Remembering the Dream: Looking Back
I wrote these responses in reflecting on my feelings about being honored with the Keeper of the Dream Award during my time at Oakland University back in 2009. I have had many experiences since then, many of which have contributed to my development in a positive way. I will always remember the many opportunities and forms of support that were given to me by the Center for Multicultural Initiatives and its staff.
2009 KOD Scholarship Winners :Video Questions & Responses
What does the Keeper of the Dream award mean to you?
To me, being honored with the Keeper of the Dream Award means validating the many sacrifices made by my elders to ensure that their children would be able to live their lives treated as human beings; having the same opportunities, rights, and protections under the constitution as any other citizen in this country.
By seeking to promote interracial understanding in the form of service, I’m doing my part to ensure that the lives lost fighting for my equality were not lived in vain. I seek to add to their great legacy, while inspiring the youth of tomorrow to go even further.
As a Keeper of the Dream scholarship recipient you have contributed to breaking down cultural stereotypes and promoting racial understanding. Can you tell us about some of the campus and community activities you have been involved with that have allowed you to be a role model in this area?
My service as a Resident Assistant has exposed me to many different kinds of people, and allowed me opportunities to confront negative opinions rooted in racism, sexism, homophobia, and a variety of other stereotypes in order to use the encounter as a means of education and understanding.
As the historian of the Association of Black Students I learned, as well as educated others on significant figures in African American history, in addition to current events that affect people in today’s society. Through my service as a peer mentor for the Center of Multicultural Initiatives and the Gear-Up Pre-College programs I have been blessed to be able to positively impact the lives of new students, and demonstrate good role modeling for underrepresented youth; encouraging them to pursue higher education.
Every day presents a new challenge; a new opportunity to improve our understanding of one another.
Is there someone in particular that has been a mentor to you or; played a role in where you are today who has helped shape your philosophies and personal development?
I can attribute much of my strength, resolve, and the positive development of my character to my father. Through living his life, he has taught me without teaching. He has shown me what it means to make wise decisions, to maintain composure in adversity, and remain humble in everything I do. His consistency has taught me to be true to my word, and his selflessness has instilled in me a will to give back. His lessons will be with me always.
Do you think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision, passion and faith continue to be relevant today? If so, how?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s vision of equality, brotherhood and understanding continues to be relevant today because he was not only a champion for civil rights; he was an advocate for the poor as well. Although the United States has among some of the best universities in the world, it is unfortunate that far too many of its citizens are denied access to higher education due to lack of finances. As a result, the potential for upward mobility of many people is negatively impacted. Better legislation needs to be passed to level the playing field for the working and residual poor.
Could you describe your overall experience at OU so far? What have been the highlights and challenges? Share one or of your most rewarding experiences (other than winning the KOD).
I can honestly say that I’ve made the most of my college experience. I’ve met many people from varying backgrounds and have developed a few close friendships that can last for years to come. One of my greatest initial challenges was balancing my social life, work and school upon coming to college.
Although, I have improved a great deal now that time has passed. I found one of my most rewarding experiences in filming and screening a short documentary on the N-Word on Oakland University’s campus. Although it is a controversial issue, its purpose was to encourage people to think critically about its use in our society. We must ask ourselves, are we honoring the memory of those who lost their lives for the freedoms we experience today?
How have your experiences with campus organizations brought you into contact with people from varying backgrounds and how has this contributed to your own personal development?
Being sponsored by the Center for Multicultural Initiatives to participate in last year’s Alternative Spring Break service learning project in New York city was an amazing experience that added a great deal of positive growth to my development.
While there I met various people; former musicians, doctors and lawyers; good people who came on hard times. It reinforced my belief that everyone who is poor, unemployed or homeless is not lazy or incompetent. It reinforced my belief that we should never equate wealth with goodness and moral character.
I am humbled that the people I served allowed me into their lives to share their story, and I will always appreciate the blessings in my life.
Grace & Peace,
From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins