March 01, 2019
This year’s A.L.A.N.A. Awards event highlighted the title of a speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. just days before his assassination in 1968, “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.”
On Wednesday, February 27 the A.L.A.N.A. organization awarded students for their contributions and commitment to diversity, justice and equality on campus and in their lives. President Mooney welcomed guests saying, “These students represent the best of the University and of their generation. They have a deep and abiding commitment to social justice and improving our own community on every level. Thank you for staying awake through this great revolution!”.
Derek Scalia, Associate Director of Student Involvement and Director of A.L.A.N.A. Diversity Program, further reflected on the work of the recipients. “The work of justice is not always found in the State House or in Congress. Sometimes it walks in the darkness, in the light of hope for those who feel alone. It may feel as though the odds are against you, but those who walk the journey mean everything. I am in awe of who you are and what you have done. You are a breath of fresh air.”
Those who received awards included two students who work in Connecticut on behalf of the homeless: Chris Charles ’20, who works in a New Haven warming center for the homeless, and Kobe Givens ’21, who advocates to end homelessness in Hartford. Natalie Hamilton ’19, a passionate advocate for the A.L.A.N.A. program who strives to foster inclusion on campus, was also recognized. Her hope for the future is to end the privatization of education because she believes education is a right not a privilege.
One of the Distinguished Award recipients was Alisha Saint-Ciel ’19, who was recognized for her outstanding all-around commitment to justice and activism on and off campus. In her speech, she recalled that when she was a young girl, she was not able to find anyone in the media who looked like her. She wants to be that somebody for all girls, no matter their skin color, hair or body shape.
The evening ended with a slide show of images of activism since 1968. Although King is not alive to see the progress in America today, he would be encouraged by the efforts of so many. The slide show was an emotional reminder of how much work is still left to be done.
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