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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

‘Creating the Dream’ award honors campus leaders

Leo Woods
Dr. Imari K. Paris Jeffries, president and CEO of Embrace Boston, delivers the keynote address at the MLK Creating the Dream award ceremony.

Suffolk University honored the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during a Jan. 18 ceremony, featuring the recognition of community members whose work has promoted inclusion and advanced the fight for equality.

Dr. Imari K. Paris Jeffries, president and CEO of Embrace Boston, delivered the ceremony’s keynote address, focused on the impact of the historical figures who are commemorated throughout the nation. Jeffries utilized an analogy of tracked advertising, emphasizing how the people and ideals that are memorialized influence societally held values and beliefs.

“One of the things about the King holiday is that it is an important time of commemoration. In this moment in time and this moment in our world, it is important that commemorations at universities like this illuminate the joy, the justice and the perseverance of the King legacy,” said Jeffries.

Jeffries cited that there are currently 723 Confederate monuments, 741 roadways, 201 schools, 104 municipalities and 22 holidays named after Confederate leaders.

“All of a sudden, if every single American disappeared and we had to do an anthropological study of America just based on our monuments and memorials in the same way we do for ancient Egyptian and Roman and Greek societies, the American story of monuments would be told as the subjugation of Indigenous people, slavery, military battles and war. That is the American monument story,” said Jeffries.

Assistant Director of Suffolk Student Leadership and Involvement Marissa Pierre, senior political science student Arantxa Melendez and the members of the Black Law Student Association were presented with the year’s Creating the Dream awards. 

For Melendez, receiving the award signified reaching a major goal for her time at Suffolk.

“I feel like [receiving the award] put a stamp on my time ending at Suffolk … I wanted to advocate for students who look like me who go through the same experiences that I do on a day-to-day basis, who have questions, who are seeking resources on how to find things on campus. That’s what the award felt like — like I had done something positive for my school community,” said Melendez.

The support Melendez aimed to offer those around her, she said, was a driving force in her success during her time at Suffolk, especially from fellow award recipient Pierre.

“I don’t think I would be the president that I am or the student leader I am without the backbone of my fellow students or my advisor or the people [at my work study]. I don’t think I would have gone as far as I am in my Suffolk journey,” said Melendez.

Pierre, honored during the ceremony with the faculty and staff award, said she saw the recognition as an affirmation of finding the correct career path, one in which she has been able to have a profound impact and has created a safe space for students to seek support and growth.

Pierre credits her success in making connections with students to her approach to every interaction: by showing every student she cares for and respects them, a piece of advice she shared for anyone hoping to make an impact in their community.

“Lead from your heart. Students gravitate towards students who really care about them, not only as students but as people. Lead with your heart, show up, be consistent and create this foundation of mutual respect,” said Pierre.

In receipt of the student organization award, the Black Law Student Association was honored for the community of support, inclusion and resources the association has established for students throughout their time at Suffolk Law.

“When I was thinking about law school, I was talking to some current Black law students at the time and attorneys and all of them said to me, ‘You have to be a part of BLSA, it’s key to your law school experience.’ It’s key to having that support as a minority student in a predominantly white space … We will continue to live out the dream that Martin Luther King had of all students getting the opportunity to learn and to succeed,” said Samantha Smart, president of BLSA.

Suffolk President Marisa Kelly presented each of the awards, welcoming the three recipients into a group of honorees over the last 19 years who have positively impacted the university.

“This tradition began in 2005 with the purpose of recognizing the outstanding efforts of an individual organization or department within something that works to create an inclusive, respectful and safe climate for members of the university community and having a sustained and tangible impact on Suffolk’s communities of color,” said Kelly.

The ceremony also featured a performance from the Suffolk Ramifications, an address from Reverend Amy Fisher and a presentation from Suffolk students who participated in the Culture and Connections trip to Washington, D.C.

For Melendez, the honor of receiving the award was great, marking the progress of so much that King worked to accomplish.

“To even be put in a category where you could win an MLK award as a senior at Suffolk is insane to me. The work that Dr. King did to put us in a position where we are right now; I probably wouldn’t have been able to go to school with the people who I go to school with,” said Melendez.

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About the Contributors
Maren Halpin
Maren Halpin, News Editor | she/her
Maren is a sophomore print/web journalism major with a minor in political science from Milford, Massachusetts. When she’s not in The Journal office, you can usually find Maren in Suffolk’s orientation office or at an on-campus event. In her free time, she loves to go to her favorite coffee shops, listen to Noah Kahan, Hozier and Taylor Swift on repeat, explore the city and spend time with family and friends. Maren is passionate about politics and hopes to go into political journalism in the future. 
Leo Woods
Leo Woods, Photo Editor | he/him

Leo is a senior political science major with a minor in journalism from Clinton, Connecticut. He has photographed political events, protests, performing arts groups and documented Boston Pride for the People for the History Project. Outside of Suffolk, Leo is an avid Dungeons and Dragons player and podcast listener. After graduation, he plans on attending law school and working in politics.

Follow Leo on X @leowoods108

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