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Three to be awarded for carrying out MLK legacy

By Luanne Williams

Wingate University’s MLK Awards – given annually to a student, a staff member and a faculty member who are living out the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King – will be presented to Taylor Sligh, Marta Falcon and Geniece Crawford Monde during a Jan. 19 recognition event. 

Taylor Sligh

Taylor Sligh, Wingate University Class of 2022

A senior from Greenville, South Carolina, Sligh earned three nominations for the award.

“Taylor Sligh is dedicated to serving and uplifting her campus community and the greater Wingate area,” wrote student Taylor Patterson in her nomination.

Vice president of the Tau Chi Chapter of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority at Wingate, Sligh plays an integral role in programming efforts designed to unite students across campus. She also serves as the sorority’s regional youth-services coordinator and is the highest-ranking undergraduate member of the organization’s Northeastern Region, which stretches from Bermuda to Canada.

A communication major with a penchant for organizing and collaborating, Sligh was concerned that the rise in racial strife and the pandemic-induced isolation that marked 2020 were making it difficult for students to connect and empathize with one another. To make it easier, she planned We Are Wingate, a weeklong celebration of diversity developed with input from more than a dozen organizations across campus and held in early November. To pay for it, Sligh wrote a $7,210 grant proposal, the largest student-proposed grant to have ever been funded by Wingate’s Board of Visitors. 

“Taylor went out of her way to apply for grant funding,” wrote Amanda Alling, assistant director of campus involvement, in her nomination of Sligh. “She is a student who perseveres and is more than deserving of this recognition.” 

Dr. Nancy Randall, vice president for institutional integrity and Title IX coordinator, also nominated Sligh for the MLK Award. She noted that Sligh recently organized a regional program for Sigma Gamma Rho that focused on social justice, specifically Title IX, and is collaborating with Randall and others on programming for a dating-violence and sexual-assault awareness and prevention week that will address issues affecting underrepresented populations, including persons of color, the LGBTQ community, women, and others.

Marta Falcon

Marta Falcon

Falcon, assistant director of Wingate’s Academic Resource Center, was nominated by Kristin Wharton, the ARC’s executive director.

“Marta embodies the ideals of Dr. King in every aspect of her work. She consistently takes on extra tasks because folks on-campus see her passion for equity and diversity,” Wharton wrote.  “Being bilingual, she is asked almost weekly to use her language skills to ensure access across campus. In her position, she supports students with disabilities so that they are able to demonstrate their learning. She always works with ARC facilitators to ensure that every student who comes into the ARC feels respected and valued.”

In her spare time, Falcon works with the First-Gen Bulldog Program, the Latinx and Muslim student associations and the Bias Action Team. She has worked for the University for just over four years.

Geniece Crawford Monde

Geniece Crawford Monde

Dr. Monde, assistant professor of sociology and department chair, upholds Dr. King’s legacy through her research, teaching and support of Wingate students, especially students of color, according to fellow faculty member Dr. Christy Cobb. 

“This year, Dr. Monde was awarded a sabbatical to complete a book manuscript on formerly incarcerated mothers in order to recast their experiences,” Cobb wrote in her nomination. “This book, when published, will be one of the first to focus on the experiences of women who were incarcerated. Like Dr. King, Dr. Monde’s research brings to light marginalization and inequity in the U.S. prison systems. Dr. Monde exemplifies the importance of black faculty at an institution like Wingate and is deserving of recognition for her mentorship, leadership, and academic research.”

Monde has been a member of the Wingate faculty for eight and a half years.

“I believe it is important to continue to recognize our faculty, staff and students who make a conscientious effort to advance the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the university,” said Dr. Antonio Jefferson, Wingate’s assistant vice president for DEI. “Whether in the classroom, making an appointment at the ARC or collaborating on a student organization program, these efforts make a tremendous difference in ensuring that all students and employees feel a sense of belonging and welcome on campus.”

This year’s recognition ceremony will be a virtual event and is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 19. It will be the third year that the University has handed out MLK awards and the first time that the event will include a senior keynote speaker. Iyanna Salters, a human services major and member of the Class of 2022, will reflect on her experiences at Wingate and how they connect to Dr. King’s dream.

The MLK event is open to the public. Email to request the Youtube link.

Jan. 6, 2022