Westminster Honors Martin Luther King Jr. with Rally, Diversity Lecture and Day of Service

Jan 29, 2016

Jan. 28, 2016 Griff the Griffin invites youth to "Picture Themselves at College" during day of service   SALT LAKE CITY - Kids can be brutally honest. When 150 kindergarten-to-sixth-grade students visited Westminster, a few of them honestly answered the question "How do you envision college?" with - "Scary." "Boring." Griff photo boothThey weren't bored for long: Griff the Griffin swooped in for a photo booth activity called "picture yourself at college." Youth from Promise South Salt Lake's after-school centers could write or draw what college meant to them on a piece of paper then take a photo with Westminster's mascot. "Then we got a lot of 'cool' and 'fun.' Some made really awesome drawings of our logo," said Jeri Gravlin, a senior in environmental studies who snapped photos of Griff's new fans. The photo booth was one of several activities for a day-of-service on January 22 that wrapped up Westminster's Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration week. Westminster's Dumke Center for Civic Engagement partnered with Promise South Salt Lake and the Rotary Club of Sugar House to make welcome/hygiene kits for new refugee families and journal kits for The Inbetween, a hospice house for the homeless. In addition to sharing in service projects, Westminster students guided the youth through a dream activity. "We want to start the kids thinking about what they want to be when they grow up; especially with how Dr. King had a dream-get them to relate to that. They too can have dreams and their dreams are worth pursuing. But also, [we want to teach them] what it will take to get there so they can ask, 'What can I do now to become what I want to be when I grow up?'" said Stephanie Miller, a third-year McNair scholar double majoring in psychology and sociology. MLK dream artMiller was impressed with the dreams of each child. Some want to be a scientist, others NBA players, cops, super heroes and doctors. "Today I learned to never under estimate children. Some people can push away what kids have to say just because they are younger, but we need to respond to that growth," said Miller. "I've also seen people think that when underrepresented kids get a little bit older and into high school that they don't care. Activities like this show that they do care-and they have dreams that need support." Westminster's Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration week "Celebrate and Challenge: At the Crossroads of Change" began on Monday, January 18, with a rally and march through Sugar House. The march was followed by the Bastian Foundation Diversity Lecture Series. Robin DiAngelo, Ph.D., presented her lecture "Racism's Adaptations Since the Civil Rights Movement." Westminster President Stephen Morgan welcomed Dr. DiAngelo to a full auditorium. MLK rally"So much has been accomplished toward Dr. King's dream, but challenges remain and have played out recently on college campuses across the country. I am proud that Westminster is taking a hard look at itself to see how we can be part of the solution," said President Morgan. During the week, the college hosted several dialogue sessions called "acknowledging lived experiences." Students, faculty, staff and alums shared what it is really like to live, learn and work at Westminster and discover common ground toward community building. "I'm incredibly hopeful that we are poised for a time of tremendous growth in higher education and that we at Westminster can have respectful, meaningful, challenging conversations that will allow us to make changes across all areas of our institution," said Lisa Gentile, Westminster's provost. Westminster is working to generate change so that when a child is asked "How do you envision college?," the answer is never "scary."  

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About Westminster

Westminster is a private, independent, and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just, and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning, and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains.

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