Lakaysha Mitchell: Keeping the dream alive

Since 1993, the Keeper of the Dream award has been presented to students at Oakland University who maintain the spirit and tenacity of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of the students who was honored with this award, Lakaysha Mitchell, represents that spirit.

Mitchell, a junior social work major here at Oakland, is involved in multiple organizations on campus that maintain and help fight for the equality and diversity Dr. King fought for. From being a peer mentor at the Center for Multicultural Initiatives to being president of of the American Association of University Women, Mitchell works hard everyday to promote the values that represent the Keeper of the Dream award.

“There’s a certain genuine spirit to winners of Keeper of the Dream, they work for equality for the better of their community,” said Richard Williamson, another peer mentor at CMI. “Lakaysha can give a lot of empathy, and can meet people where they are at and help others realize their potential.”

But even in recognition, Mitchell stays humble.

“I still look at the plaque and I’m waiting for someone to call me and tell me that this is a joke,” Mitchell said regarding her winning the scholarship. In the weeks following her learning she won, Mitchell said that she was awestruck and filled with disbelief. “Finding out that I won was a mess of emotions.”

The road to becoming a Keeper of the Dream scholar involves submitting a resume, three recommendations, and a 500 word essay. After submitting those, applicants are then interviewed by a panel of representatives from multiple organizations on campus, including the CMI, the Gender and Sexuality Center and University Housing.

“Lakaysha is never afraid to speak her mind or speak up for people,” said Brendan Scorpio, Mitchell’s resident assistant last year. “She has no issue standing devoting time and energy to people that needed her help. Everything that she embodies is perfect for this award.”

Along with working at CMI, Mitchell is also doing important work as the president of the AAUW on campus which helps promote equality for women on campus by putting on programs and events for students.

“I’m proud of Oakland,” Mitchell said regarding how the university accepts diversity. “We’re not only given the platform and voice, but we are given people to help and people to listen.”

Mitchell is a strong advocate for equality and social justice, not just on OU’s campus but in the Rochester area and beyond.

“My hope is that the work we are doing now will spark change and inspire the next generation to be more kind, loving, and accepting,” she said during a speech during the Keeper of the Dream award ceremony.

If more people mirrored the compassion and drive that Mitchell shows for her community, this grand change would come about a lot sooner than the next generation.