NYU MLK Week commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s visit to the University Heights Campus in 1961. For the 17th consecutive year, the University is honoring Dr. King by hosting special events and awarding outstanding community members who carry on his profound legacy. Arts & Science is proud to note that six of our community members have been recognized this year: Dr. Joyce Apsel (Liberal Studies), Dr. Elizabeth Ellis (History, Native Studies Forum), Prof. Cammie Kim Lin (Liberal Studies), Karin Burrell (Department Manager, History), Mehrin Ali (Student, LS/CAS '22), and Quemuel “Q” Arroyo (CAS ’12, Wagner ’20).
Faculty Awards honor NYU faculty who exemplify the spirit of Dr. King's scholarship, life, and justice work while promoting the principles and ethos of his extensive global contributions in their research, teaching, leadership, and/or community-building efforts. Among this year's eight recipients are three Arts & Science faculty:
Dr. Joyce Apsel teaches in Liberal Studies’ Core Global Works and Society sequence and about human rights, humanitarianism, global violence, and peace studies in the Politics, Rights and Development concentration. She also serves as President of the Institute for Study of Genocide and Director of RightsWorks International. “My goal is to explore diverse perspectives and critical analyses that facilitate each student finding his/her own voice and becoming informed, engaged, members of civil society and the global community,” Dr. Apsel says.
Dr. Elizabeth Ellis teaches history and serves as co-director of the Native Studies Forum at NYU. She is a scholar of Early American and Native American History whose research and teaching are driven by a passion to center Indigenous stories, voices, and perspectives — as well as to organize and fight for Indigenous self-determination. She is a citizen of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and has the honor of being the first member of her tribal community to hold a PhD in History.
Professor Cammie Kim Lin teaches writing in Liberal Studies. Her professional interests also include critical service learning, English education, pedagogy, and food studies. “My goal is for students to use writing to understand and to transform themselves and the world — falling under the spell of language as they do so,” Professor Lin states. In addition to her teaching and writing, she works with the Liberal Studies Service Ambassadors to run The Violet Pantry, a student initiative that seeks to bolster food security.
The Administrator and Staff Award honors employees who are inclusive and just leaders with a proven history of respectfully serving their teammates at all levels. As exemplified by Dr. King, these recipients demonstrate a commitment to enriching and serving their communities.
This year's inaugural recipient is Karin Burrell, who works as a Department Manager for Arts & Science’s History, and has been an active and vocal member of the NYU community for more than three decades. She was instrumental in the creation of the Department of History’s diversity committee and its Students of Color Forum — in addition to having served on the AMC's Administrators for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (AIDE) Committee for several years. Through her service, Burrell has been a powerful and devoted voice for underprivileged and underrepresented students, staff, and faculty at NYU.
The Patricia M. Carey Changemaker Award honors one undergraduate and one graduate student whose humility, compassion, and strong character personify what it means to be a leader. Recipients demonstrate a commitment to enriching and providing service to their communities as exemplified by Dr. King and Dr. Patricia M. Carey (Steinhardt, PhD ’82).
This year's undergraduate recipient is Mehrin Ali (LS/CAS '22), who serves as elected chair of NYU’s Student Government Assembly (SGA), president of the Senior Class Activities Board, and as a senator at-large representing students experiencing food insecurity and basic needs insecurity — using each of her roles to advocate for change through the expansion of food access and financial aid. Merin is also president of NYU Share Meals and co-founder of the start-up Food for Thought — two initiatives dedicated to creating community for those experiencing food insecurity — as well as founder and president of Mu Delta Alpha at NYU, a social and professional sorority for Muslim women dedicated to service. Her extensive efforts attest to her kindness, compassion, and deep commitment to change.
The Humanitarian Award honors a community member who embodies the characteristics promoted by Dr. King — “a vision of peace, persistence in purpose, and inspirational action.” This year's recipient is Quemuel “Q” Arroyo (CAS ’12, Wagner ’20), who serves as the MTA's first Chief Accessibility Officer. Arroyo leads the implementation of policies, initiatives, and programs that redefine and advance accessibility throughout the largest public transportation organization in North America. His work on accessibility and universal design is recognized worldwide by governments, nonprofits, and the private sector.