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Conversations With Change Makers: 2018 Social Justice Awards

Feb 06, 2018   |   by Hannah Silverstein   |   Dartmouth News

During this year’s MLK Jr. celebrations, six awardees were recognized for contributions to social justice, including George Boateng '16 Th'17.

George Boateng ’16, Thayer ’17 with fellow awardees
The 2018 Social Justice Award recipients, from left: Dia Draper; Alexandrea Adams '18 (representing Alpha Kappa Alpha); George Boateng '16 Th'17; Zachary Kaufman '08; Associate Professor of Sociology Deborah King; and Patrick Terenzini '64. (Photo by Eli Burakian '00)

Each year during the College’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., Dartmouth recognizes members of the community for their significant contributions toward peace, civil rights, education, public health, environmental justice, and social justice. The event is co-sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, and the Dartmouth Center for Social Impact.

This year’s Jan. 25 celebration in Filene Auditorium began with music from the student group the Rockapellas, who sang versions of two songs by Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Evelynn Ellis praised the 2018 awardees for standing up for justice in the face of sometimes disheartening setbacks.

“Your moral values outweighed your fatigue, your commitment to justice outweighed your doubt in the possibility of social justice for all Americans. Your love of humanity outweighed somebody else’s hate,” Ellis said.

After Ellis introduced the awardees, each spoke briefly about their work and the roots of their activism.

Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award for Emerging Leadership

George Boateng ’16, Thayer ’17, research scientist in the Department of Computer Science; co-founder and president of education nonprofit Nsesa Foundation

Growing up in the small town of Winneba, Ghana, Boateng said, "The path to becoming a scientist or an engineer wasn’t really clear." At Dartmouth, an "Engineering 21" course inspired him to create the Nsesa Foundation, which, among other initiatives, offers Ghanaian high school students summer programs in science and engineering, based on the "ENGS 21" hands-on learning model.

“I’m really hopeful of what we can create in the next decade,” said Boateng, who is preparing to begin a PhD program at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. “I get to shape a society in which young Africans can grow up believing that they can build the next big innovation or invention—a society in which my two nieces in Ghana, currently aged 2 and 6, can grow up believing not only that they can be scientists and engineers, but the very best that the world has ever seen.”

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