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TCC announces 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Awards

Honoring the life achievements and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Tidewater Community College annually recognizes three individuals who exemplify the civil rights leader’s dreams and goals.

The 2014 recipients, announced Thursday, are:

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Distinguished Service Award: William E. Ward, professor emeritus at Norfolk State University and former mayor of Chesapeake
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Distinguished Service Award: Ivory J. Warren, program head of Human Services on TCC’s Norfolk Campus
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship: Tatiana Britt, a TCC student majoring in biology, who lives in Chesapeake.

The three were honored at a dinner held Thursday in the new student center on TCC’s Portsmouth Campus.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award: William E. Ward

Having lived through a transformational time in American history, which included the Civil Rights Movement, William E. Ward found his calling in education and politics. Not only the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired him, “but the action and commitment of the man and the sacrifices he made.”

Ward taught history at NSU for more than 30 years. He served as mayor of the city of Chesapeake from 1990 to 2004.

“I served 14 successful years as mayor in a city that is 78 percent majority race, and I always had the strong support of the business community,” Ward said. “I always tried to be a bridge builder. I worked in the best interest of all the people in the city and became known as a man who could and would compromise.”

The son of a single mother in Charlotte County, Va., Ward attended a segregated high school and was one of a handful of classmates who graduated and went to college. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Virginia State University and later a master’s and doctorate from Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

He and his wife, Rose M. Ward, moved to Chesapeake in 1963. At that time, Chesapeake, like many cities in the South, kept African Americans from voting by means of a poll tax and literacy test. Ward was among those who vowed to change the status quo. In 1970, voters elected the first two African Americans to City Council, in part because of work done by Ward and his colleagues in the Chesapeake Men for Progress – a group of which he later became president.

“On my tombstone,” he said, “all I want are the words, ‘Public Servant.’ ”

The Wards’ son, Michael, is principal of Crestwood Middle School in Chesapeake. His daughter, Michelle Woodhouse, is provost of TCC’s Norfolk and Portsmouth campuses.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Distinguished Service Award: Ivory J. Warren

Ivory Warren regards Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as the epitome of leadership because of his commitment, sacrifice, compassion, and relentless dedication. She embodies the same qualities in taking a student-first approach to a Human Services program that has thrived under her direction.

“I tell my students that you never know who’s watching or who’s listening to you,” she said. “If you’re going to serve, you serve to the best of your abilities 110 percent. If I think of any way I can help somebody or share something with them, that’s what I do. The helper in me never fails to come out.”

Encouraging students to follow their dreams has been Warren’s hallmark since she joined TCC 15 years ago, initially as a counselor for the Women’s Center on the Norfolk Campus. That’s when she also became an adjunct faculty member, teaching classes ranging from stress management to women’s health. In 2011, still as a part-time instructor, Warren became the program head for Human Services. Two years later, she was named the first full-time faculty member for the program, which prepares students for careers in case management, community outreach and social work.

When Human Services started in 2009, it had three students. Today enrollment is nearly 400. Warren knows all of her students and their stories, as many have had to overcome homelessness, domestic violence, academic issues and financial strain to reach their potential.

“I position myself at graduation, and when I see them crying tears of joy, I’m crying, too, in celebrating with them,” she said. “I love what I do, and I have found my niche. I love working with all different types of people and helping them zero in on their strengths.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship: Tatiana Britt

Tatiana Britt wants to give back.

The TCC student who is the recipient of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Award spent much of her youth watching health professionals care for her father, Clayton, who has renal failure.

“The nurses, staff, doctors – everyone was always so friendly when he had to spend time in the hospital,” said Britt, who continues to assist her father with his regular dialysis at her family’s home. “They told me they were there because they wanted to see my father get better.”

That philosophy inspired her to study for a career as a physician’s assistant. After Britt graduates from TCC this spring, she will transfer to a four-year school and work toward her master’s. She has applied to the University of North Carolina, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Christopher Newport University. She is a 2012 graduate of Western Branch High School.

The King scholarship holds particular meaning to Britt, given how much she admires the man and his message. “I have shaped my life around the desire to be an individual who makes a difference all over the world like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other great leaders,” she wrote in her scholarship application essay.

“He was courageous,” Britt said. “He wasn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone. He kept his eyes on the prize and did so peacefully.”