By Samantha Werkheiser
On Monday Jan. 16, ESU joined the nation in observing the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday with the twentieth annual celebration breakfast.
Over 450 people attended the event, a new record for the annual breakfast.
The event began with a jazz performance by local musician Joe Jefferson; following this was a brief introduction by Cornelia Sewell-Allen, Dean of Student Life at ESU.
“Today it is indeed timely to honor the life and the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Just as our families have had a profound and lasting impact on our lives, so has the great visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” President Welsh said during the opening ceremony.
After Welsh’s introduction, Pastor Carl McCullough of the Greater Shiloh Church gave an invocation focusing on the love that King, Jr. gave to all people.
The Julianna V. Bolt Art Awards were given to three local high school students, these awards honor artwork that either captures King’s vision or an artistic rendering of King himself.
Christie Lee of Stroudsburg High School won first place, Emily Loughery of East Stroudsburg High School South won second place, and Sidney Lang of Stroudsburg High School was awarded third place.
The ESU Voices of Triumph Praise Team and the ESU Xplosion Step Team performed following this set of awards.
This year’s keynote speaker was Carey Casey, a man of many accolades.
Casey is the chief executive officer of the National Center for Fathering (NCF) and has served on the White House Task Force on Fatherhood and Healthy Families.
Both organizations focus on the importance and responsibility it takes to be a good father.
Casey also served as chaplain for the 1988 Summer Olympics and as the chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys.
He is currently the chaplain for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I want you to know that the greatest thing I can do is not to come and give some great talk, the greatest thing I can do is to be a man of God, a husband, and a father,” said Casey during his speech.
“I think about where we all are today, we can’t let the dream die with our children,” said Casey later when speaking of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Succeeding Casey’s speech was the Gertrude Mary Smith Boddie Scholarship Award.
The Gertrude Mary Smith Boddie Scholarship Award is given to three students who have proven their commitment to social justice through work in the community or at the university.
In 1904, Smith Boddie was the first African American woman to graduate from a Pennsylvania Normal School, specifically East Stroudsburg Normal School (now known as ESU).
She went on to become an active participant in community affairs, pushing for the first black teacher to be hired by the New Rochelle Board of Education and organizing the first “colored” Boy Scout troop.
She went on to have 15 children, 11 of whom survived to adulthood.
All of these children went on to obtain degrees beyond the high school level.
This years recipients were Janet Sue Jin Ro, a junior majoring in nursing; Tamar Cato, a sophomore majoring in social work; and Francina E. Phillips, a sophomore majoring in political science.
Welsh then presented the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards to the four recipients.
Ashlyn Jackson, a junior biology major received the East Stroudsburg University Student Award for her involvement in over nine clubs, including the African American Student Alliance and the Student Senate.
Cornelia Sewell-Allen, M.S., received the East Stroudsburg University Staff Award for her work with many different on-campus organizations, such as President’s Commission on Race and Ethnicity and the Martin Luther King Celebration Planning Committee.
T. Storm Heter, Ph.D., received the East Stroudsburg University Faculty Award for his co-founding of the Race Relations Project at ESU and his introduction of many new courses relating to human rights and race.
Virginia Kirkwood received the Community Member Award for her work with many local charities, as well as being a volunteer of the Peace Corp.
The ceremony closed with a brief speech by Welsh and a performance by the Eleve Dance Theater.
Email Samantha at: