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KOD PHOTOS

Keeper of the Dream

2016
Recipients
Christina Root
Christina Root

Autoliv North America
Keeper of the Dream Scholarship

When extolling the virtues of multiculturalism, Christina Root often shares stories from her experiences in OU’s International Allies Organization (IAO). The group pairs domestic students with those who are new to Oakland University and the United States. Early in her IAO experience, Root was paired with a 30-year-old student from Saudi Arabia, who was not only coping with the challenges of a new country, but also facing pregnancy. At first, Root felt nervous about her ability to connect with the woman, but says those feelings soon gave way to a life-changing friendship.

“We connected so well, to the point when I brought her a gift for her newborn daughter in the hospital, she said that I felt like a sister to her,” Root says. “This moment proves that differences should not result in fears deep enough to discourage interracial and multicultural experiences.”

Root currently serves as president of IAO, a role in which she is responsible for bringing together more than 60 students to promote friendship and multiculturalism on campus. She also works in OU’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) and is a resident of the International Village, a campus community made up of international and domestic students.

“Christina is a natural leader. Her unselfishness and willingness to help and give 110 percent in every task is remarkable,” says ISSO assistant director Petra Knoche.

A social work major and member of OU’s Honors College, Root carries a 3.85 GPA and routinely participates in learning opportunities outside the classroom. A meeting with State Representative Stephanie Cheng helped Root discover her interest in public policy. Root was among several OU students who traveled to Lansing last November for the National Association of Social Workers Legislative Education and Advocacy Day to learn about issues in social justice, advocacy and policy.

In the midst of learning about ideals of social justice, Root has worked to achieve them by volunteering with Freedom House in Detroit, a nonprofit organization that provides resources and support to area refugees. She has also volunteered at HOPE Hospitality and Warming Center in Pontiac and participated in OU’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

“As a student leader and future professional, I will continue to encourage interracial understandings, raise my level of cultural competence and advocate for diverse racial groups to contribute to the removal of cultural barriers,” she says.

Carlie Austin
Carlie Austin

Beaumont Health
Keeper of the Dream Scholarship
OU nursing student Carlie Austin believes that all human beings are empowered to shape their own destiny and that action is the key to removing barriers to human progress. Through her life experiences and leadership roles – both on campus and in the community – Austin has reached out to others and taken positive steps toward turning her hopeful vision into reality.

“I became active so I could give my culture a voice, to always represent us positively, and to show others that neither our voices, nor our presence, can ever be washed out,” Austin says. “I wanted to be a reflection of what we could set our minds to as black youth.”

Austin has made her voice heard through her involvement in OU’s Student Nurses Association, National Black Nurses Association chapter and School of Nursing Dean’s Circle. Her thoughtful contributions caught the eye of School of Nursing Interim Dean Gary Moore, who praised her willingness to take a bold approach to diversity issues.

“She showed courage by refusing to simply go along with traditional discussions concerning oppression, but instead urged members of the group to reach out to students of other racial, ethnic and religious minorities to educate themselves about the unique characteristics of each individual,” Dr. Moore says.

Austin has also excelled in the classroom, earning a 3.68 GPA and becoming the first black recipient of the School of Nursing’s prestigious Tekla Strom Ylvisaker Scholarship. The award covers full tuition for an undergraduate nursing student who demonstrates academic excellence and “a well-rounded life” through extracurricular activities and good citizenship. She is also a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society at OU.

In addition, Austin has improved the lives of others by volunteering at Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac, Coach Mac Organization Summer Day Camp in Highland Park and Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, among other organizations. She is also the creator of the Sister to Sista youth mentorship program at her church.

“Oppression is not our story, empowerment is,” she says. “Not only promoting this ideal, but living it, is how I keep the dream alive."

Tasha Tinglan
Tasha Tinglan

Oakland University Credit Union
Keeper of the Dream Scholarship
In many ways, Tasha Tinglan has turned her biggest challenges into her greatest assets. Growing up in Saginaw, Michigan, Tinglan faced struggles that fueled her desire to become an advocate for the underprivileged.

She is pursuing a degree in social work at OU, with a focus on child welfare. She has also taken on leadership roles in OU’s Center for Multicultural Initiatives (CMI) and University Housing that helped her contribute to diversity and inclusion on campus. As a resident assistant, Tinglan promotes a welcoming environment for people of all racial, cultural and social backgrounds.

