Center for Multicultural Initiatives (CMI)

North Foundation Hall, Room 104
318 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309
(location map)
(248) 370-4404

Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m
Wednesdays with extended hours: 8 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Keeper of the Dream

Keeper of the Dream

29th annual Keeper of the Dream Awards Celebration

Monday, January 18, 2021, starting at 11:30 a.m.
This year’s event will be broadcast on the
Oakland University YouTube channel.
About KOD

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 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.



  • Meritor
  • Willis Towers Watson
  • Autoliv
  • Comerica Bank
  • Magna International
  • Oakland University Credit Union
  • Alice Shotwell Gustafson Keeper of the Dream Endowment
  • Lynne and Lia McIntosh Scholarship
  • Oakland University Alumni Association
  • Marshall Family Scholar Foundation


  • KeyBank
  • Rocket Mortgage
2019Jeff Johnson
Award-winning journalist and communication specialist
Destinee Rule
Ghazi Ghazi
Flavio Di Stefano
Julia Alexander
Chukwuebuka Unobagha
Benjamin Lane
Gicentroy Henry
Dezirae Robinson
Ernesto Duran
2018Ed Gordon
Emmy Award winning broadcaster
Lakaysha Mitchell
Blake Walton
Kessia Graves
Obadah Asbahi
Hansen Karyakose
Farrah Sitto
Michela Manga
2017Holly Robinson Peete
Actress, author, talk show host, activist and philanthropist
Jacob Semma
Alex Currington
Aditya Tiwari
Daryl Blackburn
Ashley Chillis
Gabriela Saenz
Shayla McCullough
Anders Engnell
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
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
Mikal O'Neal
Mikal, a first-generation college student, is determined to break down cultural barriers on campus. In order to do that, she believes that everyone should accept and respect others who are not the same as themselves. A person can persevere in any situation, but Mikal understands that having a good foundation of support is the best way to promote change.

“No matter what circumstances are at home, there is always a way for people to overcome the negative environment in which they live and break their generational curses,” she said. “There is power in numbers, though, and power in having people in your corner and supporting you. It’s better to have a community behind you to further push diversity”

Mikal wants to be a source of that change and getting involved in the Center for Multicultural Initiatives (CMI) was a great pathway. She was hired as a mentor for underrepresented students, ensuring her students that they had someone by their side on campus. Mikal also got involved with Pre-College Programs, working with K-12 students in the Pontiac area and promoting the importance of higher education.

“Mikal’s constantly producing new solutions to problems that I present to her,” said Aja Gore, program coordinator for Pre-College Programs. “She goes above and beyond to ensure that our programs are planned and executed to their fullest potential. Her performance as a student mentor and my office assistant is unmatched.”

In April 2018, Mikal was named chapter president of Omicron Zeta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc at OU. One year later, she was awarded the Gregory Mars Greek Leader of the Year Award, an award given to one student in a fraternity or sorority that has made significant contributions to OU’s community. She’s involved with Greek Council meetings, volunteering at Housing Move-In and spearheading fundraising efforts.

“Mikal goes out of her way to build bridges between the fraternity and sorority councils at Oakland University,” said Victoria Armenio, an assistant for Fraternity and Sorority Life. “This helps to unite our organizations and helps to address the barriers that separate them.”

While juggling the pursuit of a master’s degree in health sciences, CMI, Greek life and Pre-College Programs, Mikal still finds time to be involved with the Association for Black Students and the Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students. In her free time, she volunteers with Gleaner’s Food Bank, HAVEN Women Shelter and the Leadership and Volunteer Center.

“Her wisdom and mentorship proved her to be a positive force and support in her mentees’ lives,” said Amy Yousif Joa, assistant director of Orientation and New Student Programs. “She helped them navigate their first year of college while encouraging them to meet new people and try new experiences.”

Jennifer Medrano Delacruz
Jennifer was never promised a college education. Getting one was an expectation of her adoptive family, but she would become the first person from her biological family to attend a university. When she first arrived at Oakland University, she was thrilled to see all of the new faces and mesmerized by the energy on campus. She said the opportunity represented so much more than just getting an education – it was her freedom. With both of her families in her corner, she knew she would do great things.

