Skip Navigation

Student Diversity at MUSC

MLK Commemorative Program

MUSC Celebrates the 9th Annual Commemorative Program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thursday, January 15, 2015.  For more details call 843-792-2146.  Student essay submissions are due not later than Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest Flyer

2014 MLK Student Essay Contest Winners

First Place - Steven Holshouser (CGS)
Second Place -  Cameo Green (CON)
Third Place - Harry "Buddy" Blanke (COM)


Winning Essay

Steven Holshouser - Watch the Winning Essay

January 8th, 2014 Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. Student Essay

“ The Ultimate Measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."  -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


The morning of January 15, 1929 marks the birth of one of the most inspiring and influential people in history, Dr. Martin Luther King. The life of Dr. King was an extraordinary one. His life was one filled with passion and dedication for something he loved. Not many people on this earth would go through the trials and tribulations that he endured.  Since Dr. King was born, his entire life was devoted to the wellness and betterment of not only minorities around him, but also the right and freedoms of humanity as a whole. Starting out as a Pastor in Montgomery, AL, King began his journey preaching about the importance of love, acceptance and equality as well as reducing hate.

Dr. King was a man of powerful words. There are endless quotes that he came up with to put words in a form that were more powerful than any weapon created.  Throughout his life a question that was always trivial to Dr. King was, “how do people react when their whit is tested?” Although Dr. King grew in the ranks among the minority favorites through boycotting and public preaching he faced tough times that many people would not be able to handle. Documentation shows that Dr. King was arrested around twenty times and assaulted at least four times through his protesting and speaking. All of the hate and violence of a world divided set Dr. King up for something he could not have imagined. After catching the attention of the entire world through the letters written in a Birmingham jail after a massive protest in Alabama, Dr. King changed everything. He altered not only Americans and their opinion of the segregation war, but he also shocked people around the world by showing what one dedicated man could do in the face of extreme adversity.

Dr. King was not a man who ever lived a moment in comfort. He never lived in the shadows, in the dark, or silent, but more so in the light, boisterous and exalted. The legacy of Dr. King not only shows what one man can accomplish, but what a group of people working together for one common goal can achieve. In order to change, people must not be afraid to step out of their comfort zone and never let down from what they believe in.  Dr. King demonstrated this through many protests and marches, “ we must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools”. Dr. King said this to signify that if people don’t unite and all do what is right, we will all fall. Even though some live peacefully and help others, this is not enough. It takes all of us doing what is right, even in times of struggle, to make a change. If Dr. King and his supporters would have chosen only to show what they believed when they had the spotlight on them, and not give in at any point to what the normal status quo was, we would not be where we are today. Dr. King really changed the world and showed everyone what the true meaning of his purpose when he said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, But where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  No one on this earth can live up to this quote, nor has been more influential in our lives as Dr. King.

Of the countless number of inspiring and amazing quotes Dr. King left us with, this one to me, is the most influential. The phrase means so much to me not only in my daily life, but also in my profession as a scientist.  When I came to graduate school here at MUSC, everyone signed an oath on the first day. In order for science to keep further developing and cures to keep being discovered, ethics and truth must be upheld no matter what. In today’s economy, funding is tough and very hard to come by, which can put tons of pressure on people to bend the rules. Dr. King’s quote goes hand in hand here as well. As not only I, but countless others in the healthcare field will be faced with a choice similar to this in the future.  They must ask themselves to define the line between right and wrong just as Dr. King did and make a choice about what they are going to do when times become very difficult.  This truly is the “Ultimate measure” of a person.

Not only did Dr. King influence race congregation, patriotism and unity, but he also preached about human kind and how we were meant to live as free people, free to do as we choose.  The entire human race heard his words. Dr. King’s philosophy went hand in hand with other activists such as Mahatma Gandhi whose greatest cause is life. Gandhi taught us,“ Where there is love, there is life”. It is as if Dr. King continued Gandhi’s legacy and allowed the whole world to see that a free life is the only acceptable way to live.  Dr. King followed this by saying, “ Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate” only love can do that.”

Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize along with 54 thousand dollars, upon which he donated all of it to the furtherance of civil rights. A man so devoted to what he believes in was assassinated on the balcony of a hotel in Tennessee. Dr. King’s influence on life as well as how we choose to live it is as ever-present today as it ever was.  His words will never be forgotten nor his ideas ever fade. It takes a man who has no prize to win, no dollar amount to gain, and who lives his entire life based upon love to truly change the world for the better. With that, I leave this question to you, given the right of having the freedom to choose, what will you do in times of challenge and controversy?

