When Shaykh Jibreel Speight gave the invocation at Chapman University’s inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Award Reception on Jan. 17, he noted it was also the birthday of another Black “fighter,” Muhammad Ali.
The event, which will be held annually the day after the federal holiday, recognizes a faculty member, a staff member and a student organization who are “keeping Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream alive.”
“It’s important because Martin Luther King’s words and what he lived by are still applicable today,” said Misty Levingston, Chapman’s director of Black excellence and achievement. “King served the community and these people also served the community.”
The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion chose the 2023 awardees – Associate Professor Quaylan Allen, Director of Institutional Research and Decision Support Marisol Arredondo Samson and the Latinx Club.
Going forward, honorees will be chosen through a nomination process.
“We’re hoping people are excited about it and they participate,” Levingston said. “This is a campus community event – we want everyone to be part of it.”
The Jan. 17 event at Fish Interfaith Center started with an invocation by Speight – director of Muslim life – and remarks by Levingston and Reg Chhen Stewart, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Stewart said there will be opportunities to continue the conversation about carrying out King’s legacy.
“When someone asks me, ‘What is Chapman doing?’ I typically reply, ‘What are you doing?’” said Stewart, who is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the same fraternity as Dr. King. “It’s the responsibility of all of us to improve the university we are so proud of.”
DEI staff members introduced each honoree with a quote from King.
Quaylan Allen, Ph.D. is an associate professor in Attallah College of Educational Studies and teaches in the Integrated Educational Studies Program. He studies educational equity, racial justice and improving educational and social outcomes for culturally diverse communities. He has worked at K-12 schools and community organizations. He is former director of Chapman’s first-generation student programs and founding director of the Africana Studies minor.
“I’m thankful to be honored but my honor is also a reflection of the larger collective goals of folks here at Chapman who are dedicated to making Chapman a better place,” he said.
Marisol Arredondo Samson, Ph.D. oversees institutional research and data-informed decision making at Chapman. She has served on committees, task forces and working groups related to data, reporting, accreditation, retention, diversity, campus climate, survey research and effectiveness of student services and programs. Her research has focused on first-generation college students, and she has worked to increase retention of first-generation students and students of color. She is a Promising Futures mentor and was president of the Latinx Staff and Faculty Forum.
“It’s wonderful and I’m really appreciative of this recognition – I’m very humbled and honored,” she said.
“It was definitely a pleasant surprise to get that award and have all our hard work recognized in the community we appreciate,” said club president Arleth Ulloa ’23.
Brittany Garcia ’23 said the award had extra meaning because many of the club’s leaders have been involved since their first year and are in their last term.
“We’re all servants to the people on campus,” said Nikki Duran ’23.