Keeper of the Dream award recipient shares thoughts on interracial issues

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Photo courtesy of OU News

The 30th annual Keeper of the Dream recipients. Isabella Mahuad (upper right), gives some insight into the award’s impact.

Rachel Yim, Senior Reporter

The Keeper of the Dream (KOD) Scholarship Awards at Oakland University celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Established in January of 1993, the KOD Scholarship Award honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in the Civil Rights Movement, and recognizes individuals who demonstrate strong leadership qualities and involvement on campus and in the community by being proactive with the deconstruction of cultural and racial stereotypes as well as contributing in the creation of a diverse campus community.

The honor of the 2022 KOD Scholarship Award went to seven OU students, including: Azana Jones, Destiny Williams, Isabella Mahuad, Kelly Knight, Keyara Pepper-Cameron, Markeal Williams and Ta’Niyah Harris, each of them receiving $5,000.

One of the recipients of the award is Isabella Mahuad, a junior double majoring in international relations and Spanish.

“I’m very grateful and excited to be receiving this award,” Mahuad said. “It’s great to know that I’ve made a positive impact in my time at Oakland.”

RY: How do you think you demonstrated each criterion required for this scholarship: campus involvement and responsible citizenship?

IM: I am currently President of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO) and Vice-President of the Model UN Club. I’m also a member of the Honors College and Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society. As far as on-campus jobs, I have been a Success Coach and Orientation Group leader in the past, and I am currently an Orientation/FYAC Assistant, as well as a Political Science Research Assistant.

RY: What kind of messages did you intend to deliver through your personal essay?

A: I tried to use my essay to make a point of how diversity plays a part in everything you do. For me, promoting diversity doesn’t just happen in designated spaces for promoting diversity. My essay specifically focused on the way it affects how I approach my major, my jobs and my e-board positions.

RY: There are a variety of disparities that exist in our society despite constant effort in promoting equality. What kind of disparities do you think need the most attention from people and what do you think will be the most efficient solution to address these issues in the long run?

IM: Unfortunately, there are a lot of issues worldwide, and they tend to be interconnected and affect one another. Given how complicated they are, it’s really difficult to come up with a single straightforward solution. However, I do think that actually listening to communities most directly harmed and giving them a voice in how the solution should be approached is incredibly important.

RY: Since you come from an Hispanic background, was there any time or incident where you faced cultural barriers, any type of discrimination or role conflict in your life? If so, what was it and how did you cope with the situation and overcome it?

IM: Being Lebanese as well as Latine made it so my experience was a little different in that way. People don’t usually realize I’m Latine until I tell them. However, in school my teachers would assume I wasn’t as capable as other students because they knew I spoke Spanish at home. It took a lot of work from my family to ensure I was being placed correctly.

RY: How do you plan on spending your scholarship and what are your plans after graduation?

IM: I plan on putting the full scholarship toward my classes. I’ve been really interested in research, so I hope to continue to grad school after graduation. I really like working with people and helping others, so I hope to go into a career that gives me those opportunities.

RY: Lastly, is there anything you’d like to say to the OU community?

IM: I would recommend getting involved with the CMI for any students interested. They are a fantastic office with so many resources for students, KOD is only one of the many forms of support they offer.

The Awards celebration will take place from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17 in the O’Rena with Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actor Anthony Anderson as the keynote speaker. For more information, visit the Center for Multicultural Initiatives website.