By Jeff Murphy, January 20, 2023
Recipients of 2023 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Scholarships, from front left,
Michaela Hines, Alexis King, Alex Green and Julia Peters, were recognized during
the Scholarship Fundraiser Jan. 17 at the University of Central Missouri. Making the
formal presentations were UCM members Dr. Lover Chancler, right front, director of
the Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity; Dr. Phil Bridgmon, back row, left,
provost and vice president for academic affairs; and Dr. Roger Best, president.
WARRENSBURG, MO – A highlight to a program that included artistic expression in the
form of dance, live drawing, music and a shared presentation of Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, four University of Central Missouri students
were honored with scholarships named for the famous civil rights leader and humanitarian.
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Scholarship Fundraiser took place on Jan.
17 in the ballroom of the Elliott Student Union.
This year’s scholarship program was part of a celebration that took place as the nation observes the 60-year anniversary of the historic march led by Dr. King on Washington, D.C., in 1963. Consistent with the theme of this year’s event, “Living the Dream and Still Marching,” the evening included several examples of creative expressions provided by UCM students and other individuals and groups from the Warrensburg community.
Dr. Lover Chancler, director of UCM’s Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity, made the Freedom Scholarship presentations to university students from Missouri, Alex Green, Lee’s Summit; Michaela Hines, Grandview; Alexis King, Lee’s Summit; and Julia Peters, Washington. Prior to introducing students, Chancler recognized the founders of the scholarship program who established this initiative in 1994 at was then known as Central Missouri State University. The names of these individuals who were members of the Association of African American Faculty and Staff were shared on a large screen just above the stage.
“We thank them for their vision, persistence, and generosity which have made the continued presentation of these scholarships possible,” Chancler told the audience.
Chancler’s introductions of the 2023 Freedom Scholarship recipients included biographical information and comments she read from each student about the scholarship program and what it means to receive the the award. Honorees were individually congratulated on stage by UCM President Roger Best, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Phil Bridgmon, and Dr. Chancler.
The first award recipient, Alex Green, is a sophomore majoring in Education with an interest in middle school social studies. The Lee’s Summit West High School graduate said he chose to attend UCM because of its strong teaching and history programs.
“We must find a way to teach our youth to understand that everyone matters, that we can have differing opinions and still work towards the common good, and that we must treat each other with kindness and respect as equals. I believe we can get there,” Green stated.
Green's goal is to become a middle school social studies teacher, where he can help students learn how they can make a difference. He said the scholarship will help him to complete his higher education and limit the amount of debt he incurs as a university student.
Michaela Hines is a sophomore Criminal Justice major who is also pursuing minors in Legal Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.
“I have been passionate about the criminal justice field since I was in high school. I also have an interest in law and hope to eventually attend law school,” she noted. “I am the eldest of my parents’ children and considered to be first generation. Not many people in my extended family outside of my household have gone on to or finished college, and I want to be able to set the standard for not only myself, but for my siblings and cousins.”
Hines noted that working and attending college can be challenging, and can create worry for students who are concerned about how they are going to pay for their education. She expressed her appreciation for the award, adding, “This scholarship will help give me peace of mind and hope that anyone is capable as long as they set their mind in the right place.”
Alexis King is a UCM senior majoring in Computer Science with a focus on software development. She is also seeking a minor in International Studies.
“While at UCM I was able to feed my curiosity while studying abroad in Spain," King noted. "During that time I experienced both hardships and self-discovery. It was an amazing experience that wouldn’t be possible without UCM’s great opportunities, just like this great opportunity of receiving the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Scholarship.”
King added, “My goals cannot be contained into one dream, just as Martin’s (Dr. King) dream cannot be stopped because it is still being fulfilled.”
This financial award will help King pay for textbooks and other educational expenses as she continues to pursue her dream for earning a UCM degree.
Julia Peters is a junior at UCM with dual majors in Economics and Event Marketing and Management. She stated that she is “truly honored to have been selected as a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Scholarship,” and grateful to be attending UCM. She said Warrensburg reminds her of home and is “grateful for the experiences I’ve had here so far.”
“I have always loved learning, so during the school year, I tend to keep myself super busy with studying and homework, but my favorite way to spend my free time is with friends and family. I really enjoy meeting new people and getting to hear about experiences/perspectives that are different from my own.”
Being part of a university with more than 11,500 students from many parts of the globe no doubt opens up a lot of new doors for Peters as she seeks to learn more about other people and their cultures.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Scholarship are awarded through the UCM Alumni Foundation. Individuals who have questions about the Freedom Scholarship program or other MLK celebration events are encouraged to contact Dr. Chancler at 660-543-8049 email@example.com.