MACON – Mercer University will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day with service opportunities organized by MerServe on Jan. 20 and “Living the Dream,” a program co-sponsored by the Minority Mentor Program and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, on Jan. 21.
MerServe, the University’s student-run service leadership board, will once again organize volunteer efforts for Monday’s annual MLK Jr. Breakfast, held this year at Vineville United Methodist Church. An additional service opportunity will be offered with the Fuller Center for Housing in Macon. Registration is available online.
Members of the Mercer community who are unable to attend the breakfast or volunteer at the Fuller Center, are encouraged to participate in the annual citywide MLK Memorial March, beginning from campus at 11 a.m. and culminating at the Macon-Bibb Government Center downtown.
“Dr. King once said, ‘Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.’ This legacy of service and commitment to social change is honored through MerServe’s MLK Day of Service. This celebration provides more than just an opportunity to volunteer for a few hours. It is a chance to build community and share an experience with persons of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds or political beliefs,” said Lauren Shinholster, coordinator of community engagement.
“Living the Dream” will take place on Tuesday, beginning at 5 p.m., with a march from the bear statue outside the University Center to Willingham Auditorium. The first 100 students in attendance will receive a free T-shirt.
The program, which is free and open to the public, will begin in Willingham at 5:30 p.m. with “Dream Speak,” a spoken word competition organized by Mercer’s Point B.L.A.N.K. poets featuring a $100 prize, as well as a keynote address from Dr. Kirk Nooks, president of Gordon State College.
“Echoing the sentiments of Dr. King that ‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education,’ President Nooks’ inspirational message for faculty, staff and students will encourage the continuance of ‘Living the Dream.’ His address will highlight the role Mercerians will play in the continual development of Dr. King’s legacy through higher education and service,” said Dr. Ansley Booker, director of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
A “double Bear,” Dr. Nooks earned both his Bachelor of Science in industrial management and Master of Business Administration in marketing from Mercer.
He was appointed president of Gordon State College effective June 1, 2018. Prior to that, he served as a college president and in various senior administrator roles for more than 10 years. He began his career as a campus dean, dean of student services and project manager and has a blended set of skills and more than 20 years of education and engineering experience.
A sought after speaker and presenter, he has shared thoughts on topics ranging from the “Learning College” concept to strategic planning. He recently published a book chapter, titled “Strategic Planning and the Gen X President.”
Dr. Nooks earned his doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington University. He is a graduate of the Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership and a member of the inaugural cohort of the American Council on Education’s Spectrum Leadership Institute.