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Event Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Geisel Community Members Who Embody His Vision

Among this week’s events observing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement at Geisel School of Medicine celebrated the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its annual “I AM THE DREAM:  Past, Present and Future” awards luncheon featuring keynote speaker Barbara Ross-Lee, DO, FACOFP—the first Black woman to lead a medical school and who is now the inaugural president of Maryland College of Osteopathic Medicine at Morgan State University.

During her remarks, Ross-Lee asked the audience to reflect on the power of voice—that King’s voice was that of a young man, the same age as most medical students today, and his message remains relevant today. She went on to say that this day is an opportunity to honor King’s legacy by actively addressing societal inequalities and health disparities; today is a statement of purpose for the future, and an important day to remind those in medicine of their role in fighting all forms of deep-seated bias. “You are part of the solution,” Ross-Lee said. She also encouraged the medical students gathered to accept ownership of achieving health equity as a moral obligation “to do what you can every day, wherever you are.”

MLK Day luncheon
Left to Right: Omar Sajjad, Charles Thomas, Kristina Ali, Barbara Ross-Lee, Manish Mishra, Alisha Robinson, Irene Dankwa-Mullan, Duane Compton. Photo by Rob Strong

King long fought for racial and economic justice in America. And in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he said, “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”

The event was also an opportunity to recognize Geisel faculty, staff, students, and alumni who have demonstrated the ideals, courage, compassion, dignity, humility, and service that exemplified King’s character and empowered his leadership. This year’s I AM THE DREAM Award honorees are:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award—Charles R. Thomas, MD, professor of medicine and chief radiation oncology at Dartmouth Cancer Center 

Samuel Ford McGill Award—Irene Dankwa-Mullan MED ’97, MPH, chief health officer at Marti Health, adjunct professor at George Washington University Miken Institute School of Public Health

Distinguished Alumni Award—Gearald Onuoha MD, MPH ’15, Internal Medicine Hospitalist HCA Healthcare/Envision

Outstanding Faculty Award—Manish K. Mishra MED ’05, MPH ’09, lecturer, interim director of student affairs The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice

Outstanding Staff Award—Megan Read, MPH, MLS, CIC, director of the Hybrid MPH Program

Student of Merit Award—Kristina Ali ’24; Omar Sajjad ’27

Community Champion Award – Alisha Robinson, BSHCM, human resources business partner, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program coordinator at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital Dartmouth Health

If you were unable to attend, you can watch video of the event here.

The Geisel community is also invited to a special event on Tuesday, January 16 at noon in the mezzanine in Kellogg Hall as Lenore Pearlstein, President and Co-owner of Potomac Publishing, Inc., and Co-publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, will present the 2023 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award to the Geisel School of Medicine. This award recognizes Geisel for its robust Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion infrastructure across campus, numerous efforts designed to provide education and training opportunities for the next generation of doctors, basic science researchers, health scientists, and rural initiatives that improve access to care for all in the communities we serve. Please RSVP at https://dartmouth.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9QQsRMlZsMFSTBA.