University of Central Missouri: Artistic Expression Abounds at 2022 MLK Freedom Scholarship Fundraiser

While showcasing artistic expression in many forms, members of the University of Central Missouri and the Warrensburg community came together Jan. 18 to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr during the 2022 Freedom Scholarship Fundraiser at UCM’s Elliott Student Union. The theme for the evening event in the Sandra Temple Elliott Ballroom was titled “Living the Dream: Live and in Color,” utilizing a new format while pursuing giving opportunities to help fund scholarships for students to attend UCM.

“This year, after many discussions about the focus of this event, the MLK planning committee decided to do things a little bit differently than we have in years past,” said event emcee Dr. Lover Chancler, director of Multiculturalism and Inclusivity. “We chose to focus on many kinds of artistic expression to show what it’s like to live the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Those attending this event had the opportunity to see recent scholarship winners honored publicly, while also enjoying an evening that featured fashion and art displays, as well as small group and individual performances in areas such as dance, instrumental and vocal music, live painting, and poetry reading.

After members of the UCM Army ROTC Color Guard helped launch the evening event, Dominique Hampton, a UCM alumnus who recently completed his Master of Business Administration, presented the invocation. In his message, he spoke about the history behind King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, noting that the main idea was rooted in the American dream, He said it was “fixed on the idea that our forefathers wrote, ‘We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.’”

Hampton said King “proclaimed that this nation may one day not be bound by black and white dreams, but will be a nation that lives out the dream alive and in color.”

“Look around you,” he told the audience. “Let this gathering be a moment of rejoicing how far we’ve come, but also rejuvenating the spirit for the work that is left. My hope and prayer is that each of us will continue to rise up to the cause that Dr. King has called for this nation.”

In his welcome remarks, UCM President Roger Best thanked individuals who continue to help make annual Freedom Scholarships possible for students attending the university, while also referencing some comments madeby Hampton.

“We know that education is the great equalizer,” he said. “Do you need a college education to be successful? No. Does it really give you a path toward success? Yes. This scholarship makes that possible for so many of our students. Thank you for being part of that dream.”

Three UCM students, Nikkita Dismuke, Kaitlyn Dolecheck, and Jack Mwamba were in attendance and received certificates recognizing them as recipients of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Scholarships. The fourth scholarship recipient, Monzerrad Barajas, was recognized but unable to attend. Proceeds from the 2022 fundraiser will go toward future Freedom Scholarships through the UCM Alumni Foundation.



The scholarship recipients honored at the 2022 event come from each side of Missouri and at least one is from out of state. All are actively enaged in their education as well as a number of organizations and volunteer activities.

Hoping to become the first member of her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, then pursue a career as a teacher, Dismuke is a sophomore majoring in elementary education at UCM. She grew up in the St. Louis area, and has been involved with groups such as Sisters of Ujima, Underdogs, and Sigma Gamma Rho sorority.

Dolecheck is from the small Iowa community Mt. Ayr and is pursuing a degree in Biology at UCM with an emphasis in Natural Resource Conservation. While preparing for work in the biology field, her university involvement outside the classroom includes membership in Phi Sigma Phi honor fraternity.

A senior at UCM, Mwamba is a St. Louis resident majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry in preparation for a career in dentistry. He has been involved in the African Student Association, Para Medico and the campus ministry group, Cru. His community service activities includes working with groups and organizations such as UCM’s MO Volunteers and Western Missouri Medical Center.

Barajas is a sophomore from the Kansas City area majoring in Interior Design. She has been a member of the Student Organization of Latinos (SOL) for two years and was recently elected to the executive board as the communications chair. She hopes to become a successful residential designer and own her own business.

Also taking part in the event were local youth and university students. This inbcluded a five-member dance team from Center Stage Academy in Warrensburg; Sophia Mendoza, who performed a saxophone solo; Alexis King, who read a poem she wrote; Asia Thomas, who made a live painting presentation of King; and AkaˊNe Tinsley, who provided a dance performance. The Anointed by Christ Gospel Choir featuring three UCM students also performed. Music was provided throughout the evening by the UCM Jazz Band.

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