“I strive to create an understanding, open-minded and judgment-free community for my residents,” she says. “When you are working with 43 students who have never lived with anyone other than their family, and they all have some sort of cultural or racial uniqueness, it is important to continuously educate them.”

Tinglan is also a member of the Social Responsibility Pillar in University Housing, which brings diversity-focused programming to campus residents.

Arthur Hampton, former coordinator of the CMI CORE program, is among those who have seen Tinglan develop into an effective leader.

“I could see her passion for advocacy grow as her understanding of class, race, privilege and culture grew from her experiences working with students,” says Hampton.

He adds that Tinglan’s life experiences – from her childhood struggles, to her academic growth and emergence as a student ambassador – were all “necessary in her development into an advocate for change.”

Residence Director Travis Gibler says Tinglan’s work reflects Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of building relationships to bring about positive change.

“Tasha works toward Dr. King’s Dream of modeling change, connecting with diverse individuals and educating others in everyday life,” Gibler says.

Myshia Liles-Moultrie
Myshia Liles-Moultrie

L&L McIntosh Scholarship Fund
Keeper of the Dream Scholarship
Through her experiences at Oakland University, Myshia Liles-Moultrie has learned to see the world through other people’s eyes. The social work major has drawn praise from peers and colleagues for her empathetic personality and strong commitment to principles of diversity, equity and inclusion.

According to Residence Director Gabe Dumbrille, Liles-Moultrie shows tremendous insight in helping promote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of inclusion and equal rights.

“All too often though, Dr. King’s message gets limited to a few varieties of diversity,” Dumbrille says. “Myshia has the perception to know that it stretches to every walk of life and every form of difference.”

Liles-Moultrie shares her knowledge and perspectives through her roles as a student assistant in OU’s Office of Multicultural Initiatives, a resident assistant in University Housing and a peer mentor in OU Pre-College Programs. She is also a member of the Social Responsibility Pillar in University Housing, which focuses on social justice and inclusion issues, and has taken part in many training opportunities offered through the Center for Multicultural Initiatives.

“The training we received allowed us to step into the shoes of an oppressed group and experience the discrimination they face,” Liles-Moultrie says. “That training helped me think about how everyone that I come into contact with has a history that has shaped them to be who they are.”

She has used her training to spur constructive dialogue on campus and be a mentor to her peers.

“When they had questions about why I do something a certain way or about my hair, I would talk to them about the cultural differences,” she says. “I made sure they had a safe place to come and talk to me about anything and made sure they knew that they would face no judgment from me.”

Residence Director Barbara Baker attests to her leadership ability in helping campus residents learn together.

“Myshia works hard to bring students on her floor together and form a community that forces students out of their comfort zones through programming and one-on-one conversations,” Baker says. “She brings to the table a quiet, but powerful leadership that is more impactful than I think she even realizes.”

Betira Shahollari

Betira Shahollari

Oakland University Alumni Association
Keeper of the Dream Scholarship

Betira Shahollari remembers the night she left her native Albania for the United States. She remembers the discomfort she felt as she tried to acclimate herself to new surroundings and deal with the struggles of being the “new girl” at school. She came from a different background, spoke a different language and dressed differently than her peers. While at first those differences were a source of tension, they eventually became a source of pride and kinship with others.

“With time, I learned to love who I was. I was proud of being different,” she says. “I wanted to make as many friends from different cultures as I could. I enjoyed learning about their experiences.”

To help bridge the divide between cultures, Shahollari became active with the Balkan American Community Center in Troy, Michigan. Her activities there have included serving as a program host, dance instructor and summer camp leader.

Bledi Uzuni, manager and event coordinator for the Balkan American Community Center, is quick to praise Shahollari’s intelligence and strong work ethic.

“I can say confidently that Betira has demonstrated exemplary community service and great leadership potential in all of her work with our organization,” Uzuni says. “She has been an active component in our efforts by carrying out her promises and dedicating time to go the extra mile and take her work to the highest level.”

Along with her community service efforts, Shahollari is equally dedicated to academics. She carries a 3.97 GPA as a finance major in the School of Business Administration and aspires to obtain an MBA. She is also a peer mentor for OU’s Center for Multicultural Initiatives, a committee member of the Student Program Board and a student representative on the Student Life Lecture Board.

