Connecticut College has honored three members of its community with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Awards, given each year to those who exemplify and uphold the legacy of Dr. King's work.
The 2013 recipients are Sandy Grande, associate professor of education; Joumana Hajj, dining services supervisor; and senior Jovanni Jauregui.
The awards were presented to the honorees by the College’s Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes at a luncheon on Jan. 30.
Professor Sandy Grande
Grande, chair of the education department and a faculty fellow in the College’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, approaches her work with the belief that education is the heart of a critical democracy. She has worked tirelessly for social justice education in Connecticut public schools, including making education more culturally responsive.
She served as the chair of the committee that developed the College’s Center for Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity and has served in a number of other administrative capacities. In 2011, she was appointed to served on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indigenous People’s Work Group, part of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
Grande is the founder and director of the Tecumseh Institute, a think tank for Native American and indigenous public policy and intellectual discourse. She serves as consultant-evaluator to the American Indian College Fund/Kellogg Foundation’s Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones Early Childhood Education Initiative. She serves as a committee member on the National Education Taskforce’s Committee on Race and Ethnicity and is an advisory board member for the National Science Foundation and Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Generations of Knowledge: Traditional Environmental Knowledge. She was also named “Higher Education Multicultural Faculty of the Year” in 2004 by the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Multicultural Education.
“Like Dr. King, Joumana is a person of deep faith who cares about rights and equity issues,” wrote a colleague who nominated Hajj for the award. She has held a variety of volunteer positions at her church, including director of religious education and youth group adviser. She cultivates the church’s charitable efforts and helps the children and teens understand their charitable responsibilities. And she served as a volunteer for Birth to Three, an organization that helps strengthen the capacity of families to meet the developmental and health-related needs of their infants and toddlers who have delays or disabilities.
At the College, Hajj has gone beyond the responsibilities of her position to expand opportunities for employees whose first language is not English and those who want to increase their literacy skills. To do that, she worked with New London Adult Education and the Office of Volunteers for Community Service (OVCS) to create classes at the College. She also assists with finding student tutors for dining services staff. Hajj also serves on a range of committees, advocating for employee safety and development. And she coordinates her department’s participation in community service and charitable endeavors.
Hajj’s nominator wrote, “Her efforts contribute significantly to people becoming productive members of their community.”
Jovanni Jauregui ’13
In nominating Jauregui for the award, a member of the College community compared his efforts to those of Dr. King, whose mission evolved to include economic justice as well as social justice. The nominator wrote of Jauregui, “Not only is he an invaluable member of this community, his commitment to the eradication of economic injustices, without ignoring the social universe which enables them, continues to inspire me.”
A gender and women's studies major, Jauregui is a longtime member and now president of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A). He’s also very active in other campus organizations, including membership in Sprout, the student-run organic garden; C.Change, a student-run organization that raises money for local and national projects addressing poverty and health issues; La Unidad, an organization dedicated to promoting awareness of issues most pertinent to Latinos on campus and in the U.S.; and the Ballroom Dance Club.
“He may be soft-spoken, but his voice is heard and deeply considered by students, staff and faculty at this institution,” wrote his nominator.