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Faculty and students recognized for commitment to advancing MLK legacy

Feb 8, 2022

IU South Bend faculty and students were recently honored with awards from Indiana University for exemplifying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy.

Darryl Heller, director of the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center and women’s and gender studies professor

Darryl Heller, director of the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center and women’s and gender studies professor, and student I’Vory Woods were named as 2022 Building Bridges award winners. This award honors Indiana University faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners across IU’s campuses who capture King’s spirit, vision, and leadership.

As director of the Civil Rights Heritage Center, a learning center housed at the former site of a segregated city pool, Darryl is working to advance the center’s mission to educate the community of past and present civil rights and social justice issues in order to create a brighter future for all. It is an honor to be thought of as walking in the footsteps of Dr. King. I am especially inspired by his continuous growth and development. The King who wrote that it was time to break the silence in 1967 was a more mature and battle-tested person than the one who spoke about his dream in 1963. I hope that I continue to have the courage to speak truth to power, as King did, even when it is unpopular or misunderstood, says Darryl.

I’Vory Woods, a senior social work major

Student award recipient I’Vory Woods, a senior social work major, was honored for her campus community involvement as a member of the Black Student Union and volunteer for Multicultural Student Showcase Days, a recruitment initiative aimed at high schoolers from historically underrepresented student groups. Receiving this recognition is an honor, I couldn’t be more grateful. It makes my heart happy knowing that I was nominated for demonstrating King’s characteristics, says I’Vory.

The IUSB Honors Program and Criminal Justice Student Organization were awarded with a $500 MLK Student Organization Grant. This honor is given to student organizations for programs, event sponsorships, or efforts supporting inclusivity, respect for diversity, and community service.

Inclusivity, respect for diversity, and community service are at the heart of everything the Honors Program stands for, says Neovi Karakatsanis, Honors Program director and political science professor. We couldn’t be more proud of the Criminal Justice, Psychology and Honors students who wrote and received this grant under Cathy Borshuk and Stacie Merken’s mentorship.

In fall of 2021, the students began an initiative to help the local YWCA make their donation rooms more streamlined and accessible in order to better serve victims of domestic violence and ensure they can get the resources they need.

Our core values in the Honors Program are leadership and community service, and in addition, our theme this semester is anti-racism, which dovetails with the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, says Catherine Borshuk, Honors Program assistant director and psychology professor.

Intimate Partner Violence affects more individuals than anyone will ever know, not to mention a disproportionate amount of minority women , explains Stacie Merken, Criminal Justice Student Organization faculty advisor and criminal justice professor. The MLK Day Grant is an opportunity for our students to continue to support the survivors of this traumatic and horrific crime, while trying to be a part of the discussion for minority women who are survivors as well and often forgotten.

The student organizations plan to use their grant money for buying supplies, such as additional bins and shelving units, to continue organizing the YWCA facilities.

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