board of Education, received the community member award. He was nominated for his profound impact on the lives of hundreds of Alliance students and teachers.
Gasparik ‘85, a native of Lorain, Ohio, graduated from Mount Union and served as a teacher, coach and administrator for more than 25 years. Most of his career was in service to the Alliance City Schools.
Regarded as a brilliant role model and mentor for students, teachers and staff, Gasparik embodies the morals and principles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His nominator said of Gasparik, “among his primary concerns as an Alliance educator was making sure that all students and families, regardless of race or socio-economic status, had the opportunity to optimally partake of district services and activities were able to discover and develop their individual talents.”
From community organizations to volunteering agencies, Gasparik is a familiar face in Alliance. He has been involved in a number of ways in the community with Synergy Alliance, St. Joseph Catholic Church, the Domestic Violence Shelter, Alliance Neighborhood Center, Hot Stove Baseball, Little Aviators Football and Habitat for Humanity.