WJZ-TV anchor Vic Carter set the standard and award winners Hera Hashmi and Vanessa Fahie, PhD, RN, lived up to it as the University of Maryland, Baltimore celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month at a campus event Feb. 4.
"In Baltimore, we all know Vic Carter," University President Jay A. Perman, MD, said in introducing the familiar journalist, who has been part of "Eyewitness News" since 1995. But Carter showed a different side of himself than seen on TV.
He spoke of being a teenager in Radford, Va., and being cut with a carpet knife by a young white man who mistook him for someone who had dated his sister. He spoke of his early years in TV in Atlanta, where he met the likes of Coretta Scott King and Andrew Young and wrote a book on the civil rights movement. He spoke of his four years of "volunteer" public relations work for a memorial to Dr. King in Washington, D.C. - a four-acre, $120 million undertaking that will be unveiled this August.
"Civil rights and the work of Dr. King is an intensely personal thing with me. I have an investment," Carter told hundreds of attendees in the Medical School Teaching Facility auditorium. "But it can't be for one hour, or one day or one month a year. If we are to truly honor Dr. King, it has to be a lifelong commitment."
UMB MLK Jr. Remembrance 2011 from UMB news on Vimeo.
The University then honored a student and a faculty member who have done just that with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Awards.
Hashmi, a third-year School of Law student of Pakistani descent who was born in Saudi Arabia, personally experienced anti-Muslim bias in Europe. As she saw such sentiment spreading into this country, Hashmi decided to push back as best she could.
Hashmi spent several months - beginning in summer of 2010 - organizing the timely conference at the law school titled "Confronting Islam: Shari'ah, the Constitution, and American Muslims." She recruited panelists from as far as California, arranged their travel, and designed the program for the Nov. 5 conference, which drew 150 people interested in learning more than the stereotypes of Muslims and of Islamic law.
"I hoped this symposium would alleviate the tension, fear, and misunderstandings about American Muslims that surrounded events like the protests against building mosques and the proposed Quran burning," Hashmi said before the ceremony. "I am grateful to the journal team, professors, panelists, and everyone who worked so hard to make this symposium successful."
Fahie saw that educationally and environmentally disadvantaged students weren't getting opportunities to pursue careers in health care. During her 16 years at the School of Nursing, where she is an assistant professor, Fahie developed 21 programs - and collected more than $3 million in grants - targeting disadvantaged middle, high school, and undergraduate nursing students in Baltimore City, and Baltimore, Prince George's, Somerset, and Wicomico counties.
"The initial project, the Bridge Program, a collaborative project with Coppin State and Towson universities, focused on increasing retention, graduation, and NCLEX-RN [National Council Licensure Examination] pass rates and transitioning BSN students to graduate nursing programs," said Fahie.
In one program at Morgan State University, Fahie put together a weekend college-readiness program for high school sophomores. As part of the Adventures in Science Program, for 16 years she has devoted eight Saturdays every fall and spring to helping city youths between 8 and 15 explore scientific topics. Other programs are aimed at helping parents get their children ready to succeed.
When Fahie began her work with the Maryland State Department of Education, less than 10 percent of the high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds were enrolled in college preparatory courses. Now 50 percent take such courses and 80 percent are applying to college.
Perman said of Fahie, "She's been serving as a role model and mentor throughout her career."
The diversity recognition awards represent equality, justice, and opportunity for all people. The recipients exude the ideals epitomized by the life and work of Dr. King.
Added Hashmi, "I have grown up admiring the incredible work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and value his struggles and sacrifices. I am extremely honored to receive this award in his name and hope I can live up to its esteem."
Award winners Vanessa Fahie, PhD, and Hera Hashmi.
Richard Zhu, a medical student, performed two musical selections on violin at the event, which had been postponed on Feb. 1 due to inclement weather. Originally students from George Washington Elementary School were scheduled to perform.
Written by Chris Zang and Jeffrey Raymond