Five individuals, sorority to receive MLK Awards

January 28, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Five people - two undergraduate students, a graduate student, a staff member and a community resident - and a sorority will receive the inaugural MLK Awards.

The awards will be presented at 4 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 30) during a reception in the Anniversary Room of the Purdue Memorial Union. The reception is open to the public.

"MLK Awards go to members of the Purdue community who have aided in creating an inclusive community and who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity and fostering inclusiveness and appreciation of differences," said Renee Thomas, director of Purdue's Black Cultural Center and co-chair of the Martin Luther King Planning Committee.

Those receiving the awards are:

* AnnDrea Butler, a senior studying industrial engineering from Indianapolis. She is the treasurer of Zeta Phi Beta sorority, first vice president of the National Society of Black Engineers student organization and participates in the Purdue Minority Engineering Program. She also has worked to reinstate the Purdue chapter of the NAACP.

"She has demonstrated the community service spirit that Martin Luther King, Jr. desired," Thomas said. "Not only has she taken the extra steps to provide the student body with a welcoming place to talk about the issues still prevalent in today's society, but she has showed us again that with a dream and the will, advances can be made."

* Rolyn Clarke, a senior studying nursing from Avon, Ind. She started and has led a multicultural organization in the College of Health and Human Sciences called ACCLAIM (A Cultural Connection promoting Leadership opportunities Academic achievement for International and Minority Students). She served as the cultural liaison for the African Student Association and helped organize the African College Symposium and Workshop to help more than 20 high school students prepare for college.

"ACCLAIM was able to conduct a very effective and successful residence halls health fair," Thomas said. "During the fair, the students focused on college-related health promotion topics, and about 70 Purdue students attended."

* Tyrell Connor, a graduate student studying sociology with an emphasis in law, society and criminology. A doctoral candidate, he is doing his dissertation research in New York City. He is a member of the Black Graduate Student Association, serving as president last academic year, and is one of the student leaders of the Purdue Anti-Racism Coalition. He was one of the students who served on the committee that created the Purdue creed.

"Tyrell has shown a strong interest in making Purdue University a better environment of equality and inclusion and a community that welcomes people from all backgrounds and religions," Thomas said.

* Wilfrido Cruz, cultural programs administrator in the director of University Residences office. He has initiated Cultural Nights in the dining courts, Lunch 'n' Learns that help service staff learn about other cultures, open enrollment translation events and beginning computer training sessions for staff.

"He has empowered our service staff with knowledge and opportunities they may not have known without his devotion and encouragement," Thomas said.

* Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Zeta Theta chapter. The chapter plans and hosts programs to benefit students, faculty, staff and community members of all backgrounds through organized discussions and interactive activities. These include voting registration, Adopt-A-Spot to promote a clean environment at Purdue, and weekly service at the Hanna Community Center in Lafayette, where members help students with their homework.

"These programs showcase the betterment of mankind through identifying and deciphering problems on the Purdue campus and in the community," Thomas said.

* Sadie B. Harper-Scott of West Lafayette, who is receiving a community award. She has served as president of Tippecanoe County Church Women United, president of the Hanna Community Center board and as president of American Business Woman. She has helped reactivate the Lafayette/West Lafayette NAACP branch with the recruitment of 90 new members, almost doubling the minimum number required. She also has worked with troubled youth, and partnered with the Indiana State Police in bolstering the recruitment of African American employees.

"Sadie embodies the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and brings to the community the same sense of justice and inspiration," Thomas said. 

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, 

Source: Renee Thomas, 765-494-3091,

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