Kadeem Phillip ’13 (above) presented twice in his return to SUNY Cobleskill. Erica Cabrera: Photo
SUNY Cobleskill kicked off the Winter 2019 semester by hosting a campus-wide day of service coinciding with Martin Luther King Day. Through public discussions, alumni presentations, a keynote speech and much more, the College’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service laid a foundation for continued service-themed initiatives.
A morning forum featuring College President Marion A. Terenzio and Student Government Association President Cheyanne Matulewich was the day’s first event. President Terenzio opened the floor to members of faculty and staff to share their thoughts on MLK Day of Service, establishing a dialogue – centering around giving back and promoting campus-wide empathy – that would carry through the day.
Matulewich shared an inspiring recount of her journey to and through SUNY Cobleskill, focusing on her upbringing and overcoming obstacles that, sometimes, are beyond one’s control. “I want to be an inspiration to kids in foster care,” said Matulewich, “to be better leaders than I am. I take this day to empower the powerless and to advocate; college isn’t as scary as it seems. It is an independent step to get away from as much bad as you can.”
The forum concluded with a special guest speaker, student Rachel Blough, who shared the story of her grandfather, Dwight Blough. Presenting her original speech “One Shapes a Legacy,” Blough recalled her grandfather’s correspondence with Dr. King throughout the mid-1960s. Driven by what Rachel describes as a “passion to serve” and “a need for action and personal sacrifice,” Dwight Blough traveled to Alabama in 1965 to join Dr. King in the “Turnaround Tuesday” march, from Selma to Montgomery.
“Doctor King and my grandfather were working toward the same goals,” says Blough. “Although I never met my grandfather, he taught me that service can take any form. I want to grab hold of my grandfather’s legacy and spread love. He didn’t blast forth what he did; he felt honored to be in Dr. King’s presence and share his mission and spirit.”
Blough adds she hopes to incorporate her grandfather’s legacy into aspects of her own life. “I will use this day as a platform to continue spreading my message,” says Blough. Click here to read “One Shapes a Legacy.”
Service activities followed a campus-wide lunch. Student-athletes and public attendees joined together to organize pantry items the College is donating to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. A workshop produced blankets the College will deliver to Albany Medical Center. Volunteers braced the temperature to help the Cobleskill United Methodist Church community food pantry complete an estimated weeks’ worth of work in hours. Open dialogues and focus groups, including those led by members of the College’s Psychology faculty, invited members of the public to discussions on topics ranging from combating human trafficking to Dr. King’s vision of community inclusivity.
Also in the afternoon, alumnus and professional artist Kadeem Phillip returned to campus for the first time since graduating in 2013. In two presentations Phillip spoke of the role his artwork plays in his life, and about his process. “Happiness for me is within the process,” says Phillip, noting depression and uncertainty influence his work. “To be happy with my work, I need to be happy within the process.” Phillip wrapped up his return to campus by presenting a lucky recipient with a piece of his artwork.
Keynote speaker Dr. Jodi Merriday delivered her “Speak Truth to Power: Trending Topics in Diversity” lecture in Bouck Ballroom. With more than 25 years in higher education, and a wealth of experience presenting on trending topics in diversity and inclusion, Dr. Merriday spoke on the need for communities to establish an “authentic inclusion.” To arrive at such, says Dr. Merriday, community members must unpack their lack of understanding of those with which they have little in common. Dr. Merriday concluded her presentation by facilitating dialogue with those in attendance.
By day’s end, SUNY Cobleskill had come together as a community in a renewed commitment to service. From members of the College administration to first-year students to visiting members from our area communities, all played integral roles in helping SUNY Cobleskill honor the legacy of Dr. King.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service – by the Numbers
213 registrants and more than 175 attendees (not including children under the age of 16)
*$1,161 raised for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. This total is sufficient to allow the food bank to purchase more than 7,250 lbs. (3.63 tons) of food.
**16 blankets completed for individuals receiving care at Albany Medical Center including 11 infant blankets
51 cards created to send to the Rainbow Cards Project
More than 200 care packages distributed to SUNY Cobleskill students
More than 200 care packages valued at more than $800 contributed by US Foods
More than 200 emergency hygiene and personal care kits assembled by the Office of the Provost
*Not including funds raised by individual campus residence halls
**SGA in cooperation with Havlock Society will create additional blankets with remaining materials
SUNY Cobleskill thanks the following for their contributions:
Cobleskill Auxiliary Services, Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District, George D. Ryder Elementary School, Havlock Society, US Foods, CAPTAIN Community Human Services, Saratoga Center for the Family, Schoharie County Youth Bureau