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Mount Union Presents Dr. MLK Jr. Awards

January 23, 2012 - by Emily Mariani

2012 Dr. MLK Jr. Award WinnersOn Thursday, January 19 during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner and Ceremony at the University of Mount Union, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership and Diversity Awards were presented to four people who exemplify the character and life of Dr. King.
 
Student Award
Patrick Williams, a senior business administration major of Canton, OH, received the student award for his ability to recognize the value of racial harmony and promote all forms of diversity while working with a wide range of individuals and organizations.
 
On campus, Williams is a member of the Dowling Mentor Program, Fellowship for Christian Athletes and Raider Relief. The Regula Scholar also volunteers regularly at Feed My Sheep Ministries and with Beyond Our Boundaries, a program for adults with MRDD.

“The bond Patrick has formed with the people at Feed My Sheep is one unmatched by other students at Mount Union,” said Lorie Miller, director of community educational outreach, and Heather Eichner, Ohio Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA,  in Williams’ nomination letter. “Rev. Bobby Williams at Feed My Sheep now refers to himself and Patrick as ‘the Williams Brothers.’ Patrick’s commitment to the ministry became even more evident when one of the community members that attends dinner every week was going to lose her apartment. Patrick took it upon himself to call agencies to help her find a place to live.”
 
Williams’ dedication to those around him proves his ability to see beyond differences of any kind. He has aided a variety of organizations, committing to working with those of every age, income level, skin color and educational background. He is truly willing to help all walks of life. To Williams, finding ways to help and make a difference in the lives of others is what matters most.    

Faculty and Staff Award
Dr. Jim and Judy Thoma were presented with the faculty and staff award. Jim is the associate academic dean of the University and professor of human performance and sport business, and Judy is pursuing a degree in American Studies at Mount Union.
 
“Their life reflects the pure generosity of two people who have opened their home, their family traditions and their hearts to countless students, faculty and staff,” said Karen Saracusa, director of student accessibility services at the University, who nominated Jim and Judy for the award.
 
They both have wholeheartedly embraced diversity, as they have opened their home to many international students and created a home-away-from-home for them. According to Saracusa, they are almost like foster parents who welcome all into the Thoma clan and love, care for and guide them as if they were their own. “They do not know the concept of cultural divide – everyone is welcome in their life,” Saracusa added.
 
Judy, who is from Malaysia, and Jim, who travels internationally frequently, truly embrace global citizenship. They celebrate diversity through their involvement with the Association of International Students’ annual International Dinner as well as host parties to celebrate international holidays, graduations of international students and even birthday celebrations.
 
Community Award
Greg Rice, founder and organizer of the Greg Rice Tribe drumming group and resident of Alliance, OH, received the community award for his community service efforts.
 
“He is a people person who strives to make everyone he meets comfortable and included in whatever he is doing,” said Dr. Ivory Lyons, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies and assistant to the president for diversity affairs at Mount Union. “I am a member of the Greg Rice Drumming Tribe and I have seen him in many different situations and interactions, and I can truly say he gets along with everyone. His presence makes others feel special.”
 
According to Lyons, Rice has had some struggles in life, but he never gave up. He strove to be the best that he could be, which is why he is an example of what a person can accomplish despite one’s background. Although he has had to overcome many difficulties, he has always remained positive. Lyons also added, “He believes that everyone has a gift and his goal is to help that person realize that gift.”
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