Scholarship recipients at College of DuPage maintain Dr. King's ideals
College of DuPage students Danya Nasr and Angelica Rossi, recipients of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, spoke about their passion to help others during an awards luncheon on the college's Glen Ellyn campus.
The competitive $1,000 award is offered to students who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and plan to impact the lives of others based on the civil rights leader's teachings and ideals.
College of DuPage President Dr. Brian Caputo praised the scholarship recipients for their commitment to not only their education but also to making positive impacts on their communities.
"To quote Dr. King, 'The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character -- that is the goal of true education,'" he said. "Each year, I am inspired by our Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship recipients, and this year is no different. Danya and Angelica both plan to make positive changes on the COD campus and in their communities. They exemplify the teachings of Dr. King and I could not be more proud."
Growing up in Saudi Arabia and then Pakistan, Nasr said access to education was limited. During her acceptance speech, Nasr shared her personal testimony of being raised during troubled times.
"My family and I faced great barriers to education in the past in my home country," she said. "College of DuPage is allowing me to grow not only academically but also personally. An opportunity like this was unfathomable before, and I am now achieving my dreams."
Dr. King was a figure Nasr has looked up to since she was a child and his words continue to inspire her today. She plans to use her voice to advocate for equality and equal access to education.
"Dr. King risked his life to make it possible for students like me to have equal access to education," she said. "My hope is that one day all children in my home country can go to school without fear and young girls no longer face the barriers that I did."
Like Nasr, Rossi hopes to advocate for equality inside and outside of the classroom and fight for what's right.
"I want to use my passion for helping others and give voice to the voiceless, especially on social and racial issues," she said. "Dr. King helped me realize that if you want change to happen, you must make it happen. You must be the voice for the change you desire. Dr. King has also opened my eyes to the social injustices people face every day today. I hope to be the person who stands up for what is fair, who speaks for those who cannot, who fights for justice and who motivates change for the better."
After realizing she had a passion for enacting judicial reform, Rossi changed her career path from pre-medicine to criminal justice. Inspired by the teachings of Dr. King, Rossi plans to help rehabilitate incarcerated youth.
"Based on my belief of freedom and equality for everyone, I hope to reduce violence in my community and ensure our judicial system is fair," she said. "In today's society, racial profiling is just as alive as it was in the early 1900s and that is unacceptable. Corruption still exists in our judicial system and this is what I hope to change."
At the luncheon, COD Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Christine Fenne applauded the college's commitment to education for all.
"In addition to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship, there are many campus-wide opportunities available to students that encourage learning and lift people out of challenging financial circumstances," she said. "Hearing Danya and Angelica's stories is so important for the COD community because it's proof that education has the ability to change lives."
Learn more about scholarships at College of DuPage at www.cod.edu.