Spirit of King Award Winners Strive to Develop a Multicultural Campus Community

Posted: February 5, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

To celebrate Black History Month and commemorate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Mason held several events last week, including one in which a faculty member and a student were honored with the Spirit of King award.

The award recognizes individuals who best personify the essence of King’s vision through their efforts in the development of a multicultural campus community.

Rebecca Walter, a staff member in the Multicultural Research and Resource Center and part-time faculty member in the Department of Communication, was awarded the faculty/staff Spirit of King award. She has been at Mason since 1995 and has endeavored to increase intercultural understanding on campus in a variety of ways.

As a faculty member in the Department of Communication, Walter established a partnership with the Multicultural Research and Resource Center to integrate prejudice reduction workshops in all sections of COMM 101 in the spring 2007.

As associate director of the Women’s Studies Research and Resource Center, she helped make a campuswide shift from violence as a women’s issue to violence as a community issue. This program allowed the center to reach out to local organizations and corporations that support programming related to domestic violence and antibullying.

In addition, Walter helped establish an antiracism/white privilege program that was designed to support ongoing work related to diversity on campus and serve as a catalyst for more work on privilege.

“For me, this award isn’t about the amount of tasks I do or how efficient I am,” says Walter. “It represents the level of care and commitment I have to my work and my unit now and in the future.”

Kwashie Vodi, a junior economics major, was awarded the student Spirit of King award. He received a book award for $350 from the Black Alumni Chapter. Originally from Ghana, West Africa, Vodi currently lives in Prince George’s County, Md.

Vodi was nominated by his mentor and fraternity brother and is involved in numerous campus activities. He serves as treasurer of the Iota Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., governor of the Student Funding Board, president of the African Student Association and event manager for Johnson Center Student Union Operations.

He has also helped host a culture exposition during Knowledge of Africa Week, visited homeless shelters and participated in highway cleanups and the AIDS Walk on Washington.

“I’m the type of person who would rather do the behind-the-scenes work, which is why I enjoy being part of the Student Funding Board and helping organizations fund their programming,” says Vodi. “I feel very honored to receive this award because I’m sure there are others who have done more than I have.”

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