MLK ‘Dreamer Award’ recognizes service of OU faculty

Lauren Reid, Staff Reporter

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The Greater Pontiac Community Coalition (GPCC) recognized Oakland University’s Teresa Rodges and David Strubler with the “Dreamer Award” on Monday, Jan. 20. during its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day luncheon. The award is given by the GPCC to those making a difference in the community.

According to the coalition’s website, the GPCC “is a federation of over 190 Oakland County individuals, community groups, businesses, politicians and clergy who have pooled their resources and talents to address the needs of individuals and the community.”  

Rodges, who serves as interim director of pre-college programs and coordinator for community service partnerships at OU, was recognized for her dedicated service in Pontiac for a number of years. She is the chair of the board for the Pontiac Promise Zone (PPZ), which works to provide young adults with an education and various apprenticeships through financial assistance. Since the PPZ began in 2009, they have awarded over $1 million in scholarships. 

“We have an obligation to identify, reengage and encourage students to take full advantage of pre-college programs, tuition scholarships and post-secondary education, which closes educational equity gaps,” Rodges said. 

Rodges works to advise, coach and tutor students, along with providing financial assistance, to ensure they will be successful in their endeavors. 

“I just have a passion for helping,” Rodges said. “I love dreaming programs and bringing them to reality. Martin Luther King Jr. Day provides an opportunity for me to continue to dream what is possible and to know that nothing is impossible.”

Strubler, an organizational leadership professor, is trying to make a difference with his current project, The Talent Development Coalition.

“It started out as a dream to hire underemployed young people (pre-apprentices) to build small homes for people in need and to provide a workforce for the construction industry,” Strubler said. “Pastor Douglas Jones of the Greater Pontiac Community Coalition expanded the vision to include advanced manufacturing, medical and IT and business, and now we have four teams working together to create new workforce development programs.” 

Strubler is also an advocate for interdependence among community organizations. He mentioned that when people work together, they can “create solutions for a purpose greater than themselves.” 

The “Dreamer Award” means a lot to Strubler, especially because it comes from Pontiac — where he was born. 

OU students interested in community involvement should have a chance in the future. As programs grow, opportunities to work with young people from Pontiac and Oakland County in certain fields — like Health Science— are on the way, as mentioned by Strubler. Additional information on these opportunities is to come.

For more information on the PPZ and GPCC respectively, visit their websites