Monday, February 26, 2007
KOD honors OU students with scholarships
|Ruby Dee, an actress, author and civil rights activist, provided the keynote address.|
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
Oakland University honored six students with scholarships during the 15th annual Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Awards Celebration. The students were recognized for their strong citizenship, scholarship and leadership in breaking down cultural stereotypes and promoting interracial understanding. The Keeper of the Dream celebration commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., honors the achievements of each scholarship recipient and benefits future student scholarships.
This year’s recipients include Brandon Svenson, a junior mechanical engineering major; Tiffanye Teagarden, a junior psychology major; Sean Buono, a junior mathematics and English major; Kwame Everett, junior business economics major; Matthew Kelly, a junior music and communications major; and Aaron Kochenderfer, a junior political science major.
Barnes & Noble at Oakland University, Beaumont Hospitals, Justice Marilyn Kelly, LaSalle Bank, the OU Alumni Association and the Ford Motor Company Fund each sponsored a named award. In addition, DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund sponsored the speaker, Ruby Dee, an actress, author and civil rights activist.
Dee quoted a number of inspirational passages during her keynote address.
“Every now and then a dream does put on flesh, stands tall and walks. A dream does happen every once in a while,” Dee said, and the OU scholarship recipients are working toward their own dreams.
Also in attendance was W. Frank Fountain, president of the DaimlerChrysler Fund, who introduced Dee. Mary Beth Snyder, vice president of Student Affairs served as the mistress of ceremonies.
The university's cable TV station, OUTV, will broadcast a recording of this year's Keeper of the Dream Banquet on various dates and times. OUTV programming is available on Comcast Cablevision Channel 74 in the following communities: Auburn Hills, Berkley, Clawson, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Oakland Township, Pleasant Ridge, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak and Troy.
For more information on Oakland University’s Keeper of the Dream Scholarship, visit the Center for Multicultural Initiatives Web site.
The Justice Marilyn Kelly
Keeper of the Dream Award
Sean Buono is described as one of OU’s shining stars by Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Beth Snyder. Through his work as an orientation group leader, admissions intern and resident assistant, he has had the opportunity to work with Oakland’s diverse student body.
Snyder said, “He has been instrumental in fostering interracial understanding in the best of ways – through his daily example and his efforts directed at helping students succeed. His campus leadership is widely recognized by all the students regardless of their ethnicity or race.”
With career plans of secondary education, this junior Honors College student is pursuing degrees in both Mathematics and English and was elected president of the Honors College Student Association during his sophomore year.
Buono is an active volunteer on campus, and through his imagination and creativity, helped create the Grizzdance Film Festival, Oakland’s first film competition with Student Video Productions and other offices on campus. He also established the Grizzdance Student Organization and serves as the treasurer.
He is gaining valuable teaching experience as a COM 101 Peer Leader, where he facilitates icebreakers and helps students navigate their way around campus.
Buono says that at Oakland University, “the essence of diversity is easy to notice; the trick is to make the connections to give it purpose.” It is apparent by his leadership success he has worked hard to make those valuable connections.
Keeper of the Dream Award
Kwame Everett has spent his time at Oakland University working to build cultural unity and helping minority students succeed.
“As we continue to see the effects of globalization on the world around us, we can no longer accept the narrow-minded views of the communities we come from; instead we must reach out to the world and seek a true understanding of all those around us regardless of background,” said Everett.
He seeks to learn and immerse himself in other cultures as evidenced by his involvement in the South Asia/India Club, where he serves as president of the organization dedicated to the promotion and celebration of South Asian history, culture and heritage.
He is also the administrative secretary for the Association of Black Students and the president of Men of One Accord, a group dedicated to the development of African-American manhood. He is a member of the Economic Students Association, Oakland University Student Congress Legislative and Multicultural committee, African-American Celebration Month and Cultural Awareness Week committees and “Just a Brother Away” forum.
Everett is a King/Chavez/Parks mentor, where he inspires students from underrepresented ethnic groups to pursue a post-secondary education and conducts campuswide tours for 8th through 12th grade students. He also is a Center for Multicultural Initiatives peer mentor.
A junior, Everett is a business economics major with a minor in the prestigious Applied Technology in Business program.
“Kwame has a passion to learn of others different from him, and he respects the values and beliefs of others, and he goes out of his way to understand their culture. He does all of this while maintaining his identity, his culture, and his beliefs,” said Aniesha Mitchell, retention coordinator, Academic Skills Center.
Oakland University Alumni Association
Keeper of the Dream Award
Matt Kelly is passionate about bridging the differences between students and breaking down the stereotypes that exist on a college campus.
He was among the first group of Multicultural Educators on campus, is an active member of the Gay Straight Alliance and is a Students, Administrators & Faculty for Equality (S.A.F.E.) training facilitator. He has also served on the OU Student Congress as a legislator, and facilitates a COM 101 course where he helps educate freshmen on the importance of diversity.
Kelly was vice president and treasurer of the Residence Halls Council in 2004-2005 and is currently a resident assistant.
“Matt is one of the most energetic and visibly involved students on OU’s campus. He is a positive individual who is highly motivated, takes charge and makes things happen,” said Jean Ann Miller, director, the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development. “He eagerly embraces new opportunities and does not shy away from challenges. In addition, he has his priorities focused and balanced, for his commitment to his academics has not been neglected while being engaged in many diverse, extracurricular activities.”
