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Social Justice Awards Honor Compassion, Leadership

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The Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Awards recognize members of the Dartmouth community who have demonstrated compassion, perseverance, courage, and leadership in fostering human dignity and calling attention to our common humanity. The 2009 awards will be presented on Friday, Jan. 30, to Kul Chandra Gautam '72, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF; Ricki Stern '87, filmmaker; Milton Ochieng' '04 and Frederick Ochieng' '05, founders of the Lwala Community Alliance; and Dartmouth's chapter of DREAM, a Vermont youth mentoring program.

The ceremony on Friday, Jan. 30, at 5 p.m. in Collis Common Ground includes a panel discussion and a reception.

Ku Chandra Gautam '72
The Lester B. Granger '18 Award for Lifetime Achievement

 

chandraKul Chandra Gautam '72

At his retirement from the United Nations (UN) in 2007, Gautam was assistant secretary-general of the UN and deputy executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Born in a small village in Nepal, Gautam was the first president of Dartmouth's International Students Association, and a participant in the student Model United Nations project. Inspired by that experience, Gautam joined UNICEF in 1973.

 

Throughout his career, he shaped UNICEF policy and programs, improving the lives of children throughout the world. The highest-ranking Nepali in the UN system, Gautam worked to promote peace and reconciliation in Nepal during and after his country's civil war, speaking and writing extensively on postconflict reconstruction and development.

Gautam also personally sponsors development activities in his native village and district, especially in the areas of health and education, child development, and women's empowerment.

Ricki Stern
Ongoing Commitment

Stern's films advocate for social justice by telling the stories of those who suffer and those who speak on their behalf. A producer, director, and writer, her work includes
The Devil Came on Horseback (2007), a witness to genocide in Darfur; and The Trials of Daryl Hunt (2005), the story of a North Carolina man wrongfully convicted of rape and murder and imprisoned for 20 years. Both films have been shown at the Sundance Film Festival and have won numerous awards.

 

sternRicki Stern '87

Stern's most recent film with co-director Anne Sundberg '90 is The End of America (2008), based on Naomi Wolf's New York Times best seller of the same title, an account of the loss of U.S. civil liberties following 9/11. Stern serves on the alumni board of Dartmouth Partners in Community Service.

 

"My passion for justice comes, I think, from my family, from how I was raised," says Stern. "Beyond connecting with people I continue to work with, including Annie, and William Rexer '86, my experience at Dartmouth-the camaraderie and teamwork with classmates and faculty in the film department-has had an enormous influence on how I make films."

Milton Ochieng' '04 and Frederick Ochieng' '05
Emerging Leadership

Brothers Dr. Milton Ochieng' '04 and Frederick Ochieng' '05 founded the Lwala Community Alliance and built the Ochieng' Memorial Lwala Community Health Center, a medical clinic in their home village of Lwala, Kenya.

 

ochiengMilton Ochieng' '04 and Frederick Ochieng' '05

A Dartmouth cross cultural service trip to Nicaragua, says Milton, helped spark the vision of how the brothers could honor their parents, repay their neighbors' support of their education, and improve the quality of life in Lwala: "That trip offered me an opportunity to see firsthand the potential that young people had in making a difference in the lives of people living in underserved regions through community service. It made me realize that I could pursue the dream of building a clinic in our village in rural Kenya."

 

Both are currently pursuing training as physicians: Milton Ochieng' is a graduate of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a resident in internal medicine at Washington University in St. Louis; Fred Ochieng' is member of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine class of 2010.

DREAM

DREAM, founded at Dartmouth in 1999, is a nonprofit mentoring program that matches students from eight colleges and universities with youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods in Vermont.

More than 70 Dartmouth students are currently mentoring children through DREAM.

"DREAM builds communities of families and college students that empower children from affordable housing neighborhoods to recognize their options, make informed decisions, and achieve their dreams," says Sheila Chang '10, a DREAM volunteer.

Chang has been a DREAM mentor for three years. "DREAM lets students make a real difference in these children's lives, through a long-term commitment," she notes. "Being able to bring these children to a college campus and show them the opportunities is a great benefit our program offers."

Selected by the MLK celebration committee from open nominations, the Social Justice Awards were established in 2002 to recognize alumni as well as current and former faculty, administrators, and staff who have contributed significantly to social justice, peace, civil rights, education, public health, or environmental justice. Since 2006, an award has also honored student organizations.

Click here to nominate a candidate for the 2010 awards.

 

By KELLY SEAMAN


Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 1/16/09