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At Utah Valley University, MLK Day isn’t just a day off — it’s about connection and service

The Utah Valley University campus in Orem, Utah, Nov. 19, 2019.
Brian Albers
The Utah Valley University campus in Orem, Utah, Nov. 19, 2019.

While it's a federally observed holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also a national day of service.

For the students and staff at Utah Valley University, that service means creating a space for peers to gain knowledge through networking dialogue about equity, inclusion and diversity.

The African Diaspora Initiative at UVU is hosting its 29th annual MLK commemoration. The week consists of programming produced by staff, students and faculty members. Participants can take part in breakout sessions and service projects.

"Networking events are an opportunity for students who have businesses and nonprofits, as well as professors, staff and community members to exchange ideas and resources," said program director and MLK committee chair Jerome Currelley.

"The MLK commemoration is open to the public so anyone can come. Our breakout sessions are student-led and each component of the commemoration is geared towards students as well as the public," Currelley said.

David Kwabena Wilson, president of Morgan State University and Anthony Ray Hinton, prison reform activist & author of “The Sun Does Shine” will speak on Thursday, Jan. 19.

The university also hosts a monthly MLK Dialogue and community engagement series. January’s featured speaker is the president and founder of Black Physicians of Utah, Dr. Richard Ferguson.

The organization focuses on creating equity through BIPOC representation in medicine.

He said the service of mentorship is vital to the future of health care.

"Showing that black health care providers in the state, like the professionals here in the state, BYU and UVU students, there is a path forward. You can be in our positions."

Utah Valley University features both in-person and virtual options for its MLK activities.

Curtis Booker is KUER’s growth, wealth and poverty reporter in Central Utah.
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