This coming Monday, as we honor the impact and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we should reflect on how we can contribute to a world that lives up to Dr. King’s dream of equality and justice. There are many opportunities for our community members to volunteer and engage on this day of service, and you can find a number of these resources through the Whole U. However, at our mission-driven University, we strive every day to advance the values that Dr. King worked for, and I am proud of the broad and impressive scope of impact that UW students, faculty, staff and alumni create in the world throughout the year.
In 1957, speaking to an audience in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. King said that “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” In every part of the UW, I see people answering this question through their work, study and exploration. UW scholars are recognized for their work advancing racial and economic justice. UW staff are working to create more pathways for community college students to transfer to the UW to earn their bachelor’s degree. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff volunteer their time and energy to support local community-serving non-profits. At UW Bothell, a public health class traveled to Guatemala to provide primary care and health education in rural villages, and at UW Tacoma, students helped prepare a community food garden as part of their efforts to build strong ties between the campus and the wider community. Through the Rural Underserved Opportunities Program, UW medical students live and work alongside local physicians to learn to care for patients in rural communities. Caregivers, educators, public servants, volunteers and philanthropists with ties to the UW are everywhere you look.
So, however you choose to use this Monday – whether as a day of service, reflection or care – I hope you’ll consider how the values and spirit of this national day of service are integrated into your daily life as a member of the UW community. Our obligation to each other – what Dr. King called the “inescapable network of mutuality” – is our greatest strength, if we recognize and honor our shared humanity and the power to create change that emerges when we work together. I’m honored to be a member of this extraordinary community that does so much to create and accelerate change for the public good.