An army veteran, community health director, feminist scholar, aspiring opera singer, multicultural mentor, spoken word poet and an education activist who has completed more than 400 hours of community service are the recipients of The George Washington University’s 2011 Martin Luther King Jr. Award. The GW MLK Awards and a special event featuring PBS’ Tavis Smiley on Jan.13, will kick off a week-long celebration of Dr. King. Other events include the annual MLK Day of Service on Jan. 17, where nearly 500 GW students will spruce up several Ward 8 schools including Ballou High School; MLK Day of Speeches at Kogan Plaza on Jan. 18 and an MLK oratory contest on Jan. 20.

This year marks the 24th year that GW community members will be recognized as stewards of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of equality, compassion and empowerment. The 2011 MLK student awardees are Cameron Bell, a senior women studies major who received the GW Undergraduate Feminist Scholarship Award for her academic paper exploring black women’s sexuality and hip-hop culture; Brian Hawthorne, a graduate student studying within the Graduate School of Political Management; Adam Layne, senior finance major with a passion for spoken-word poetry and co-founder of the GW Griots; Bianca Neri, a senior international affairs who served more than 400 hours of community service during the 2009-2010 First Lady Service Challenge and received the Gold Level President Volunteer Service Award as well as the Mayor’s Community Service Award; Andre Lamar Smith, a senior pursuing a double major in psychology and music with a concentration in vocal performance; Catherine Zatorski, a sophomore studying international affairs with a minor in emergency health services and Mayra Espinoza , GW’s university coordinator of student involvement. They will be awarded Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m. in the Marvin Center Dorothy Betts Theatre, 800 21st St., N.W.

Michael Tapscott, director of GW’s Multicultural Student Services Center, lauded the honorees for their various accomplishments.

“Dr. King is the epitome of leadership. He lived in a purposeful, principled and values-driven manner that inspired the world,” said Tapscott in a prepared statement. “This is what people should think about during this holiday, and the students and staff that we honor today are living reflections of Dr. King’s dream. We applaud the award winners, the King Commendation winners and each of the nominees for their dedication to others through service, leadership and scholarship.”

The ceremony includes the awards program and a dessert reception. This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, contact the Multicultural Student Services Center at 202-994-7010 or msscares@gwu.edu. For more information on all MLK celebration activities, please contact the Multicultural Student Services Center.