Professor King, graduate student, alumna win MLK Leadership awards

Professor King, graduate student, alumna win MLK Leadership awards

February 5, 2003 | MIT News

Professor Jonathan King of molecular biology, biological chemistry graduate student Hector Hernandez and business executive Chiquita V. White (S.B. 1985) will receive Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Awards at MIT's 29th annual breakfast to celebrate Dr. King's life and legacy.

The breakfast will take place on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 a.m. in La Sala de Puerto Rico in the Stratton Student Center. Reservations are required. For information, see

Julian Bond, a professor at the University of Virginia and chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will be the keynote speaker at the breakfast. The theme of this year's celebration is "Faces at the Bottom of the Well: Nightmare of Reality vs. Dr. King's Dream."

The Leadership Award winners, who are being honored for service to the community, will be introduced by Chancellor Phillip L. Clay. Service to the community is defined in the broadest sense; it may include academic, research, religious and secular contributions.

King, a Yale University graduate who came to MIT in 1970, was nominated by seven colleagues, who cited his longtime commitment to use of science and technology to advance human welfare and the standard of living. A graduate of James Madison High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., King chaired the Faculty Oversight Committee of the Teacher Education Program, which helped MIT graduates gain teaching experience in urban public schools. He has been a member of the Technology and Culture Steering Committee for 25 years, bringing experts on pressing social issues to MIT. "Professor King has been a mentor and guide for those students at MIT who have needed to express their yearning for social justice in unconventional ways," the nominating letter said.

Hernandez has worked in the laboratory of Catherine L. Drennan, assistant professor of chemistry, since July 2000. "Hector has given back to our community by doing a superb job as a teaching assistant," Drennan said in her nominating letter. A graduate of the University of South Florida, Hernandez has received the Department of Chemistry Teaching Award. "He has already inspired minority undergraduate students to pursue graduate studies and has significantly improved the quality of life for minority and non-minority chemistry graduate students," Drennan wrote. "Hector also inspires our faculty. I am certainly a better person for having known him."

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