“Both families provided a support system that inspired and helped me to believe failure was not an option,” Jennifer said. “I knew amazing things were going to happen at Oakland, but it was only the beginning of my journey, and I had no idea who I was.”

The Center for Multicultural Initiatives (CMI) became a home base for Jennifer. The office offered mentorship and encouragement, and assured her that she was capable of achieving her dreams. Jennifer was quickly appointed leadership roles – first, as an Orientation Group Leader (OGL), then as a success coach and peer mentor.

“Jennifer is excelling in all the … roles she holds,” said Denise R. Thompkins, retention coordinator for CMI. “She works with diverse groups of students daily, providing them with guidance as they navigate the college setting. Jennifer is not afraid to challenge inappropriate or concerning behavior as it relates to diversity and inclusion.”

As the lone Hispanic female on the OGL team, she sets a positive example for other students, helping them love themselves and their appearances. She’s proof that, no matter what background you come from, you can be successful through hard work and dedication. Her commitment to this role has garnered high praise.

“Jennifer is the consummate professional, engaging with and caring about students each step of the way,” said Caitlin Thayer, an academic adviser at Oakland. She’s a gift to new students as they navigate campus and course registration for the first time. She enters the registration lab with a smile every day; students felt welcomed, taken care of and encouraged during this new and intimidating experience.”

During her time at OU, Jennifer has maintained a 3.2 GPA, and has been awarded both the Wade McCree Scholarship and the Oakland University Trustee Academic Endowment Scholarship four times. She’s also a three-time recipient of the Oakland University Recognition Scholarship.

“Jennifer is dependable, responsible and strives for academic excellence, reaching well above the minimum requirements and responsibilities of her jobs and programs,” said Amy Yousif Joa, assistant director of Orientation and New Student Programs. “She works hard and never loses sight of her goals.”

Maya Ford
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Maya at Oakland University, but her unique and sometimes difficult journey here is something she wouldn’t trade for the world. Oakland University has provided her with endless opportunities and Maya has taken full advantage of them. Arriving on campus as a shy student, she is now a strong individual with big dreams.

“When I started out as a freshman, I was quiet and soft spoken,” Maya said, “I developed into… a leader on campus and [am] committed to enhancing the lives of all women. I plan to dedicate my remaining time at Oakland University and my future career to ensuring all women have a voice. When you have a voice and it’s heard, you have unlimited potential.”

As a junior, Maya was named president of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She played a major role in the organization’s first event, The One Love Escalations Workshop. Through this work, she helped educate campus community members on healthy relationships, signs of abusive relationships and how to help others in unhealthy situations.

“Maya spends her time outside of class engaged in the community both on and off campus,” said Holly Walker-Coté, a special lecturer for the Department of Modern Languages and Literature. “The growth I have witnessed in Maya … is largely due to her exposure to diverse courses of study, working with the CMI office and participating in various organizations as a consistent leader.”

During her freshman year, Maya got involved with Alternative Spring Break (ASB), She has traveled to New York and Florida to help the homeless and disabled adults. This year, Maya will assume a leadership role for ASB when they make a trip to Atlanta to help with the Medici Project, which tackles homelessness, refugee cases and human trafficking, among other pressing social issues.

“Maya’s citizenship and leadership are unparalleled,” said Valerie Palmer-Mehta, Ph.D., a communications professor at OU. “She’s a strong role model on campus for underserved, minority and marginalized populations. For the past two years she’s paid out of pocket to participate in ASB, and she will be organizing every aspect of the trip this year.”

Maya’s majoring in women and gender studies and is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. Despite all the hats she wears, Maya is able to maintain a 3.52 GPA.

“Maya has revealed herself to be intellectually gifted, unwaveringly driven, focused, disciplined and truly courageous,” said Dr. L Bailey McDaniel, an English associate professor. “She’s genuinely kind and community minded young adult.”

Raneen Allos
Growing up as a second-generation Chaldean American with a strong family bond, Raneen never had the opportunity to step out of her comfort zone. With the desire to continue her education and become a physical therapist, she took a leap into unfamiliar territory — a college campus. Oakland University has been an eye-opening experience for Raneen.