Second Place

Cameo Aleece Green, RN, MSN

January 6, 2014

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Essay Contest

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an assiduous leader and catalyst for change, provided a peaceful anecdote to promote the integration of the American society, as well as, the inequality that existed for people of color. In order to fully fathom Dr. King’s legacy, one must understand his significance during the American Civil Rights Movement.  A civil war was looming in America, which could have possibly led to the downfall of the strongest nation in the world. America was about to become divided.  Dr. King knew that “united we would stand, but divided we would fall.” Dr. King’s solution prevented a war between the races, as well as, outside interference from nations willing to support any turmoil on America’s soil. During the Cold War era, the Soviet Union would have enjoyed an internal war between the people of color and White America. Dr. King, a catalyst for peace, averted violent actions that could have severely weakened the fibers that America was built upon. Today, America has an annual commemoration on the third Monday in January, in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. However, to fully embrace the legacy of Dr. King, an individual must appreciate that he placed holding the union, America, together at all costs. 

Based on the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” written in August of 1963, Dr. King provided the building blocks that could lead to a harmonious society where the ills of poverty and despair are nonexistent. The first building block that he mentioned was to “determine whether injustices are alive.”  Based on the first building block, if an injustice is found alive and thriving, we as a society must use all peaceful means necessary to correct the injustice. A society cannot apathetically look away and morally justify an action that could be detrimental to an underrepresented population. Society must examine the equity of capital distribution within their communities. For example, on present day minimum wage, can an individual or a family live at a standard that they personally would desire? Can an individual receive the same education or healthcare opportunities in a society that adheres to class boundaries? Do we find disproportionate suffering within that group? A group or a society that answers “yes” to these questions must come to the determination that injustices are still present.

The second building block provided would be “self-purification.” Dr. King, one of six African Americans among hundreds at the integrated Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, had to constantly go through the self-purification process.  A catalyst for change in any society has to go through a process of analytical absorption, where an immersion occurs, between the catalyst and the society that needs to be changed. The catalyst or humanitarian must address his or her prejudices, biases, and feelings towards those they are trying to change. Without fully analyzing and understanding how you coexist with the ones you desire to change, as a catalyst, you will fall short. Once the humanitarian, has obtained a level of self-purification, then he or she can proceed to adding the next block.

A society can constantly groan and complain about issues they have found to be unjust or they can take a direct action. Dr. King, an agent for change, organized sit-ins, demonstrations, wrote letters, and engaged in other aspects of civil disobedience. To change a society, direct action has to be implemented to bring attention to the focus areas needing to be improved. Society today has various online search engines and social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, and other resources that enables communication.  In today’s society, a computer technician has as much power as a group with signs picketing in front of a building. Within this building block, Dr. King eliminated all excuses for unjust actions not being addressed by spectators of the inequalities. Dr. King emphasized a moral responsibility of all citizens to break inequitable laws, but in a nonviolent manner. Websites, search engines, and other forms of media can give the novice humanitarian a megaphone for justice, which qualifies as a direct action.  Direct actions must be relentless, untiringly, and determined.  The group or societal areas that warrant improvement or change should recognize that the catalyst will fight until the very end.  

The final building block will only come after the direct actions have been proven to be able to resist the winds of times. If the society or area that needs to be changed has any knowledge regarding corrective actions, they will conclude that negotiation would be better than destruction.  America recognized that during a time when communism was on an equal playing field, the alternatives offered by Dr. King, would be less divisive and destructive to the “Union.” White America was willing to draw a chair to the table of racial harmony. Dr. King and others through negotiation were able to secure the keys for some individuals to enter the door of equality and justice. A brief glimpse, however, in today’s society would quickly show that the negotiations for more keys and more catalysts are needed and will be needed, unless the entire American society goes through the process of self-purification. As a catalyst for change, Dr. King, through the self-purification process, had to realize that one day he may have to sacrifice his life, but he was willing and prepared to do just that.

Through the centuries, humanity has been given blueprints for racial harmony. From the teachings of Jesus Christ to Dr. King’s March on Washington, a bar for social justice, equality, and fair economic livelihood has been set for humanity to reach. Presently, dedicated humanitarians are still needed due to the presence of murders in our communities, children suffering from starvation, and wars upon wars. Dr. King, a transformational leader and speaker, used a conglomeration of various nonviolent measures to civilly defy regulations that encased inequalities. During his tenure as a civil rights leader, from December 1955 until April 4th, 1968, Dr. King educed his inspiration for peaceful demonstrations from his Christian faith and past experiences under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi. The legacy of Dr. King has taught society the effectiveness of words, instead of violence, while endeavoring to create a change. From an epidemiological standpoint, Dr. King has shown all healthcare professionals, despite of their respected disciplines, the importance of treating all patients equitable regardless of their socioeconomic status.  In essence, Dr. King’s legacy is a prime example of one person creating a stupendous impact on humanity.

