Discover Your Island

Islanders Recognized During Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Luncheon

March 22, 2018

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – As Black History Month drew to a close, the Islander Cultural Alliance (ICA) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi invited members of the campus community to celebrate students, faculty and staff who embody and promote the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The celebratory luncheon, held Feb. 28, is a multi-year tradition which reflects upon the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

“This celebration allows us to take a moment out of our very hectic schedules to honor a few of the people that go above and beyond to ensure our students can learn in an inclusive and welcoming environment,” said Susan La Torre, Student Activities coordinator and ICA advisor.

As a symbol of their extraordinary dedication to community service, social justice and civil rights, five 2018 Spirit of MLK Exemplary Award winners were each presented a plaque during the event. The lunch also featured a keynote speech from Angela Walker, associate dean of students at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, who spoke about the legacy of Dr. King and urged attendees to follow their dreams, no matter the many challenges.

“If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough,” said Walker. “You will not have all the answers along the journey, but keep moving forward and along the way, you will encounter the path to your dreams.”

The 2018 Spirit of MLK Exemplary Award winners were:

  • Deshawna Colvin, program manager for the Summer Prep Academy in Programs for Academic Student Support (PASS), works as a full-time mentor for disadvantaged and underprepared students and continually goes above and beyond her daily duties to meet students when they are in need of help. Colvin has spent countless hours mentoring students from the African American Cultural Society and works to get students involved in the community.
  • Charlotte Murray, ’99, ’01, is an Island University alumna who walked away from a sure-fire job as principal to open her own nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for local youth to participate in personal empowerment sessions. Outside of time dedicated to her non-profit, she spends her Sundays at the Juvenile Detention Center ministering and encouraging youth.
  • Renita Newton, who is working to earn a Master of Science in Counseling, exemplifies what it means to lead others while allowing for personal growth and learning. She strives to instill hope and confidence in each person she meets and holds herself to the standards that she would like to see in the world. Newton continually improves on her skills through personal and professional development in order to keep helping others.
  • Dr. Amy Aldridge Sanford, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, appreciates the unique diversity found at the Island University and is an exemplary model of a leader who empowers people to make a positive impact in their communities. She volunteers at the YWCA as a mentor where she helps inspire young girls to succeed academically and personally. Sanford willingly gives her time to any Islander student in need of help or guidance.
  • Dr. Patricia Spaniol-Mathews, executive director of the McNair Scholars program in PASS, is a champion of the people who works to help Islander students who need it most. She is vocal about providing support for first-generation and low-income students and recognizes that these students are often underrepresented. Spaniol-Mathews emboldens all who meet her to seek the best form of themselves. She also provides training and resources to allow for better understanding of the world, including different cultures and personalities.