“Coming to college was my first opportunity to become immersed in a place where I was meeting people who had different backgrounds,” Raneen said. “I have seen the beauty in diversity while also recognizing the strides we must take to continue standing up for those who are marginalized and discriminated against.”

During her freshman year, Raneen got involved with the Center for Multicultural Initiatives. She was awarded the Oakland University Trustee Academic Success (OUTAS) scholarship, and her dedication to CMI led to her getting hired as a student assistant. She works with a diverse group of students, building relationships and interacting with the student population, providing impactful support. She plays a vital part in assisting CMI implement diversity related initiatives.

“Raneen understands the importance of social awareness and inclusion,” said Denise R. Thompkins-Jones, a retention coordinator for CMI. “She’s become a standout advocate on our team, assisting in facilitating dialogue centered around difficult conversations. Her dedication to her education as well as her enthusiasm and commitment to the departments’ mission is evident.”

Giving back and helping people is ingrained in Raneen. Her ability to do so goes beyond OU’s campus. She volunteers for OU Alternative Spring Break to help people throughout the country. She traveled to Kissimmee, Florida, to volunteer her time with Give Kids the World. She worked as a site facilitator in charge of 15 other participants, providing support for critically ill children and their families, ensuring they have a wonderful vacation.

“I believe that Raneen’s heart is true and she is dedicated to helping others no matter how near or far she has to travel,” said Michelle D. Southward, director of academic advising and student services, and Raneen’s mentor through OU’s Alumni Engagement Office. “She is a true humanitarian with great empathy for others. Her positive energy and magnetic personality show through her daily interaction with others. She is definitely one of humility and integrity.”

The responsibilities don’t end there. Raneen was also involved with Leadership OU and was a research assistant for the Exercise Science Department. She worked closely with Daniel J. Goble, Ph.D., an associate professor and program coordinator for the Exercise Science Program. He noticed early that Raneen would have an impact that extends beyond campus.

“Raneen is clearly a leader on campus when it comes to propagating diversity,” Goble said. “Through her club membership, she has created opportunities for under-represented students and set an example through her own actions.”

Donovan Hernandez
Growing up as an undocumented minority came with a handful of challenges, but nothing was going to stop Donovan from pursuing his dreams. His upbringing helped him realize that the situation that you are born into doesn’t lay the groundwork for who you will be. Through hard work and dedication, he has taken advantage of every opportunity that has come his way, leading to his success on campus and in the engineering world. He knows that others are going through the same struggles and he is working to give them confidence to succeed.

“Using STEM and engineering to show how anyone – regardless of age, religion or sexual orientation – can succeed makes me feel proud of what I do,” he said.

Before his time at Oakland, Donovan attended the International Technology Academy (ITA), where he was highly involved in extracurricular activities. He was the FIRST robotics team captain, spokesperson, tour guide and National Honor Society leader.

ITA Principal Greg Spencer noticed his hard work and dedication.

“Donovan is easily one of the most mature, intelligent, dedicated, empathetic and humble young men I have ever had the honor of working with in my 21-year educational career,” Spencer said, “I established a ‘Wall of Fame’ with plaques of graduates and explanations of their accomplishments. I can’t wait to add Donovan to that wall.”

A member of OU’s Honors College and Outreach program, Donovan, a mechanical engineering junior, is a huge advocate for STEM. During the summer, he is involved with STEM camps, where more than 1,000 K-12 students attend week-long camps in coding, robotics, math and engineering.

“Donovan has led camps for underrepresented and underserved students from Detroit and Pontiac,” said Dr. Chris Kobus, Director of Outreach, Recruitment and Retention. “He has been a great asset, developing his own modules to teach in the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) Preparing African American Males for Energy and Education (PAAMEE). Up to 40 students would attend and Donovan was an excellent student leader the whole way through.”

These programs have a special place in Donovan’s heart. He was once a student attending the camps. He has seen how they help you grow as a person, and prepare you for your career. Donovan wants these initiatives to have the same impact on others.

