Missouri Western’s Center for Multicultural Education commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with awarding several members of the St. Joseph community with the MLK Drum Major for Justice Award Ceremony on January 20, 2021
The University recognized four individuals whose work in the area influenced their fellow classmates and faculty members and community members.
Missouri Western commemorated the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King with a ceremony, giving the award in three separate categories—Missouri Western student, and Missouri Western faculty member, and a St. Joseph community member. Additionally, Stephen Robbs was awarded.
The ceremony began with a welcome from Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Dr. Hannah Piechowski, who spoke about the origin of the award.
This award, whose namesake derived from Reverend Dr. King’s speech “The Drum Major Instinct,” was awarded to several individuals whose actions promoted equality in the city of St. Joseph.
Faculty member Roberta Foster, an admissions counselor at the University, was nominated and won.
“Roberta has helped so many diverse families from diverse backgrounds who have diverse needs,” her nominator, Reyna Foster, said.
She has supported multiple students for the past five years, connecting with their families and high school faculty. She mentors and motivates students to ensure they have a successful run at Missouri Western.
“Each day I strive to serve students with gladness,” Foster said. “I choose to serve them with a cheerful heart.”
Along with being an admissions counselor, Foster has also worked as a special education teacher, a pre-school education coordinator and a parent educator in the Greater St. Joseph area.
The nomination for the student award was given to Tiera Dodson-Moore.
Dodson-Moore is involved with Alpha Kappa Psi as a member of the executive board and is an artist whose work is influenced by the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“One of my favorite projects Tiera has completed is the photography series involving Missouri Western students,” her nominator said.
Dodson-Moore took two photos of several Missouri Western students—one photo of the student smiling and the other photo of the student covering their face with their hands. She then overlaid the two photos, showing a beautiful smile behind the shield that the hands created.
“I thought that these pieces showed such a great metaphor for what these students have to go through,” her nominator said. “They are a beautiful way to show diversity and its importance.”
Additionally, Dodson-Moore has created a Black Lives Matter coloring book and donated a portion of the proceedings to the Movement
‘I’m very glad that my artwork has been able to put forth messages that can be harder to put forth from the word of mouth,” Dodson-Moore said.
Leameana Margeret Davis was the St. Joseph Community Member who was given the award.
Davis has volunteered at MidCity Excellence Community Learning Center for the past three years, amassing hundreds of hours of experience with the faculty and community members at the Center.
“We could not set up this computer lab, do our attendance, tabulate all the kids that come to this program without her,” her nominator, Kimberly Warren, said.
The Center provides a number of processes, including aid with counseling, mentoring, spiritual guidance and tutoring. They also provide life skills training and multiple health and wellness programs that are not only available for individuals, but for entire families.
“I am one person in a sea of people trying to change the narrative in our community” Davis said. “Thank you so much for this wonderful honor.”
Additional nominees for the award included Dr. Evan Hart, Loes Hedge and Ellen Kisker.
The Center for Multicultural Education also paid tribute to the late Stephen Robbs. Robbs was a Missouri Western alumnus, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.
“Stephen worked diligently to uplift and enhance equality among the vulnerable and oppressed individuals,” Dr. Pam Clary, an Associate Professor of Social Work, said.
Robbs was an active member on campus, participating in many clubs and events, including the Walk for the Homeless committee, a committee he continued to serve on after graduating. Robbs is the only two-time winner of the Geri Dickey for Social Justice Award.
“You were the friend that brought a light so great to this world that shone onto everyone,” Robbs’s fellow classmate Amy Crawford said. “Your light will continue to shine in the footprints that you’ve left behind.”
As well as being active as a student in college, Robbs was an active community member who owned multiple businesses in the city and continued advocating for the homeless after graduation.