“I do not want to see other people being judged because of who they are, where they are from or what the color of their skin is. I want to promote diversity and make everyone feel loved and accepted,” she says.
2016 Speaker
Levar Burton

LeVar BurtonLeVar Burton launched his acting career while still a student at the University of Southern California. Cast in the groundbreaking role of Kunta Kinte in the television series “Roots,” at 19 he found himself on the cover of Time Magazine.

A seemingly impossible act to follow, Burton managed to achieve further acclaim as Geordi La Forge in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” But he is most proud of his role as host and executive producer of the beloved PBS children’s series “Reading Rainbow.” Airing from 1983 to 2009, it was not only one of the longest-running children’s television shows in history but also one of the most acclaimed, earning more than 200 awards including multiple Emmys and a Peabody.

In 2012, Burton co-launched RRKidz, a digital educational publishing company. Reading Rainbow was reimagined as a digital reading service and is now the number one educational app on iTunes and recipient of numerous awards.

The honored recipient of 12 Emmy Awards, a Grammy and five NAACP Awards, Burton has demonstrated that he can do it all — act, direct, produce, write and speak. He now enters his fourth decade in the industry, with millions of fans throughout the world, and continues to inspire, entertain and educate.

2016
SPONSORS
SPEAKER SPONSORS

SCHOLARSHIP SPONSORS
Autoliv
Beaumont
OU Alumuni Assoc logo
OU Credit Union logo
L&L McIntosh Scholarship
UNITY SPONSORS
Avis Ford logo
Key Bank Foundation
ABOUT
KOD

2015 Keeper of the Dream Keynote Speaker Jurnee Smollett-Bell,
Award-winning actress and activist

The Keeper of the Dream Award was established in January 1993 to recognize Oakland University students who have contributed to interracial understanding and good will. 

  • Applicants must demonstrate academic achievement (a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 at time of application)
  • Have a clear career focus and academic persistence
  • Be returning to Oakland in the fall and winter semester of the following academic year

The Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Awards Celebration honors the legacy of the late civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and awards up to six scholarships to students that best demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities through their involvement on campus and in the community by breaking down racial and cultural stereotypes and by promoting unity among all people to foster a campus environment rich in diversity and multiculturalism.

It is also an opportunity to publicly recognize students who exemplify Dr. King’s vision, and to award them annual scholarships for their efforts in promoting interracial tolerance and understanding.

A steady increase in corporate contributions has made it possible to increase the initial level of awards from two $1,000 scholarships in 1993 to several $5,000 scholarships. Since its inception, over eighty students from a wide variety of academic majors have been awarded scholarships.

For more information about the award requirements, please contact the Center for Multicultural Initiatives.

PAST WINNERS
& PRESENTERS
YEAR
PRESENTER
AWARD RECIPIENTS
2016Levar Burton
Actor, director and author
Christina Root
Carlie Austin
Tasha Tinglan
Myshia Liles-Moultrie
Betira Shahollari
2015Jurnee Smollett-Bell
Award-winning actress and activist 
Joseph Kirma
Zienab Fahs
Chanel Daniels
Aukury Cowart
Taylor Moore 
2014Lee Daniels
Oscar-winning producer and director
Raya Hollis
Paul Marvin
Yen Tran
Daniel Lewis
La'Asia Johnson
2013Daymond John
Shark Tank star and entrepreneur
Steven Wynne
Charlie Lapastora
Bria Ellis
2012Common
Rapper, author, activist
Ben Eveslage
Subha Hanif
Tara Michener
2011Lou Gossett Jr.
Oscar-winning actor
Founder, Eracism Foundation
Emily Tissot
Gerald Son
Rodrina Moore
Aiana Scott
2010Susan L. Taylor
Editor Emeritus, Essence magazine
Founder, National Cares
Mentoring Movement
Chelsea Grimmer
Juquatta Brewer
Melissa DeGrandis
2009Danny Glover
Actor, producer, human rights activist
Norris Chase
Lisa Daily
Jasmine Rudolph
Relando Thompkins
2008Harry Belafonte
Human rights activist and entertainer
Latonia Garrett
Ronée Harvey
Denise Jones
Avery Neale
Yakela Roberson
Jinae Stoudemire
2007Ruby DeeSean Buono
Kwame Everett
Matthew Kelly
Aaron Kochenderfer
Brandon Svenson
Tiffanye Teagarden
2006Former Ambassador Andrew YoungNerissa Brown
Margaret DeGrandis
Kirbionne Fletcher
Michael Lerchenfeldt
2005Coretta Scott KingSheila L. Brooks
Andrew W. Gaines
Kathryn M. Miller
Jameelah M. Muhammad
Ashley K. Seal
2004Daniel G. Mulhern
First Gentleman of Michigan
Lenny Compton
George Davis III
Joi Durant
James Ellout
Sophia Soldana
2003Edsel B. Ford
Ford Motor Company
Crystal D. Allen
Steven D. Townsend
Crystal A. Wilkerson
Sumeera Younis
2002Martin Luther King III
President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Ashli C. Bobo
Rhonda R. Hanna
Joi C. Olden
Diana L. Pochmara

