Today marks the annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and once again faculty, staff and students from throughout IU's campuses honored King's legacy by taking part in community events.
One of those events was the annual MLK Leadership Breakfast at IU Bloomington, where four individuals who embodied the spirit of King's work were honored with this year's Building Bridges Award.
The annual award recognizes people who capture King's vision, spirit and leadership.
"At Indiana University, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day is all about recognizing Dr. King's living legacy," said James C. Wimbush, vice president of diversity, equity and multicultural affairs, dean of the University Graduate School and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership at Indiana University. "There are few better examples of this legacy than the recipients of the 2019 Building Bridges Awards. Through their words and deeds, these individuals have truly embraced the spirit of Dr. King's life and work, and we look forward to honoring all that they have done for our community."
This year's Building Bridges Awards winners were:
Mariama Bah is a senior studying international studies with a thematic concentration in global health and the environment and a minor in Near Eastern languages and cultures -- Arabic. A 21st Century Scholar from Guinea, West Africa, Bah has worked tirelessly to promote inclusivity within IU's Arabic Flagship Program.
As part of the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies' student ambassadors, Bah helped recruit students from different socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds to IU's Arabic Flagship Program. She also takes part in the School's Mentor Collective program and is founder of Lend a Hand, which fundraises and collects donations for communities in Guinea.
During her time at IU, Bah also participated in Global Public Health Brigades, where she travelled to Nicaragua to build latrines and septic reservoirs and placed pipes for water distribution; interned at Catholic Charities Refugees and Immigrant Services; and worked at the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis as a camp counselor.
"My passion for humanitarianism empowers and inspires me to serve people in my community and beyond," Bah said. "I'm greatly humbled and praise God for instilling in me the gift of servitude. We must strive to promote diversity and ensure equitable access to services for people of all backgrounds. There is so much more we could all be doing, and by being active we can achieve incredible things."
Trishnee Bhurosy, from Mauritius, is a Ph.D. candidate in health behavior. Her research focuses on behavioral science, with a focus on designing and evaluating interventions that promote the consumption of a variety of vegetables in populations having a higher risk of obesity in Indiana and developing countries.
Bhurosy's educational and career goals are to understand and improve the eating behaviors of underserved populations to improve their health and well-being. In addition to her academic studies, Bhurosy has spent much of her time volunteering at nonprofit organizations such as Area 10 Agency for Aging, which serves marginalized populations in rural regions of the state; Community Kitchen in Bloomington; and Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. She has also served as co-editor and blogger for the Office of Career Services' blog in the School of Public Health-Bloomington and volunteers as a graduate emissary for the University Graduate School.
"I feel very honored to receive the Building Bridges Award," Bhurosy said. "Dr. King has always been a role model for me because he led by example and created a better space for others. I hope to continue advocating for underserved individuals in the community and improving the health of others through my work."
Raquel Anderson is a professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. During her time at IU, Anderson has been a fierce advocate of the Latino community and other vulnerable populations both on and off campus.
Anderson is the director of two programs in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences: STEPS -- Speech Therapy Education, Practicum and Services-- a bilingual track program for students pursuing a master's degree in speech-language pathology; and TRACCS -- Training for Research and Academic Careers in Communication Sciences -- a summer research program that targets under-represented groups. Off campus, Anderson spends her time volunteering for local organizations such as the Bloomington Animal Shelter; Middle Way House, where she works as a crisis line volunteer and interpreter for Spanish-speaking survivors; La Escuelita, a local program that organizes bilingual literacy activities for Latinx youth; and El Centro Comunal Latino, a community-based organization that provides an accessible and safe space for Latinos in the community.
"I am humbled by the recognition, as we do what we do because it is important and hopefully will benefit others (our goal), not for pats on the back (or at least we shouldn't)," Anderson said. "I am honored, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a person who I have always admired and recognized as a true hero, and receiving an award in his name is truly rewarding. It makes me proud of the little things I do."
Cristian Medina is a reservoir research scientist at the Indiana Geological and Water Survey. In addition to his work at IU, Medina has been involved in the community, volunteering with El Centro Comunal Latino and helping with their interpreting, fundraising and program development.
Medina has also helped coordinate programs for children at the Monroe County Public Library; organized Latino film series and computer classes in Spanish; volunteered as a host at a local Latino radio show to facilitate access to information on services in our community; and organized a food drive for homeless people.
In 2014, he co-founded Cardboard House Press, a nonprofit organization devoted to the publication and circulation of writing, art and contemporary thought from Latin America and Spain, bilingual events, community projects and workshops. For the past two years, he served as president of the Bloomington Indiana Scholastic Chess Club.
"I feel extremely humbled by this recognition, since volunteering and community engagement are part of the DNA of this town," Medina said. "I hope that my actions will encourage others to continue on the path of Dr. King so that we use our time, energy and talents in the service of those who need help. We should all come together and work at all levels, including government, local organizations, workplaces and neighborhoods, so that we have multiple ways to make this world a little bit more equal and human."