ESU’s 17th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast Scheduled; Award Winners Announced and Honored

Posted by: Valentina Caval on January 17, 2014, No Comments

The recipients of the East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards and the Gertrude Mary Smith Boddie Scholarships and the winners of the Julianna V. Bolt Art Contest will be among those honored at the 17th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast on Monday, January 20. Hosted by ESU, the breakfast, which attracts about 200 guests from ESU and local communities, will feature keynote speaker Rev. James Jackson, Ph.D., the senior pastor of the Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church of Harrisburg, Pa., an associate professor in the department of psychology at Kutztown University and an adjunct professor at Wesco Evening College at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. 

Gertrude Mary Smith Boddie Scholarships

Gertrude Mary Smith Boddie Scholarships, awarded in honor of the first student of color to graduate from what today is East Stroudsburg University, will be announced and awarded at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast. The recipients are: Brittany R. Washington, a junior from Summitville, N.Y., majoring in biology, and Tambria Lee, a junior from Bristol, Pa., majoring in communication studies with a concentration in public relations. The scholarships were each $2,890.

Washington, having developed a severe sinus infection at the age of 7, needed to have a craniotomy during which the front portion of her skull was replaced with surgical clay. The challenges the surgery presented Washington with provided her with a calling toward philanthropic work, which she hopes one day will help her become an orthopedic nurse. She is an orientation leader, a resident adviser in Linden Hall and a student ambassador in the Warrior Elite program, responsibilities that have allowed her to expand her knowledge about many aspects of life, including hard work and dedication, treating everyone equally and respectfully and understanding cultural diversity and justice.

“Brittany is respected and well-liked by her students, her fellow resident advisers and her supervisors,” said director of residence life and housing Bob Moses, who has known Washington for the past two years. “She is constantly smiling and goes out of her way to help others.”

Lee has dedicated her time at ESU to volunteering, especially with the L.G.B.T.Q.A community via the P.R.I.D.E. organization, and with the Feminist Alliance, for which she has been an advocate for equal rights and the education of gender issues.  She is also a member of the African-American Student Alliance, ESU Step Team, Voices of Triumph Gospel Choir, Christian Fellowship and Council for Exceptional Children. When she’s not been busy volunteering for groups such as the Special Olympics, The Buddy Walk or Women’s Resources of Monroe County, she has worked as a Race Relations Facilitator for the Race Relations Project in addition to serving as an Orientation Leader.

“I promote ending the silence for victims of abuse – physical, mental, sexual and verbal,” Lee said. “Because of my personal experiences with the negative effects of domestic violence, I have vowed to dedicate a major portion of my time and life to helping women, men and children who are not as fortunate as my mother and me, who were able to lean on each other to escape a bad situation.”

Qualifying criteria for the Boddie scholarship include: a minimum grade point average of 2.5; enrollment as a full-time sophomore (30 semester hour credits completed) at the time of application; and demonstration of financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and verified by the office of student financial aid. Scholarship applicants also must write an essay of 250 words describing their dedication to Dr. King’s philosophy and demonstrate a commitment to social justice through evidence of community and/or university involvement. Proceeds from the MLK celebration breakfast make this scholarship possible. The ESU judges for this year’s scholarship award were Joyce L. Simpson, Ed.D., professor emeritus of speech pathology and audiology, and Neal H. Simpson,  professor emeritus of academic enrichment and learning.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award Recipients

Aalih Hussein, a junior from East Stroudsburg, Pa., with a dual major in social work and sociology and a minor in women’s studies, and Jeter Smith, a resident director and assistant coordinator of student conduct at ESU, are the university recipients of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award. William J. Parrish, Stroud Area Regional chief of police, will receive the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award that is presented to a community member. The criteria for the award include, among other qualities, demonstrated espousal of the principles of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., such as leadership, courage and service to the community.

Hussein is a member of the Student Senate, for which she has helped host charitable events, including ESU’s Teddy Bear Drive, and volunteers for such groups as the Muslim Student Association and the ESU Women’s Center, for which she is a work-study student. The Women’s Center houses V.O.I.C.E (Victims’ Options In Campus Environments), which is operated in conjunction with Women’s Resources of Monroe County and provides resources and support for victims of relationship violence.

Hussein helped organize ESU students’ attendance at a candlelight vigil this fall at the Monroe County Courthouse for victims and survivors of domestic violence, something she’s very proud of.

“It’s empowering for the survivors and it’s inspirational to those who want to show their support to end domestic violence,” Hussein said.

 Hussein is secretary of the Desi Student Organization, which annually puts together Diwali: Festival of Lights. The South Asian festival attracts about 200 people for a full vegetarian meal and traditional dances.  In addition she is the president of ESU’s Feminist Alliance.  This past semester, Hussein worked with the ESU Office of Student Affairs in its launch of the Meditation Center in a former faculty lounge in the Gessner building. The Meditation Center, open to people of all faiths, has been a gathering place for Muslim students, whose religion requires them to pray five times a day. In addition, Hussein joined fellow student Matthew Copeland in designing and painting a mural of a sunset on a wall of the center to make the area more welcoming.

