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MLK event honors three awardees, includes conference

A professor who mentors underrepresented minority students, a 1985 graduate who has devoted his life to helping young people in his community, and a senior who has held office in the Society of Hispanic Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers have been named 1999 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award winners.

Professor Alexander H. Slocum of mechanical engineering, Boston public school math teacher Richard F. Williamson and senior Adriana L. Holguin will be honored at MIT's 25th celebratory breakfast honoring the life and legacy of the slain civil rights leader on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7:45am.

The theme for this year's celebration is "Teaching and Learning: The Key to Full Inclusion." Keynote speaker for the breakfast in Moors Hall at Walker Memorial is the Hon. Kweisi Mfume, president and CEO of the NAACP. Invitations are required for the breakfast, hosted by President and Mrs. Charles Vest. Reservations must be made by Monday, Feb. 1.

The celebration also includes a daylong conference for women of color who are 15 and older, entitled Cyber Sisters and Virtual Visionaries, on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Stratton Student Center, as well as an interactive exhibit in Lobby 7 designed by 15 undergraduates. A panel discussion involving the designers will be held on Friday, Feb. 5. It will be open to the MIT community. Semenya McCord and Associates and the South Mass Choir will perform musical tributes to Dr. King in Lobby 7 on February 4.

Dr. Slocum, the Alex and Brit d'Arbeloff Professor of Mechanical Engineering, earned the SB (1982), SM and PhD at MIT, and subsequently left only for a year to teach at the Cranfield Institute of Technology in 1989-90. He first joined the MIT faculty in 1985, later became an associate professor with tenure in 1995 and a full professor in 1998.

In nominating him, Professor Nam P. Suh, head of mechanical engineering, noted the role Professor Slocum plays in the Urban Design Corps and the Engineering Design Workshop. His classes "bubble with excitement," Professor Suh wrote. "Professor Slocum has infused excitement into minority and underprivileged students like no other faculty member at MIT."

Mr. Williamson, who earned the SB in electrical engineering and computer science in 1985 and a master's degree from the Harvard University School of Education, teaches in a "last chance" alternative program in Boston. He shares his home with members of God's Posse, a group of young men who have chosen to become productive members of their community. As an undergraduate, he was president of Black Students in Electrical Engineering and a member of Tau Beta Pi.

In nominating Mr. Williamson, Raymond E. Samuel, a research fellow and physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said, "The guy has laid down his life for something he has a passion for. Instead of asking what can America do for me -- big job, big car, big house -- Richard simply has done something that will benefit America in the long run."

Assistant Dean Ann Davis Shaw, nominating Ms. Holguin, described her as "a credible and persuasive individual, always successfully motivating others on her team for action oriented results... well respected by her peers." Dean Shaw went on, "She is an ethical person with a positive character... and has great integrity." Ms. Holguin was a teacher's assistant with MITES, tutoring calculus to 30 high school students, and served two summer internships with E.I. duPont de Nemours and Co.

"Cyber Sisters and Virtual Visionaries," sponsored by the MIT Community Fellows Program, will bring together women of color who are actively involved in the design, production, distribution and use of information technology. The goals of conference are:

  • To demonstrate to young women of color (ages 15 and up) that they can develop careers, power and connections to others in the information age;
  • ������To forge connections and mentoring relationships between women and girls of color who are engaged in evolving technologies;
  • ������To build an online resource for women of color interested in information technology;
  • ������To develop interest in a national con-ference on "Women of Color in the Information Age."

Participants will explore and discuss their work in information technology, exchange information and ideas, creating a jumping-off point for further discussion and networking. A web site will be created to provide the means to involve more women and girls of color in information technology.

Enrollment is limited. The deadline for registration is February 1. For more information or to register for the conference, contact Nuri Chandler-Smith at, by phone at x2-1380 or via fax at x8-6515.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 27, 1999.

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