By Sierra Storrs '21
ALLIANCE, Ohio — To commemorate the end of Martin Luther King Jr. Week, the University of Mount Union held its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Keynote Address and Award Ceremony with live streaming for family and friends. The keynote was presented by Canton city police officer, Lamar Sharpe followed by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. award ceremony to members of the Mount Union community that best embody King’s values and principles.
The following are this year’s award recipients:
- Armon Cook ’22, political science major and executive board member of the Black Student Union
- Nina Jackson ’21, human development and family science major and president of the Black Student Union
- Kayla Young M’21, physician assistant graduate student and member of the PA Student Association
- Michael Gregg ’11, assistant men’s basketball coach and co-advisor for Brothers Building Bonds
- Nicole Johnson, professor of philosophy and religious studies and department chair of interdisciplinary and liberal studies
Armon Cook ‘22, a political science major of Akron, Ohio, received the Alpha Phi Alpha Book Prize. This scholarship was created to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., who was a notable member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and to reward a current student who has carried on his legacy at Mount Union. Cook is also involved in various aspects of campus such as Pre-Law Society and Phi Kappa Tau, and he currently sits on the executive board for the Black Student Union. Cook was nominated for the award by Jordan Edith ‘23, president of Sister Circle.
“With Armon’s immense knowledge of politics, he has used this in order to advocate for the black community.” Edith shared that, “he has even lobbied U.S. representatives (virtually due to COVID-19) and has pointed out flaws in policies that would have negatively affected the black community at an alarming rate.”
Nina Jackson ‘21, a human development and family science major of South Euclid, Ohio, received the student award for her involvement and dedication to service. Jackson is currently the president of the Black Student Union while also being involved in organizations on campus such as, Active Minds, Pride, and Sister Circle. Jackson was nominated for the award by Dawn Adams, director of international student services.
Adams noted, “She encourages collaboration among and with diversity council organizations to help illustrate the interconnectedness shared and to highlight intersectionality. Not shy to step up and be an example, she always makes it a point to stay true to herself and her principles.”
Kayla Young M‘21, a physician assistant graduate student of Lorain, Ohio, received the student award for her dedication to serve as a resource to members of diverse backgrounds. Young is currently involved in the PA Student Association. Young was nominated for this award by Vanessa Worley, associate professor of physician assistant studies.
“Since coming to Mount, Kayla helped start a national student organization called PA-S LEAD, the acronym stands for Physician Assistant Students for Leadership, Equity, Antiracism and Diversity.” Worley shared, “Kayla is a founder and the current co-chair of this organization. This contribution alone is truly incredible and so deserving of recognition!”
Michael Gregg ‘11, assistant men’s basketball coach at Mount Union received the faculty/staff award for his commitment to serving the student body and assistance in creating new opportunities for men of color at Mount Union. Gregg was nominated by Darnell Tucker ’15, internal communications and event manager.
Tucker read in his nomination letter, “Michael has been an essential part of the Mount Union community. Through his dedication and hard work in various departments, he has gained the trust and respect of his colleagues and the student body. I’m proud of Mike for all he has accomplished, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Nicole Johnson, professor of philosophy and religious studies and department chair of interdisciplinary and liberal studies at Mount Union also received the faculty/staff award for her involvement and dedication to serving the campus community. Johnson was nominated by Ronald Holden, assistant dean and director of diversity and inclusion.
“Dr. Johnson has been a strong catalyst for our students and institution in the development of awareness of social justice issues while demonstrating how to make a change.” Holden shared in his nomination letter, “I am sure Mahatma Gandhi would say that Johnson is being the change that she wishes to see in the world, while Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could attest that she sees the threat of injustice anywhere and dedicates herself to lead and help inspire this generation to fight for justice everywhere.”
The MLK Awards are awarded based on the following:
- Promoting racial harmony
- Advocating for social justice
- Collaborating with groups, offices, churches, and/or organizations
- Demonstrating a sustained commitment to diversity
- Fostering inclusiveness and an appreciation of differences
This year’s Keynote Address was presented by Canton city police officer and community activist, Lamar Sharpe. Sharpe spoke upon the importance of being kind to others and encouraged students to get involved in their community and to consider the impact they want to leave behind.
Sharpe informed the audience how Martin Luther King, Jr. impacted him as a child along with stories of his life growing up with the obstacles he encountered that lead to him choosing the profession of becoming a police officer. Sharpe encouraged the audience that it’s never too late to become educated and make a difference with your life.