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ME Students Share King‘s Dream

Left to right: Vil Johnikin, second-year graduate student; Marietsa Edje, junior; McAllister Daniel Jr., B.S.E. '00 and ME research assistant; Tershia Pinder, second-year graduate student; and Ronald Grover. The sixth winner, Bernard Drew, a junior in the ME department, is not pictured.

"There is nothing more tragic in all this world than to know right and not do it." -Martin Luther King Jr.

The notion of leadership affirms the capacity of an individual to move, inspire, and mobilize others toward action in pursuit of an end. On January 18, six Mechanical Engineering students were among 13 throughout the College of Engineering to be honored with Martin Luther King Spirit Awards. The award is given to students who best exemplify the "leadership and extraordinary vision of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."

Congratulations to:
McAllister Daniel ( )
Bernard Drew ( )
Marietsa Edje ( )
Ronald Grover Jr. ( )
Vil Johnikin ( )
Tershia Pinder ( )

McAllister Daniel serves in the Engineering Research Center's Student Research Opportunities Program (SROP). This program uses upperclass and graduate volunteers to welcome and mentor incoming students.

"I feel an obligation to share a sense of optimism and hope with those who are determined to succeed," McAllister said. "Because I understand the power of influence, I want to be a role model. How can I know the right thing to do, and not do it?! I am especially interested in encouraging minority students to believe that they can be accomplished in the areas of math and science."

McAllister will continue to work with urban and minority youth as a tutor when he completes his stint at U of M.


Humble and tenacious are the two adjectives that best describe Bernard O. Drew, who realizes that success is rarely achieved alone.

"My mother, Vanessa Watkins-Drew is the most humble and giving person I have ever known. She inspires me to serve daily. My minority peer advisors and members of the residence staff when I was a freshman also helped instill a passion in me to serve and reach out, just as they helped me find my niche."

Bernard has worked on the Multicultural Council at Mary Markley Hall as president of that group and currently serves as a minority peer advising assistant. He is a founding member of Black Uplift, which works to improve the academic environment for the African American student population through service projects, dissemination of literature, and initiation of dialogue within the university community at-large.


"Each one touch one" is Marietsa Edje's philosophy. "If you're not affecting anyone else's life, what is your purpose? We all have an obligation to help each other."

Marietsa is vice president of Unified Minority Mechanical Engineers, an organization that provides mentoring to underclassmen. "I was greatly helped when I started my studies. There were many people who cared about my professional and academic success and made a commitment to help me achieve my goals."

When asked what still inspires her about Dr. King's life, Marietsa responds instantly: "Cohesion. Unity-just as Dr. King begged in his speech for an America where 'all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands...' "

Marietsa credits her mother, Louise with teaching her the value of serving others.


Ronald Grover Jr. was actively involved in volunteerism as an undergraduate at Clark College (part of the Atlanta University Complex) in Atlanta, Georgia. The spirit of service arrived with him when he came to U of M as a graduate student.

"As complicated as life is, it boils down to the first two commandments: Love God and love your neighbor. I cannot allow selfishness to overcome me in my pursuit of these. I can't take wealth or anything else with me when I die, but I can leave a legacy of service! Dr. King's courage, determination and vision of what was right led him to literally sacrifice his life. Surely, I can live mine to make things easier for someone else."

Ronald's projects include working as a coordinator and teacher in the Detroit Area Pre College Engineering Program (DAPCEP). DAPCEP provides instruction and tutoring in courses significant for students interested in engineering. Ronald is also an active member of Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church where he leads a men's bible study.


"When I was younger, I benefitted from a lot of programs designed to encourage children in the inner city to pursue learning the sciences," says Vil Johnikin. "It's only right that I return the favor. My work with DAPCEP as a group coordinator at the College of Engineering has been done out of gratitude to those who encouraged me." Vil's group designed and implemented curriculum and projects for students participating in DAPCEP during the winter term.

Vil says that Dr. King's courage to 'challenge the inconceivable and change the impossible' is a source of inspiration to him.


Tershia Pinder says she enjoys working with younger children and teens. "Hopefully, I inspire them, by my example, that anything can be achieved, even difficult goals, with hard work and determination." Tershia enthusiastically leads a liturgical dance group of girls ages 7-17 at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, where she is a member. "I believe, as a Christian, I have a mandate to serve. It has become part of who I am. I think everyone has an obligation to help in their community."

Tershia believes her involvement with recruiting in the Society of Minority Engineering, Graduate Component is important because, "as you progress through the ranks of academia, the minority student population decreases significantly. Those of us who work our way up must reach back and help the next person."

The very concept of leadership implies that one individual can make a difference. In their service, these students encourage us to be our own best selves-to be active, insistent, and resolute.

Bernard says it well: "People want to believe that one person does not have the drive, influence, or power to make an impact on the world, but discouraging words and physical threats never stopped Dr. King from doing what was burning inside his heart. I think BIG! I have also been told that I can't accomplish certain tasks because I am only one person. I refuse to let anyone tell me that something can not be done, or that my time and efforts are in vain."

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