Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

SMC and New Roads School Students Receive 2020 Education Awards from The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition

Poetry has always been the healthier way for New Roads School student Cassadi Davis to express her feelings

Santa Monica College and New Roads School students were presented the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition 2020 Education Awards at a ceremony held January 20 at SGI-USA World Peace Ikeda Auditorium in Santa Monica to commemorate Dr. King's birthday. This year's awards recipients are:

• Santa Monica College student Lavay Cole received a 2020 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Award for a song that Dr. King's principles of nonviolence inspired him to write. Mr. Cole wants to change his community with peace, with the idea of touching the souls of people through music, and challenging himself with greater conviction, knowing he can make a difference. His college classes are helping him learn to express himself through words, rather than using what he learned in order to protect himself and those around him.

• New Roads School student Cassadi Davis received the 2020 Saul Morrison Award. Poetry has always been the healthier way for her to express her feelings, and she refound her love for poetry during spring break 2018. Ms. Davis has been working toward her goal of 100 poems before the end of the year, while also keeping a daily account of her ever-changing emotions, obstacles, struggles, and adversities she faces daily to overcome. The award for an essay that 'demonstrates a passion for bridge-building, community, and leadership' is presented to honor the memory and efforts of social activist Saul Morrison to secure equal opportunities for everyone.

• New Roads School senior Jasper Eliot was presented a 2020 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Award. Mr. Eliot wishes to pursue a career as a theater director. Social justice has always been important to him in his work. That passion was initiated by his mother, who read every children's book to him about Dr. Martin Luther King she could find. He has always wanted to empower people, and hopes to do so through the power of art.

• Santa Monica College student Aldair Fructuoso received the 2020 Clyde Smith Award. At a young age, his educational journey supported a clear direction to graduate high school and pursue education at Santa Monica College. He focused on earning an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education, with a minor in Psychology, while working toward his Bachelor degree and a career in law enforcement as a school resources officer. The award for 'artistic effort and service to making our world a better place.' is given to celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition co-founder, director of the former Neighborhood Development Corporation (NRDC), and revered community leader Clyde Smith.

• New Roads student Dayshanae Johnson was presented the 2020 Lillie Bell Blakley Award. Ms. Johnson has her goals set on social justice, inequality, and issues in computer science. From personal experience with abuse and neglect, she strives for inner beauty and strength to challenge social disparities while working at the Watts YouthSource Center. School and a job training program guide her path and goal of studying coding in computer science, and she is determined to use artificial intelligence (AI) programs as a transformational resource for other youth. The award for a work that 'demonstrates an awareness of tradition, legacy, and history' is given in honor of Lillie Bell Blakley, whose passion to "keep moving forward" is apparent in her family's multigenerational commitment to education and service, which includes son and former Mayor of Santa Monica Nathaniel Trives, as well as granddaughter Dr. Toni Trives, chair of the SMC Modern Languages and Cultures Department.

• Ariana Torres was presented a 2020 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Award. Through personal experience, she found that helping others helped her create a Beloved Community. As a former Rosie's Girl Liaison on the Commission of Status of Women, Ms. Torres believes wholeheartedly that violence is the core of destroying the human values in the world. She volunteers to prevent violent behavior by supporting women who are battered, formed the club The Riveters, and is a wellness ambassador focusing on providing health education to students through holding workshops on the college campus. Ms. Torres continues with big dreams as she strives to focus on the world ahead.

Each year, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition invites schools, churches, and youth groups to encourage their college freshmen and high school seniors to submit an essay, poem, or other creative work that exemplifies the "Six Principles of Nonviolence" in Dr. King's Stride Toward Freedom. The awards are supported by endowments established in memory of local community activists and managed by the Santa Monica College Foundation.

To find out more about the Education Awards or to help support the awards, please call the SMC Foundation at 310-434-4215.


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