Marci Reisman, Margaret Hebert, Xae Alicia Reyes and Wiley Dawson
Eastern seniors Wiley Dawson Jr. and Marci Reisman, University of Connecticut Professor Xae Alicia Reyes and Eastern retiree Margaret Hebert were recognized with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Awards on March 14 at a reception in the J. Eugene Smith Library. The awards recognize members of the campus community and community-at-large whose actions demonstrate distinguished service in promoting the ideals of King and to further the goals of diversity and social equality.
Keynote Speaker Hasani Pettiford called the awardees "four extraordinary community leaders and agents of change." He noted that King was also an agent of change, someone who sought out and confronted injustice at every opportunity. Pettiford asked everyone present also to be change agents as "disciples of your own destiny."
Reyes said she grew up in a family with a tradition of service; her mother would translate things into English for neighbors and her father would help other families by getting groceries or driving people without a car to the doctor's when they needed a ride. "Service is in our veins," she said. Reyes was especially moved that both of her sons could attend the ceremony.
It was estimated that Margaret Hebert has helped more than 1,800 students to enroll in the STEP/CAP program, with more than 1,700 admitted to Eastern following the summer program. Over 29 years, she saw more than 1,400 STEP/CAP students graduate from college. "I found my calling," she explained. She said she was proud to have spent her 33-year career in higher education promoting educational opportunity. "We still have a lot of work to do."
Dawson talked about his early years when he was placed in a special education classroom for three years. "I had no sense that I could do anything." Today, he has forged a history of success, participation and leadership at Eastern. "In order to be successful, you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I continue to be inspired by the people at Eastern to do more."
Reisman has served as a resident assistant since 2009; participated in the Summer Orientation Program as a counselor; worked in the Office of Career Services as a student assistant and interned with the Connecticut Judicial Branch; is involved in many of Eastern's clubs and organizations, including the Student Government Association, F.E.M.A.L.E.S., Senior Class Committee, Pathways to Leadership and the Omnicron Delta Kappa Honor Society.