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MLK celebration to include educational outreach event

Dec. 8, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A new outreach event to help area high school students and their parents take advantage of the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship program will be part of the 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Western Michigan University.

Starting at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 11, the University will sponsor a higher education open house in the Bernhard Center, where students and parents can learn more about the benefits of attending college. Advance registration is requested.

Dr. Martha Warfield, WMU associate vice president for diversity and inclusion, says the open house is being held instead of a convocation this year to involve a broader range of campus and community members in the University's two-month-long MLK observance of the life and work of King.

"As in past years, we're coordinating our activities with the other co-sponsors of Kalamazoo's celebration,'" notes Warfield, who directs the WMU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which oversees the University's Kalamazoo Promise and MLK Celebration initiatives. "The city's theme this year is 'Reclaiming Our Voice: Connecting With the Beloved Community.' Our open house is a wonderful way for us to expand our ties to the local community, and it's consistent with the high value Dr. King placed on education."

WMU's celebration is being organized by the MLK Planning Committee, headed by Tony Dennis, associate director of recruitment for the Graduate College. In addition to offering the open house, the group is soliciting proposals for a series of on-campus discussions, workshops and other events that will be scheduled from Jan. 12 through the end of February.

For the higher education open house, Dennis explains that Kalamazoo Public Schools students and their parents are invited to come to campus after church, participate in hands-on activities that will be offered by WMU's academic colleges and then enjoy a free buffet dinner.

"Our faculty members will be providing a wealth of academic information to help families explore different career fields," he says. "We'll also have a short program featuring a motivational presentation by Dr. Lee Jones, president and executive editor of Inspire Magazine. And many of our current students will be serving as ambassadors, entertainers and hosts for the afternoon."

Dennis says Kalamazoo's Northside Ministerial Alliance is assisting with publicizing the event through local churches and with pre-registering those who wish to attend. Free transportation will be provided from various churches to the WMU campus.

Along with WMU and the NMA, the co-sponsors of Kalamazoo's communitywide MLK celebration are the city of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo College, and first-time event partners Borgess Medical Center and Bronson Methodist Hospitals.

The non-WMU events already scheduled include a Northside Ministerial Alliance program Sunday, Jan. 18, at Galilee Baptist Church; a convocation at Kalamazoo College Monday, Jan. 19; and the city's annual march to MLK Park, also Jan. 19. Borgess and Bronson are in the process of developing events that will take place on both Jan. 19 and Tuesday, Jan. 20.

To pre-register for WMU's higher education open house, contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at (269) 387-6313. For more information about the University's 2009 MLK Celebration, keep checking the Web site at wmich.edu/mlk for event updates or call Tony Dennis at (269) 387-1247.

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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