Award Winners Set to be Recognized at 23rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast

MLK art contest winner

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on December 20, 2019, No Comments

Photo: Kyrah Smith, a student at Pocono Mountain East High School won first place in this year’s Julianna V. Bolt art contest. She and other award winners from the community and from ESU will be honored during the 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast on January 20 at ESU.

East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania selected the winners for the 2020 Boddie Scholarship, Martin Luther King Jr. awards, and the Julianna V. Bolt Art Contest. The recipients will be recognized at the 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast, which will be held on January 20 in the Mattioli Recreation Center on ESU’s campus from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Boddie Scholarship Recipients

The Mary Gertrude Smith Boddie Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance to undergraduate students of color at ESU. In 1904, Ms. Boddie was the first African-American student to graduate from what was then known as East Stroudsburg State Normal School, which ultimately became East Stroudsburg University in 1983. The students who apply for this scholarship are asked to describe, in essay form, their commitment to social justice through community and university involvement.

The Mary Gertrude Smith Boddie Scholarship recipients are Annalise Cole, a junior majoring in political science from Tobyhanna, Pa.; Diamond Coleman, a sophomore majoring in psychology from Duryea, Pa.; and Denise Hicks, a junior majoring in nursing from Tobyhanna, Pa. The three students will each receive a $3,650 scholarship award for the spring 2020 semester.

Cole moved around a lot growing up. Through her transitions in different schools, states, and parts of the country she learned the world isn’t just black and white, and building relationships is an essential joy in life. She has committed herself to a life of helping others, in particular those affected by human trafficking. She wants to use her own life experiences to connect with people from other cultures.

Coleman left the only family she knew when she was four years old. She went to live with her aunt, who she calls her savior. After being bullied in elementary and middle school, Coleman found her place in high school when she became a student-athlete, participating in track, cross country, volleyball, and cheerleading. She believes life has taught her to be humble, that every person and every opportunity she has encountered have helped her to this place and to become the person she is now, and will continue to guide her toward the person she hopes to become.

Hicks, a non-traditional student, returned to school after raising two children. After completing an Associate of Science in Nursing from Northampton Community College, she came to ESU to continue her education and pursue a Bachelor of Science in nursing. Hicks felt she could not continue to tell her children to strive for their best when she wasn’t striving for her own best. She hopes to continue her education to become a nurse practitioner.

Martin Luther King Jr. Award Recipients

The Martin Luther King Jr. Award recipients exemplify characteristics of Dr. King’s philosophy of non-violence, equality, justice, cultural diversity and respect for humanity. Awards will be presented to two students, one staff member, and one member of the local community.

Brandon Teel, a junior majoring in sport management from Philadelphia, Pa., has been selected to receive one of the two Martin Luther King Jr. Student Awards. On campus, Teel is the finance chair of the Student Government Association, was president of the Black Student Union, and a resident advisor. As president of the Black Student Union, he has established new programs that bring speakers of color to campus and co-sponsored community initiatives that provide free meals to low-income families. As finance chair of the Student Government Association, Teel mentors student leaders through the financial process and is working with the Student Activity Association to find ways to support student organizations, including starting a grant program for newly recognized groups on campus. Teel always finds potential in new student leaders and makes sure to support their needs so they reach their full capacity.

He is also the vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Monroe Youth Council Branch. In this role, he works with local high schools to help train students to become community leaders.

The second student award will be given to Kenya Thompson, a senior majoring in communication from Philadelphia, Pa. Thompson is a Campus Rec and Wellness manager, and is a member of the Athletic Department’s event staff. She has also worked in the office of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Assessment, and was a Warrior Mentor. Thompson is a member of Krimson Kourts Incorporated, National Council of Negro Women, and WESS Radio. She has volunteered at campus and community events including Pick Up the Poconos, Walk of the Warrior, the Lupus Walk, Special Olympics, Send Silence Packing, the MLK Celebration Breakfast, the Boys and Girls Club, and as an usher for the theatre department, among many others.

Thompson is known for taking the lead in conversations about cultural diversity and enjoys having hard conversations that allow her and her peers to grow and learn.

The University Faculty/Staff Award recipient is LyEsha Fleming, who has been resident director since 2015. She also serves as coordinator in the Center for Multicultural Affairs & Inclusive Education. Fleming is motivated to advance the interest, development, and safety of the students at ESU. Students often reach out to her for guidance and mentorship as they navigate their college experience. Her commitment to student success and holistic learning has driven her to implement educational programs that serve to widen general knowledge on issues that affect the entire community. Fleming is devoted to promoting diversity and equality for all members of the ESU community. She is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service committee, and is the chair of the Family Weekend planning committee. She also works on other university-wide programs that serve to aid in retention of students.

Because of her insightful ideas, respectful attitude, and willingness to take on additional responsibilities, Fleming is highly sought after to collaborate on projects by other members of the campus community. Her compassionate spirit has been the governing influence in her decisions to help and support others.

Ken Gustafson is the recipient of the Community Member Award. Since his retirement from Mars, Inc. six years ago, Gustafson has devoted his time, energy, and talents to collaborating with community organizations that serve the well-being of children and families in the Pocono Mountains. His volunteer work includes Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge, educating the community of its work by facilitating mentoring and training programs; Monroe County Children and Youth; the Children’s Roundtable of Monroe County; Nurse Family Partnerships; Youth Employment Services; Monroe County United; Opiate Task Force of Monroe County; and the MLK Celebrations Breakfast planning committee.

Gustafson has been awarded the 2019 Liberty Bell Award by the Monroe County Bar Association as someone “who has promoted better understanding of the rule of law encouraged greater respect for the law and courts and stimulated sense of civic responsibility.” He was presented the 2018 Community Volunteer of the Year Award by the Monroe County Children’s Roundtable, an organization that works to reduce child delinquency and dependency in the county and to ensure county children are safely nurtured in healthy permanent homes.

Julianna V. Bolt Art Contest

There were 52 entries to the Julianna V. Bolt art contest this year. Entries came from East Stroudsburg High School North, Evergreen Community Charter School, Pocono Mountain High School East, Pocono Mountains High School West, and Stroudsburg High School. Kyrah Smith from Pocono Mountain East High School won first place, Maxine Mendia from Pocono Mountain East High School earned second place, and Christina Broadwater from Pocono Mountain East High School was awarded third place. King Rugabandana from Stroudsburg High School and Hannah Jones from Pocono Mountain East High School were awarded honorable mention.

For more information about the Celebration Breakfast or for special accommodations, contact Cornelia Sewell-Allen, D.Ed., assistant vice president for inclusive excellence at 570-422-4017 or email, or Emily Brennan, special events coordinator, at 570-422-3156, or email