Third Place

Martin Luther King, Jr’s legacy and impact on humanity

An essay submitted by Buddy Blanke, MUSC COM1

            Two score and ten years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. uttered the words of the “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  The speech is richly endowed with context as it came five score years after President Abraham Lincoln’s iconic “Gettysburg Address”.  Lincoln’s proposition—and steeled by Martin Luther King’s vision—that our “nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”, could not long endure unless we make good on that fundamental ideal.  And yet it is ironic and true that the new nation created by our founding fathers four score and seven years before Lincoln’s speech laid aside the slavery issue for future generations, because it’s abolishment—at the time—would have negated the American compact before it had begun.

            Context in this respect is thus: our founding fathers brought forth a nation—flawed with the stain of slavery but conceived in the ideal of equal rights for all; Lincoln ably corrected the flaw by legally abolishing slavery, but could not guarantee equality; a hundred years later, King eloquently and ardently fought and won civil rights for us all, forging a path toward true equality by embracing the cause of equal rights for all men and women; and now it is our challenge, opportunity, and moral imperative to strengthen his purpose for our nation, achieving strength through diversity, and serving others to benefit humanity.  A cruder analogy would liken our founding fathers to scientists of government who discovered the new applied science of democracy; Lincoln became democracy’s foremost scientific practitioner by distilling its fundamental principles; but Martin Luther King, Jr., became the chief engineer to apply science for the good of all people; and we must become the technologists who make MLK’s engineering design actionable for all.  We must make good on the groundwork laid by MLK, and our work is not nearly done.

            A few years ago, a Martin Luther King Day program slogan read,  “MLK Day is not a day off, it is a day on.”  And so shall it be.  MLK Day may be a Federal holiday and we may not have classes, but we should be thinking about ways to make good on his legacy every day.  We all need to be cognizant of and ask ourselves how can WE identify and eliminate racial, ethnic, gender, age, sexual orientation, religious, and other biases that denigrate diversity, our nation’s keystone and calling card to democracy.  How can WE ensure for ourselves, our friends and families, and our children’s children, that they can sit down to Martin Luther King, Junior’s envisioned “table of brotherhood” (and sisterhood) and share equally of the promise of our great nation?

We need look no further than our own institution for vision and guidance to proceed with this unifying mission.  MUSC is making good to further MLK’s legacy every day through its visionary diversity program.  I feel blessed to be at MUSC because of the strength of this program.  I, and many others, would not be here, were it not for the strength, clarity of purpose, and far-reaching vision of that program.  MUSC promotes Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision through its manifold daily mission encompassing admissions, diversity training, cultural sensitivity, and educational endeavors.  Clearly, diversity is not confined to a once-a-year MLK Day or event.  As Aristotle has taught us, excellence is a habit, not a one-time thing.  And thus, the path of true change is not a one-time occurrence; it is a daily mission with continuity that goes on for years—and MUSC is firmly fixed on that path. 

And what should we take from and do with this?  We—who would not be here today were it not for the diversity program—should pay it forward by selecting careers that honor MLK’s legacy of serving others.  Some may choose to serve the needy in their local communities while others may serve global health needs in foreign countries.  While each of us chooses his or her own path, each will be united in providing the best healthcare void of bias to the public.  MUSC is teaching us all to be sensitive to the healthcare needs of others while working to identify and eliminate healthcare disparities.  MUSC is teaching us to be culturally sensitive to those communities in need, so that we may better serve their healthcare needs.  What better way to serve the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., than to instill equality through our delivery of healthcare to the community?

In this respect, Martin Luther King, Junior’s message for us is: think global but act local.  We cannot each rule the world today just yet, but through our daily action, we can spread the word.  We can change the culture and environment in which we live to be more inclusive and more caring.  These good works will become as desired as America is the desired nation for all who are oppressed.  Let us not wait another 100 years for another visionary leader to bring us the agenda for change.  The time is now for us to recognize ways we can all serve today for the betterment of humanity, and carry the message, legacy, and vision of Martin Luther King, Junior forward to the world of tomorrow.  

Code Diversity
left to right –

© Medical University of South Carolina | Disclaimer