Achievements honored during SIUE’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration

“Education is a blueprint for success” was the motivating and reverberating message of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 17, in the Morris University Center Meridian Ballroom.

siuekingday“Education saved my life, because it provided me with options, opportunities, the capacity to think for myself, the ability to be strategic, the capability to position myself and wherewithal to tap into my potential,” said Dr. Shonta Smith, founder and CEO of Dr. Shonta Smith International LLC of St. Louis.

Smith was the guest speaker at the 35th Birthday Celebration that drew approximately 220 people. The theme for the luncheon was “Intelligence Plus Character – That is the True Meaning of Education.”

“The 35th Birthday Celebration is a time to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who dedicated his efforts to bring hope and healing to America,” said Chancellor Randy Pembrook. “In his 1947 letter, the Purpose of Education, Dr. King described two of its functions – utility and culture. He stated, ‘education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence to discern the truth from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.’”

“Dr. King’s legacy of promoting historic reform within the context of civil responsibility and educational delivery is inherent in the values we hold true at SIUE – citizenship, inclusion, integrity, wisdom and excellence. These represent the university’s character, as we strive by example to be able to show in the words of Dr. King, ‘Intelligence is not enough.’”

Awards were presented for outstanding achievements and contributions:
• Community Humanitarian – Desiree Tyus
• Faculty Humanitarian – Dr. Jessica Harris
• Staff Humanitarian Staff – Shawn Roundtree
• Scholarship – Jonathan Amwayi
• High School Essay – Elizabeth Ruvalcaba
• High School Poetry – Keana Fox
• High School Visual Arts – Layne Willhite

The mission of Smith’s company is to help provide schools and institutions with the highest quality education possible to youth and assist teachers, principals, and other education professionals to excel in their careers. Smith is also associate professor in the Department of Elementary, Early and Special Education at Southeast Missouri State University and has more than 25 years of experience in education.

Photo from left: Community humanitarian award winner Desiree Tyus, scholarship winner Jonathan Amwayi, faculty humanitarian award winner Dr. Jessica Harris, Chancellor Randy Pembrook, featured speaker Dr. Shonta Smith, staff humanitarian award winner Shawn Roundtree and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jeffrey Waple.

A video can be found here.

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