By Alivia Wenze, Senior
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is known as an extraordinary man, an activist who became the leader of the Civil Rights movement. January is a month dedicated to celebrating trailblazer Dr. King through numerous events and activities.
Our own Florida International University (FIU), for the past twenty-eight years, celebrates MLK through various programs such as the Youth Forum & Peace Walk, Day of Service, Museum Exhibit, Dinner, and MLK Day Parade. A main focus of these commemorative celebrations is to inspire future generations.
See this webpage for more information: https://studentaffairs.fiu.edu/get-involved/mlk-commemorative-celebration/index.php
Along with these community activities, FIU offers students opportunities to win MLK Scholarships and Awards: MLK Essay Scholarship, the MLK Peace Award, and lastly the MLK Service Award. The MLK Essay Scholarship gives three students the opportunity to win a monetary prize. The main idea of the essay is “Regarding the Past, Empowering the Future,” displaying the knowledge of the life, work, and beliefs of Dr.King. The MLK Peace Award is for students who exhibit some of the same goals and attributes of Dr.King who is actively making a difference in their community. The last award is the MLK Service Award, which is the same as the peace award previously mentioned.
iPreparatory Academy recent graduate Melanie Rodriguez, class of 2018, wrote an essay and won the 3rd place in the MLK essay scholarship. Following is my interview with Melanie about her experience in participating in the contest:
Link to Melanie’s essay: https://studentaffairs.fiu.edu/get-involved/mlk-commemorative-celebration/_assets/melanierodriguez3rdplaceessaywinner2019
1. What motivated you to participate in this essay contest?
I participated in this contest because I am passionate about social justice. Furthermore, I have an interest in studying the interconnectivity of art and politics and the role it plays in society.
2. How did you decide on the topic for your essay?
The essay did have a specific topic that I had to write about, but I chose to include my knowledge about MLK Letter to a Birmingham jail.”
3. What is the main message that you want readers to understand after reading your essay?
I want my readers to realize from reading my essay that history is not forgotten and that we have to continue to improve as a society. I want people to understand that it is not only essential to co-exist, but it is vital that we know each other opinions and views and respect them.
4. What are some experiences that you had in your life they made you want to stand up for your beliefs?
My whole life I have always been motivated to stand up for my beliefs. I am the first generation to be born in America, and that means a lot to me because my parents were Cuban refugees. My parents had to leave Cuba in order to freely stand up for what they believe in, and that makes me more appreciative of the liberties I have as an American citizen. I don’t take for granted having the freedom to speak my beliefs and standing up for what’s right. I know in other countries people don’t have the opportunity to have those rights.
5. How do you think you can further develop the legacy that MLK has left?
Dr. King strongly believe in nonviolent approaches to attain social justice. I feel like I can further develop the legacy by promoting conversation. It is essential not only to speak out about social issues during the month of January but also on an everyday basis.
6. Is there anything that you have done to make a change since writing the essay?
Yes, I continue to stay informed about the issues that are going on in the world. I do not rely on others for information I want to be able to form my own opinions on issues by viewing it myself. I take action by gaining knowledge on what is going on and then I write about the issues that are happening. I now write for the Make Muse magazine to give me a platform to contribute to making social change.
Link to the Make Muse Magazine:
MLA works cited:
Florida International University. “MLK Scholarships and Awards.” Student Clubs - Get Involved Student Affairs - Florida International University - FIU, https://studentaffairs.fiu.edu/get-involved/mlk-commemorative-celebration/peace-and-service-awards/index.php