To ensure that happens, he stays involved and encourages others. “Donovan is always the first to volunteer for all Saturday program initiatives, and he assists in developing the problem-solving curriculum for our DAPCEP school program,” said Bianca Bryant, assistant director of outreach. “Donovan takes his job serious and he does so with grace and a smile.”

Zakia Ali-James
“It’s not where you come from, or what you look like, but rather what you bring to the table.” Zakia has tried to live by these words since arriving on campus in 2016. A first-generation college student from Detroit, she knew she was entering unknown territory, but made sure to put herself out there and get involved wherever she could. Zakia challenged herself to get to know people on campus and make an impact.

“Every day I try to make someone feel comfortable, whether that be from a smile, a conversation or by letting my personality shine through, because I want everyone to know how it feels to be part of an inclusive community,” Zakia said She applied to be a peer mentor for the Center for Multicultural Initiatives (CMI), allowing her to connect with people from all walks of life. She works with first-year students, helping them adapt to life at OU. Zakia also works for University Housing as a Nightwatch desk assistant, serving as the first contact for residents and parents overnight.

“She’s a great mentor, advocate and support to others while creating a safe place for people to feel like they belong,” said Susan Mickhail, a graduate residence director for University Housing. “She is a strong leader on our Nightwatch staff… and pours her heart into people around her in all the roles she holds on campus.”

Zakia is heavily involved in extracurriculars at OU, volunteering with Project Big Sister, OU Student Congress and Detroit Rescue Mission. She works at CARE House as a volunteer child assistant, spending time with children who have dealt with child abuse. She’s the president of Zeta Phi Beta’s Nu Nu Chapter. Her sorority engages in raising awareness of issues like drunk driving, premature births and diabetes. She traveled to New Orleans with Alternative Spring Break, learning about Louisiana’s education system.

“During our trip, Zakia showed a level of compassion and understanding not only for the purpose of the trip, but for the trip’s participants,” said Aja Gore, program coordinator for Pre-College Programs. “She facilitated conversations and led group activities. Her actions showed that she was invested in learning something new.”

Zakia has served as a research assistant for Teressa A. Benz, Ph.D., and assistant professor of criminal justice for the past three semesters. She has done a broad literature review of policies that allow concealed firearms on college campuses and codes focus group data on the topic.

“She is very intelligent, attentive, hardworking, quick-witted and thinks outside the box,” Benz said. “In addition to Zakia’s academic skills, she works daily to make OU a more inclusive and diverse place.”

Isaias Levi Cruz
Coming from a family with a strong Hispanic background, Isaias made sure to stay true to his roots while at Oakland University. He is fluent in oral and written Spanish and used those skills to benefit others. He volunteered with Los Pentecostales De Waterford Iglesia Apostólica as well as did personal translations of documents, interpretations of appointments and meetings for members of the community.

“It is crucial for us to strive to work together, regardless of whatever label we can use to separate ourselves,” Isaias said. “A society that works together achieves more and is more efficient.”

During his freshman year, Isaias got involved with the Center for Multicultural Initiatives. He had biweekly meetings with peer mentors and staff members from CMI to discuss his academic work and goals. His continuous involvement with CMI landed him the Oakland University Trustee Academics Success Scholarship (OUTAS). “Isaias is punctual, responsible and strives for academic excellence, reaching well beyond the minimum requirements and responsibilities of his job and program,” said Amy Yousif Joa, assistant director of Orientation and New Student Programs. “He works hard and never loses sight of his goals. He is very passionate about advocacy and has tenacity for building relationships and motivating others.”

Isaias is the president of the Oakland University Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO). He worked diligently with other presidents to unify HALO, the Spanish Club and the Spanish Honor Society Sigma Delta Pi, bringing people together from all walks of life. Through these programs, Isaias was able to work closely with English as a Second Language (ESL) students in the Pontiac area, helping them apply for college and financial aid, as well as find their strengths and plan their futures.

“Isaias generously and unpretentiously devotes his time to aiding students, faculty and administrators in carrying out university and community projects,” said Cecilia Saenz Roby, an associate professor of Spanish. “His professionalism is praiseworthy and recognized by his peers and supervisors.”