Smith has been a resident director at ESU since August of 2008 and an assistant coordinator of student conduct since October of 2009. In addition, he is the adviser for the Residence Hall Association, chairs the Residence Life Diversity Committee, guides students with their career choices, serves as a mediator regarding roommate conflicts, aids in the resolution of financial concerns and helps students with stress reduction, which includes encouraging them to achieve through philosophy and self-governance.

Smith’s supervisory duties as a resident director include overseeing seven resident advisers and 12 desk receptionists. Linden Hall, which Smith manages, is home to 270 first-year and upper-class students.

As an assistant coordinator of student conduct, Smith created an action plan for the Violence Against Women Act grant program. He serves as a hearing officer during informal hearings and is an administrative hearing officer representing the university during formal hearings. In addition, Smith conducts investigations of off-campus violations of law and takes part in investigations of on-campus student code of conduct violations as directed by the assistant vice president for student affairs.

Smith has been on several search committees, including having chaired the police officer supervisor search. In 2012, Smith produced the play, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf.”

After spending six years as a military police officer in the U.S. Army, Parrish became a Stroudsburg Borough Patrol Officer in 1982 before being hired as a patrol officer in Stroud Township in 1989. Three years later, he was promoted to detective. In 2000, when Stroudsburg Borough, East Stroudsburg Borough and Stroud Township merged to form the Stroud Area Regional Police Department, Parrish, a Stroudsburg High graduate, continued as detective for SARPD. Four years later, he earned a promotion and was named captain. In 2012, he became chief of police. In addition, Parrish graduated from the FBI National Academy, a 10-week, University of Virginia Accredited Police Executive/Leadership Program at FBI Headquarters in Quantico, Va.

Parrish’s list of volunteer work is extensive. He’s chairman of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge Advisory Board, is part of the East Stroudsburg University Campus-Community Coalition and is a member of the YMCA and Monroe County Children and Youth Services Advisory Boards. Parrish also sits on the Monroe County Crisis Intervention Team Development Committee, the Monroe County Criminal Justice Advisory Board and the Monroe County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force Coordinating Team.

“I feel that my position as Chief of Police allows more flexibility to assist in these areas where others might not be able to,” Parrish said. “It is the police department’s responsibility to protect and serve the whole community.”

Judges for this year’s awards were Vinny Bianchi, senior marketing consultant of Connoisseur Media; Danelle McClanahan, ESU director of diversity/ombudsperson; and Robert Moses, ESU director of residence life and housing.

Julianna V. Bolt Art Contest Awards

In addition to the presentation of the Gertrude Mary Smith Boddie Scholarship winners and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards, Julianna V. Bolt Art Contest Awards will be presented to local high school students for their submissions. The award was named after the late Julianna V. Bolt, an ESU accounting assistant from 1994-96 and longtime friend of the university. Forty-two contest entries were received from students representing East Stroudsburg South, PleasantValley, Pocono Mountain East, Pocono Mountain West and Stroudsburg high schools this year.

The winners of this year’s contest are: first place, Christina Balog, East Stroudsburg High School South (teacher, Stephanie McIlvaine); second place, Leonardo Flores, StroudsburgHigh School (teacher, Leah McKain); and, third place, Catherine Stagliane, Stroudsburg High School (teacher, McKain). Honorable mention winners are: Emily Taylor, StroudsburgHigh School (teacher, McKain) and Kristen Eberhardt, Pleasant Valley High School (teacher, George Boudman). This year’s art contest judges were Pat Lincoln, Connoisseur Media and WSBG 93.5 general manager; Wayne Bolt, husband of the late Julianna V. Bolt;  Joni Oye-Benintende, associate professor and acting chair of ESU’s art department; Darlene Farris-LaBar, associate professor in ESU’s art department; Feno S. Volpe, ESU professor emeritus/local artist; and Danelle McClanahan, director of diversity at ESU.

Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker for this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast is Rev. James Jackson, Ph.D., the senior pastor of the Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church of Harrisburg, Pa., an associate professor in the department of psychology at KutztownUniversity and an adjunct professor at WescoEveningCollege at MuhlenbergCollege in Allentown, Pa. 

In the keynote address, Jackson will talk about the many possibilities Americans have and how those possibilities can lead to greatness. Out of those possibilities come opportunities to do great things, and with the opportunities afforded to us, dreams are developed. Those dreams ultimately foster hope and take us right back to Dr. King’s vision of faith being the first step.

Jackson is a member of the Central Baptist Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Baptist Convention (PBSC), for which he serves as vice president of the Central Region of the PBSC Clergy Ministry.  He received his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. He did his graduate work at the University of Kansas where he received his master’s and Ph.D. in cognitive experimental psychology with a concentration in gerontology. He is currently pursuing a master’s of theological studies at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pa.

For more information about the celebration breakfast or the Gertrude Mary Smith Boddie Scholarship, please contact Cornelia Sewell-Allen, director of multicultural affairs at 570-422-3896 or