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Part of a Weeks-Long Celebration of Martin Luther King and his Ideas

January 19, 2012

Students that helped build a medical clinic for a Dominican Republic village, inspire future minority teenagers toward careers in engineering and science, and acquainted international students to higher-education opportunities in America were honored in this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Student Leadership Awards at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Angelica  
On a Dominican rooftop, Rose-Hulman's Engineers Without
Borders leader, Angelica Patino (left), takes a broad
view of
engineering support.
 

These awards recognize individuals who have promoted and advanced a mutual respect, understanding and appreciation for diversity; made positive contributions toward improving the lives of others; and served as a role model in the campus community.  The honors were presented at an annual dinner, sponsored by Chrysler, which was part of activities this week honoring the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and his leadership in the civil rights movement.

Michael Jessamy, director of Chrysler's occupational health & safety and medical operations, was the dinner's keynote speaker.  This was the sixth year for the MLK Student Leadership Awards.

As president of the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) student chapter, Angelica Patino has spent portions of the past two summers organizing a student team converting a sugar plantation house into a medical clinic for a Dominican Republic village.  She recently led a professional report-writing session from an assessment trip to the village and the pre-design of the septic system phase of this real-world international engineering project.

"[Angelica] works really hard to make our project successful and motivates everyone in the group to work hard, to learn new things, and participate in all aspects of the project," an EWB member stated in a supporting statement about Patino, a senior biomedical engineering major.  "Without her perseverance and energy, the club would not be nearly as efficient, effective and successful as it is today.  It has been a very rewarding experience and (Patino) continues to motivate the members to work diligently to make the best out of every experience and to work for the betterment of the community, much like an engineer should."

Kim Secrist, a senior chemistry major, is president of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a member of the college's Student Diversity Collaborative and member of the President's Advisory Council for Diversity.  She chaired NSBE's academic excellence committee, participated in technical bowl competitions and works to recruit new members to the organization. 

"Kim is focused and focuses the chapter on NSBE's mission to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who positively impact the community," stated a NSBE member about Secrist.  "Kim is a leader in the spirit of Martin Luther King."

Passakorn Aramrueng, affectionately known as "Juice" by his classmates, has made great efforts to include international students in campus life and making them feel at home.  The senior electrical engineering student from Thailand also assisted with the formation of the new Chinese Culture Club and is a member of the Diversity Collaborative.

Faculty members honored were Mark Minster, assistant professor of English, and Yosi Shibberu, associate professor of mathematics.  Minster is the past chair of the Diversity Committee and led efforts to increase diversity awareness.  Shibberu serves as a role model and advisor to students, especially those from under-represented populations.

Also recognized were staff members Erik Hayes, assistant dean of student affairs, and Dexter Jordan, associate director of admissions and multicultural recruitment.  Hayes has increased diversity training for members of the residence life staff.   He has helped the growing international student population become integrated into Rose-Hulman's culture.  Meanwhile, Jordan has helped increase the diversity population in Rose-Hulman's student body and serves as NSBE's advisor.

Students earning honors in this year's MLK Jr. Week Art Contest were Kimberly Handoko, first place; Krystina Kamjorn, second place; Nicholas Aellen, third place; and Kevin Dorn, Kaethe Pfeiffer and John Munson, honorable mention.  All artworks are on display through Friday in the lobby of the Hulman Union.  Steve Letsinger, coordinator of art programming, organized this year's contest.