Special Recognition:
Erin Liebner
2001Harold Kutner
Vice-President, Worldwide Purchasing &
North American Operations
General Motors Corporation
Angel D. Guy
David Mackinder
Brian S. Jaye
Kimberly Lavan
Ann R. Lefkowitz
2000Robert N. Cooper
President, Ameritech Michigan
Annie O. Chung
Bonefacio F. De La Rosa
LaShanda P. Evans
Kristin J. Kouba
Razzaaq S. McConner
Aniesha K. Mitchell
Tamarcus D. Southward
Ralph E. Williams, II

Special Recognition:
Mychal C. Thom
1999Dave Bing
Chairman, The Bing Group
Jerry W. Autry, II
Adrienne D. Carter
Ronald L. Howell, Jr.
Shawn R. McLernon
Shaunda N. Scruggs
Natasha P. Vanover
1998Robert J. Eaton
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Chrysler Corporation
Delano Davis
Jermaine Evans
Lisa Gregg
Renique Quick
Alysia Roberson
Doron M. Elliott
Dedra L. McGlory
1997William C. Brooks
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
General Motors Corporation
Carla Sabbagh
Tierra Stamps
1996Father William T. Cunningham
Executive Director, FOCUS: Hope
Bridget Green
Kelly M. Schehr
1995Denise Langford Morris
Judge, Oakland County Circuit Court
Natascha Nunn
Gregory Sharp, Jr.
1994Conrad Mallett, Jr.
Associate Justice, Michigan Supreme Court
 
1993Dennis Archer
then mayoral candidate, City of Detroit
Alicia Cunningham-Sampson
Lisa McRipley
Apply

Are you a student leader? Have you contributed to breaking down racial and cultural stereotypes? 

Ask yourself:

  1. Am I involved in one of 250 student organizations on campus?
  2. Do I volunteer?
  3. Have I made a difference at OU?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions you may qualify to apply for the Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award. Apply now. Experience the rewards of making a difference.

Nomination or Self-Nomination Form

The Keeper of the Dream Award, established in January 1993, recognizes Oakland University undergraduate students who contribute to interracial understanding and good will.

Awards range from $2,500 to $5,000 and are available to students who have demonstrated strong citizenship, scholarship and leadership in breaking down cultural stereotypes and in promoting interracial understanding. The awards are presented publicly each year at the annual Keeper of the Dream Celebration.

Scholarship awards will be distributed and divided evenly during the fall and winter terms.

Nominees must possess all of the following attributes:

  • current cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 
  • demonstrated campus involvement
  • record of responsible citizenship
  • enrollment in a minimum of 12 credits each term for fall 2017 and winter 2018 semesters (8 credits each semester for graduate students)

Resume should highlight your involvement and leadership in working to promote racial understanding and to break down cultural barriers and stereotypes at Oakland University.

Essay should be 500 words or less and describe how you have made a positive impact on improving interracial understanding within the Oakland University community. Your essay should be clear and concise.

Include three (3) verifiable letters of nomination or support from members of the Oakland University community (faculty or staff) who can address your work at Oakland University on interracial/multicultural issues.

APPLY NOW

All nominations are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 14, 2016.
For additional information, please contact the Center for Multicultural Initiatives.