In honor of NYU’s 2021-2022 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Week, Liberal Studies congratulates the recipients of the following awards: Drs. Joyce Aspel and Cammie Kim Lin, two LS faculty recipients of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award and Mehrin Ali, former LS Core student and recipient of the Patricia M. Carey Changemaker Award.
Inspired by the teachings of Dr. King, MLK Week encourages NYU students, staff, and faculty to embody change, difference, and commitment to discovering new possibilities. The MLK Week Planning Committee, on which LS office’s D Simmons Jendayi serves for the first time this year, plans various events in collaboration with the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation recognizing the NYU community for its commitment to Dr. King’s legacy.
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award
NYU’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award recognizes NYU faculty who represent the spirit, principles, and ethos of Dr. King in their research, teaching, leadership, and community-building. Students play a large role in this award, having and continuing to develop it, nominate and select faculty, and recognize honorees.
In elementary school, Dr. Joyce Aspel taught her grandmother to read and write English in an effort to help her realize her dream of becoming a citizen of the United States. In the process, Dr. Aspel learned of her grandmother’s experience as an immigrant and gained an understanding of people’s struggle with education. Now, she is a LS Core professor in the Global Works and Society sequence in the Politics, Rights, and Development concentration. Further, Dr. Aspel is the president of the Institute for the Study of Genocide, former-president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and executive board member and NGO-DPI representative to the United Nations for the International Network of Museums for Peace. She is the founder of Human Rights Works, and through workshops across the world emphasizes the links between human rights and wrongs and their impact on individual lives and diverse communities.
Dr. Cammie Kim Lin received her doctorate degree in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and has taught middle schoolers through graduate school students. She is a clinical assistant professor in LS while also working with the Liberal Studies Service Ambassadors to run The Violet Pantry, a student organization addressing food insecurity. Dr. Lin exemplifies Dr. King’s quote, “...peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits…” through her work with the Violent Pantry, her critical service-learning seminar, and her food writing.
The Patricia M. Carey Changemaker Award
Recognizing one undergraduate and one graduate student who embody humility, compassion, and strong character, the Dr. Patricia M. Carey Changemaker Award, named after 1982 NYU Steinhardt PhD alumna, serves to encourage students to be advocates for the betterment of communities.
A CAS undergraduate and former LS Core student, Mehrin Ali more than exemplifies the principles of this award in and outside of the NYU community. For the past six years, Ali has served dozens of low-income students at schools in Manhattan and Queens, contributing to their educational development. Furthermore, Ali has helped deliver food and other necessities to unhoused and/or food insecure community members. She was elected chair of NYU’s Student Government Assembly, president of the Senior Class Activities Board, and serves as a senator at-large representing students experiencing food insecurity and basic needs insecurity. Ali is also president of NYU Share Meals and co-founder of the start-up Food For Thought, addressing food insecurity and strengthening community bonds. Recently, Ali founded and serves as president of Mu Delta Alpha, a social and professional NYU Muslim sorority.
More activities in which Ali participates include attending protests against inhumane conditions at prisons and jails, advocating for student workers’ rights, and helping students with disabilities. In speaking on Ali’s nature, her sponsor stated, “Mehrin has never met someone who she is not able to find the good in and does not care about. She could be getting four hours of sleep a week, swamped between her various classes, jobs, and volunteer positions, and she’ll still be asking you if there’s anything she can help you with.”