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Asif Razak
January 22, 2019 : Community, Ohio Southern Join to Celebrate MLK’s Vision “Humanity Tied to a Single Garment of Destiny”
Ohio University Southern’s Bowman Auditorium was filled Thursday evening with a shared message of unity, communication and respect as part of the 27th Annual Community Celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event, sponsored by Southern’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion, featured music, guest speakers, and video excerpts of several of King’s historic speeches.
Katrina Keith, mayor of Ironton, spoke about the diversity of Appalachia as something to be celebrated. She challenged the audience, which included dozens of high school and university students to find what they are passionate about and work toward it. “What is it you are called to do? You can do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t,” Keith said.
Asif RazakAsif Razak, a chiropractor, shared his experience growing up in Ashland, Kentucky as a “Hillbilly Pakistani.” The son of immigrants who moved to the U.S. in 1984, Razak recounted his journey of attending public schools and feeling welcomed. “Nobody made me feel different” even though his family culture and customs were unlike those of his classmates, he said.
Razak described his choice to pursue a degree in health care in the early 2000’s, when the region’s opioid issues were first beginning. He wanted to have an impact on the community and reflected on the exodus of his peers who left the Tri-State after high school. He asked himself, “Could I change that narrative?” Razak said his mother advised him to follow his heart and he returned to Ashland after completing his chiropractic degree in St. Louis to serve patients without narcotics. He described finding courage to embrace diversity and to “never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”
Deanna Holliday, Lawrence County Commissioner, urged the audience to focus on communication and respect when dealing with differences and disputes. Holliday cited Dr. King’s work in the Civil Rights Movement as an example of hope and direction to “find courage to speak up when we have differing opinions and to seek protests with the absence of violence.”
Hayley Mitchell Haugen, Ph.D.Hayley Mitchell Haugen, Ph.D., an associate professor of English at OHIO Southern, announced the winners of the annual MLK Essay Contest for Tri-State area students.  Winners of the middle school division included: 1st Place- Anna Davis, “Dreams Do Come True,” Ironton Middle School’; 2nd Place- Laikyn Conroy, “Justice for Injustice,” Ironton Middle School; 3rd Place-Cami Stevens, “Hopes and Dreams for the World,” Ironton Middle School.
Essay contest winners of the high school division included: Katherine Scott, “I Am,” Dawson Bryant High School; 2nd Place- Tabitha Caskey, “Who Am I?,” Ironton High School; and 3rd Place- Jillian Aylsworth, “Who Am I?,” South Point High School.
Robert Pleasant, associate director of OHIO Southern’s Student Resource Commons and coordinator of the celebration, said the university is pleased to host the annual event which brings together diverse groups. “It is our hope we can use this event to learn and understand from one another and to celebrate our uniqueness,” Pleasant said.

Essay contest winners
Ohio Southern MLK Essay Contest winners:  (L-R) Dr. Salome Nnoromele, Associate Dean, High School Division winners Tabitha Caskey- 2nd place, South Point High School; Jillian Aylsworth, 3rd Place, South Point High School; Middle School Division winners Anna Davis, 1st Place, Ironton Middle School; Laikyn Conroy, 2nd Place, Ironton Middle School; and Cami Stevens, 3rd Place, Ironton Middle School.  Not pictured: High School Division winner Kathrine Scott, 1st Place, Dawson Bryant High School.


Teresa McKenzie

Teresa McKenzie of Ashland offered the Litany as part of the 27th Annual Community Celebration of the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. McKenzie serves as the Accessibility Services and Veterans Services Coordinator for Ohio University Southern.

Ironton High School Varsity Singers

The Ironton High School Varsity Singers under the direction of Kathryn Price, provided music at the 27th Annual Community Celebration of the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Ohio University Southern.