A junior music and communications major, Kelly is planning a career in student affairs. He is a member of the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) and attended the Region 7 Conference Planning Committee in Ohio. He also was a founding member of Future Student Affairs Professionals, a group dedicated to enriching out-of-classroom educational experiences for students interested in pursuing a career in student affairs. Additionally, he attended the OU Leadership Institute, an intensive year-long training through the Center for Student Activities.
“It was once said by Menander that ‘it is as easy to draw back a stone, thrown with force from the hand, as to recall a word once spoken.’ This is especially true today, more than 2,000 years after Menander wrote his plays,” said Kelly. “Throughout my Oakland University career I have strived to maintain the ideals of understanding across peoples, especially in matters of discrimination and stereotyping.”
Ford Motor Company Fund
Keeper of the Dream Award
Aaron Kochenderfer strives to make Oakland University a better place for all students, and embraces diversity in the process.
A political science junior with a minor in communications, he is active in the Oakland University Student Congress. Kochenderfer is the research and review chair, legislator and member of the Legislative and Multicultural Affairs and Senate Human Relations Committees. He helped create a Diversity Transition Workshop with fellow members of the Legislative and Multicultural Affairs Committee.
“Aaron is a talented leader on campus who hit the ground running before he was even a student!” said Sara Webb, coordinator, New Student Programs. “Aaron contacted the OUSC office inquiring about a position on the legislative body the summer before his freshman year. Aaron’s genuine dedication and commitment to gaining leadership skills has been apparent from the very beginning of his time at OU. In just a few short years, Aaron has become a well-known student leader whom others can rely on to provide direction, energy and passion.”
Kochenderfer is an OUTAS scholarship recipient, and is active in the Center for Multicultural Initiatives office, helping to publicize events and pitch in wherever needed. Aaron was invited last year to speak at Rochester High School about the importance of diversity. He is a member of the Phi Alpha Delta pre-law organization and the Future Alumni Network. He also is the fundraising director at WXOU, an admissions ambassador in the Orientation and Admissions Office, and served as an orientation group leader.
In addition to his activities on campus, he is also the precinct delegate for Macomb Township.
“When someone is open-minded, that person has many ‘open-doors’ to explore, making a well-rounded person,” said Kochenderfer. “We have so much to learn from each other that will not only provide us information about the society we live in, but also an admiration for the unique skills and contributions that each person has.”
Barnes and Noble
Keeper of the Dream Award
“Brandon is a model for a student respectful of diversity,” said Jude Nixon, professor of English and director of The Honors College. Svenson has spent his time at Oakland demonstrating positive leadership and teamwork.
Through his work as a Student Lecture Board member and special events chair, he helped create and plan an event to bring Imam W. Deen Mohammed to campus. The lecture helped further inter-faith dialogue and helped promote peaceful relations among all people. As an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship member, Svenson helped execute events for the Positive Week for Change in Africa, sharing information about HIV/AIDS and raising donations to help build new medical centers in Africa.
After hearing Spike Lee ask an Oakland University audience how many have read any speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King other than “I Have a Dream,” and seeing the low response, Svenson was motivated to create and distribute a Martin Luther King, Jr. speeches pamphlet for students. He explains, “We want people to be part of the dream; therefore, we want to help them see the character of the dreamer through his words.”
Svenson is a junior mechanical engineering major and member of The Honors College. He was an Orientation Group Leader where he led discussions on diversity issues including race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.
He is an Oakland University Student Congress Legislative and Multicultural Affairs Committee member. He was also a member of Fuerza, the Latino Culture Club.
Kristy Chene, assistant director, Office of Admissions and Orientation, said, “I especially admire his dedication and enthusiasm for helping his fellow students. I am confident in his skills as a leader. Brandon’s great desire to succeed is also evident in his academic endeavors.”
Keeper of the Dream Award
Tiffanye Teagarden works hard to break down cultural barriers and promote interracial understanding, as evidenced by her leadership on Oakland University’s campus.
“Tiffany demonstrates a dedication to advancing student knowledge in the areas of campus resources, academic success, and social/cultural experiences,” said Christine Cleary, assistant director for residence life, University Housing. “She challenges her boundaries and shares experiences with others, encouraging them to outreach as well.”
As a resident assistant, Teagarden implemented a Jeopardy Stereotype program with other staff members to educate students about stereotypes in race, religion, gender, athletics and Greek fraternities and sororities.
Teagarden served on the 2006 African-American Celebration Committee and co-chaired the closing committee. She also worked in the Academic Skills Center. She was an Association of Black Students General Body and Programming Committee member and a member of the Sister of Success Organization.
Teagarden is a junior psychology major, with the goal of becoming a counselor. She is the secretary of the Psi Chi organization and vice president of the Psychology Student Association.
In the community, Teagarden has tutored many elementary students in math and reading, and has strong and diverse experiences in community service, especially in the city of Detroit, where she has worked with the Detroit Urban League and Haven of Hope Community Outreach.
“’We lead not by our words but by our lives,’ is a quote I heard a pastor say to his congregation. I acquiesce to this statement, however, I believe it is our words we lead by; yet the way we live our lives is what inspires others to follow,” said Teagarden.