MLK Spirit Awards honor work toward diversity and inclusion

The MLK Spirit Awards for 2020 and 2021 have been announced by the Ripon College Center for Diversity and Inclusion. The announcement was the culminating event of Black History Month celebrations at Ripon. The awards typically are presented in person at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast, but this is the second year the in-person breakfast has not been held.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is considered the formative figure in the modern fight for civil rights, and his legacy looms large in the work of all those who follow him in his cause. Ripon’s MLK Spirit Award honors members of the Ripon College community — students, faculty, staff, community members and alumni — who reflect King’s princi-ples and ideals in philosophy and action.

  • Living the Dream Award, recognizing a student who has contributed to the dream of equality and demonstrated visible and continuing leadership in one or more of the following areas: education, service, civil rights, community or civic engagement: for 2020, Mohammad Navid Nafisi Bahabadi ’22 of Bushehr, Iran, for leadership involvement in social justice issue on campus, ethics bowl and scholarly exploration; and for 2021, Inesha Wiseman ‘22 of Hazel Crest, Illinois, for being an activist and leader on campus.
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  • Drum Major Award, recognizing a faculty member who has made significant contributions to improving access and opportunity by dismantling barriers — specifically, helped put into place policies, curriculum and initiatives to enhance opportunity and success for underrepresented populations: for 2020, Professor Emeritus of Religion Brian Smith for promoting justice and inclusion through research, teaching and mentoring of students.
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    For 2021, Visiting Professor of Anthropology Ursula Dalinghaus for singlehandedly running the anthropology department and educating students on cultural diversity; and Professor of Art Rafael Salas for creating the Black Lives Matter mural in downtown Ripon.

    • Diversity Practitioner Award, recognizing a staff member who demonstrates excellence in their role as a diversity practitioner on campus. Their work and commitment goes beyond the scope of their respective job, duties or administrative responsibilities: The 2020 award, under the original name of Continuing the Dream Award, went to the Ripon College librarians: Andrew Prellwitz, Karlyn Schumacher, Amy Stephens and Amy Rachuba for providing and promoting events reading selections and research highlighting various identities.The 2021 award, now named the Diversity Practitioner Award, went to Chief of Staff Kara Kinas Jankowski for leading a group of faculty, staff, and students to complete the Inclusion Audit and helping to maintain a campus focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

    The inaugural MLK Spirit Awards:

    • Lace Award, Love, Authenticity, Courage and Empathy, recognizing a community member who gives freely of their time and service to advance the work of equity and inclusion: Kat Griffith, an engaged member of the city of Ripon and surrounding communities, promoting peace, justice, kindness, grace, communication, clarification, service, outreach, forgiveness, education and connections.
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    • Legacy Award, recognizing an alumnus who displays leadership and advances the cause of justice and equality in our community and society: Cetonia Weston Roy ’15 of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for establishing the Black Author’s Collective, planning to open the only Black-owned bookstore in Wisconsin, and writing a children’s book series promoting Black representation on literature.

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