Student cashes in with MLK essay

A cash prize is appealing to anyone and most of the time it is a sufficient motivator for people looking to benefit from their work. This is, however, not the only reward from participating in programs like the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Proposal contest.

“The money was nice, but the recognition from my peers and professors at UVU was what really made the experience worth it,” said Jesse Tucker, 2009 first place and 2010 second place proposal winner. “I felt like I got a true conference experience from participating in the MLK event.”

This is one of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Advisory board’s aims in providing this opportunity for students. The contest allows students to experience a conference, before they have to do it in their careers so that they may be better prepared for future conferences they may be asked to conduct.

Another participant, Patrick Davis, shared his experience, saying that upon his transfer in the spring of 2009, he was only able to participate in the commemoration by attending the presentations, but was motivated by that experience to work on his own project to submit.

Davis said he began planning a paper that [he] worked on during English 3090 as a term project. His paper was on Native American voices for their own behalf. He added that after he completed the paper, he was able to present it at four different conferences, including UCUR and NCUR.

The presentation at the commemoration had a further impact on Davis besides his success in presenting his work.
“The interest that I developed during that project led me to limit the law schools I applied to: those that would afford me the opportunity to study Native American law,” he said.

Davis, now a first year law student at the University of Idaho College of Law, has the opportunity to perform pro bono work as a tribal Court Appointed Special Advocate, as well as potentially doing an externship with a tribal court or with the office of general council for the Nez Perce tribe.

Davis attributes his choice of career path to his participation in the MLK commemoration, saying, “The first step on this path for me was definitely participating in the MLK conference, without which I may never have made any of the decisions that led me here.”

Now, students have the chance to experience the conference and reap its rewards by submitting their own proposals. Their projects may be in any area encompassed by the upcoming commemoration’s theme of “Re-Imagining the Dream.” Projects can be presented in various forms, such as papers, art or performances. Proposals are due by Nov. 15.

For more information, contact Dr. Julie Nichols at [email protected] or Dr. Gae Lyn Henderson at [email protected] You can also visit the commemoration website at

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