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WSSU announces 2017 MLK 'Building the Dream' Winners

2017 WSSU ‘Building the Dream’ winners (from left): Dr. Dawn Tafari, Dr. Fran Bates-Oates, and Dishanda Brown.

Dr. Dawn Tarfari, associate professor of education; Dr. Fran Bates-Oates, adjunct faculty in the Department of Education; and student Dishanda Brown have been named Winston-Salem State University’s (WSSU) 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. “Building the Dream” award winners.

The awards are annually presented to professors, administrators and students from WSSU and Wake Forest University who exemplify King’s qualities and promote diversity within the community.

Faculty Winners

Dr. Dawn Tafari, who joined WSSU in 2013, uses nonviolence and humanitarian values while advocating for change within her community. She teaches her students that no one benefits from racism, and that it is a collaborative effort to overcome the current struggles in American society.

She established a mentorship program for third- and fourth-graders at Ashley Elementary School. The program, through her course Advancing the Success of African American Males, aims to positively impact the trajectory of academic success for black males.

Faculty award winner Dr. Fran Bates-Oates is director of the Office of Field and Clinical Experiences in the Department of Education. She joined the WSSU faculty in 2006.

Bates-Oates teaches her students to open their eyes to what is going on in the world and to celebrate life. She begins every class session by inviting each student to offer something in their day to celebrate. Several of her students offer that this activity has had an overwhelming effect on their thoughts and outlook on life by providing a positive daily reminder that there is always something to be happy about even in the current turbulent state of our society.

She also created “Color Me Cultural” to assist female students at WSSU in becoming more empowered and engaged in the WSSU community and beyond.

Student Winner

Freshman pre-nursing major Dishanda Brown, of Greensboro, works closely with children in the foster care system to show them that they can realize their dreams and that the sky is the limit. She serves by example, showing them that regardless of how the world may view them, their dream should never be deferred.

Her mantra is, “Set a goal and surpass it.” Although she is from a challenging background filled with adversity, Brown aspires to inspire others. She is involved in campus life, including serving as a Ram Campus Ambassador, helping to expose young people to the possibilities of higher education.

Wake Forest University awarded the Building the Dream Award to faculty member (Religion professor Derick Hicks) and two students (Rose O’Brien and Cazandra Rebollar).

About the award and the MLK Day Celebration

Faculty, staff and students at WSSU and Wake Forest submit “Building the Dream” award nominations for their respective universities, and a committee of representatives from each school selects winners. The recipients were recognized at an annual banquet celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held at WFU on Jan. 16.

Annually, WSSU and WFU partner on a series of events to celebrate the legacy and achievements of Dr. King. Events also included: the 8th annual MLK Read-In and the 17th annual Keynote Speech with comedian and actor D.L. Hughley. More than 1,200 people attended the keynote at WSSU on Jan. 16.

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