At the 2019 MLK Unity Breakfast, held on MLK Day, Jan. 21, UW Tacoma and its Black Student Union presented Dream Awards to three individuals and one organization whose work significantly contributes to Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of equality for all.
Legacy Dream Award
This year’s Legacy Dream Award honoree is Dr. Rosa Franklin.
Dr. Franklin is a nurse, a community activist and a legislator. She was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1991, serving from the 29th district in Tacoma until 1993, when she won election to the state Senate, again in the 29th district, the first African American woman to serve in that chamber.
Even before her election, she was an advocate for the establishment of public higher education in the South Sound, pushing for the opening of a campus of the University of Washington in Tacoma. Her own experience as a student and then a nurse informed her strong support while in the legislature for the establishment and growth of the Nursing Program at UW Tacoma.
Her many other accomplishments while in the state legislature include support for the creation of the Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities, the passage of the Washington Housing Policy Act, environmental equity and anti-discrimination laws.
Dr. Franklin is an alumna of both the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University, and received an honorary doctorate degree from UPS. She was inducted into the Washington State Nurses Association Hall of Fame in 2002, and received the inaugural Senator Rosa Franklin award from the Foundation for Healthy Generations.
Student Dream Award
One of two Student Dream Award honorees is Theo Calhoun.
Calhoun, who is a senior studying ethnic, gender and labor studies, is a volunteer in UW Tacoma’s Center for Equity & Inclusion and at Tacoma’s Oasis Youth Center. In 2017 Calhoun was featured in a story in The News Tribune advocating for a proposal by the Washington Department of Health to add a third box on birth certificates allowing a non-binary gender designation. Calhoun was recognized by the City of Tacoma and the Rainbow Center with a Sapphire Youth Award in 2017, honoring service to the LGBTQ youth community of Pierce County.
Student Dream Award
The other Student Dream Award honoree is Sierra Jones.
Jones is a senior studying communications with minors in education; law and policy; and global engagement, and is a part of the campus-wide Global Honors program. A first-generation college student, she plans to pursue a career in educational policy after completing law school.
Jones is a mentor for the United Negro College Fund Portfolio Project, a collaborative effort to increase the number of minority and low-income college and scholarship applicants. She was the program assistant for UW Tacoma’s ACCESS in STEM Scholars Program during its inaugural year, and now serves as the School of Education senator for the Associated Students of UW Tacoma. She is one of eight Dressel Scholars for the 2018-19 academic year, a program, named for former Columbia Bank CEO Melanie Dressel, that provides financial support, mentorship, and educational and community engagement.
Organization Dream Award
The Organization Dream Award honoree is the UW Tacoma Pantry.
The Pantry opened in 2015 with a mission to provide support to students facing food insecurity. Its mission is “to provide supplemental, nutritional and culturally relevant food and hygiene items to UW Tacoma students with compassion, dignity and respect.” The Pantry works closely with Nourish Pierce County (formerly Fish Food Banks), and also accepts donations from campus and community members.
Three student staffers oversee operations and keep the doors open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. If a student cannot come by in person, The Pantry offers an online ordering form and alternative pick-up options.
In its first year of operations, 870 visits were recorded. In 2017-18 there were 2,000 visits, and the usage has continued to increase in the 2018-19 academic year. Given the impact that food security can have on the likelihood that a student will complete a college degree, the Pantry’s services are making a vital difference for many.
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org