Florida Tech Celebrates MLK at Community Event Thursday

University Will Present
Pioneer, Bridge Builder Awards

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech will celebrate the life and achievements of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, in the Hartley Room of the Denius Student Center on the university’s Melbourne campus.

Florida Tech President Dwayne McCay will join other university and community leaders at the free public event, hosted by the Florida Tech Alumni Association.

The agenda includes a presentation of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by orator Leonard Ross, a keynote address by Carolyn Farrior, ordained minister and associate pastor at Greater Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Melbourne, and the presentation of the university’s Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award and Dr. Harvey L. Riley Bridge Builder Award.

The Honorable Rhonda E. Babb will be the recipient of the Pioneer Award, named for Florida Tech’s first African-American student. A native of Trinidad, Babb immigrated to the U.S. with her family in 1971, settling in Brooklyn, New York.

After earning an academic scholarship to Wellesley College, Babb graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature and African American studies. She received her Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School in 1984.

Babb then worked as an attorney and administrative law judge in New York. In the mid-1990s, she came to Florida. From 1994 to 2002, she served as a litigator for Central Florida Legal Services. She practiced state, federal and administrative law at both trial and appellate levels developing expertise on landlord/tenant, consumer and special education issues. In 2002, then-Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Babb to the county court bench. She continues to serve as a county court judge in the 18th Judicial Circuit in Viera.

Babb has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades, including the Pace Setter Award for Distinguished Accomplishment and Outstanding Service to Brevard County in 2004 and the Outstanding Achievement Award for Contributions to the Legal Profession from the Caribbean Bar Association in 2006. In 2010, she received the In Appreciation for Services to Acolytes honor from Greater Allen Chapel AME Church in Melbourne.

Pastor Jarvis Wash will be presented the Rev. Harvey L. Riley Bridge Builder Award, which recognizes success in community activism and improvement.

Born in Oakland, California, Wash did not allow challenging circumstances to determine his fate. Instead, according to his biography, “he used the adverse urban experiences of Oakland to renegotiate his purpose and propel his career to one based on serving and giving back to those in disadvantaged communities.”

Wash has certainly done just that. He is the founder and senior pastor of The R.E.A.L. Church, Inc., in Cocoa, which stands for Reaching, Equipping, Affecting Lives for Christ.

A 2014 recipient of LEAD Brevard’s 4 Under 40 honor, Wash has spent years empowering at-risk youth and others in the Cocoa area and beyond with a series of outreach initiatives extending from his church. He developed My Community Cares, which focuses on promoting “healing through educating, empowering and equipping the ‘entire man’ practically, emotionally, economically, socially, and spiritually.”

Programs under My Community Cares include The S.P.O.T. – a Special Place for Our Teens. Working with several community partners, this initiative provides a safe haven for young people after school and in the summer with educational programs, basketball tournaments, dance contests, free meals and more. The S.P.O.T. has helped feed over 4,000 kids.

My Community Cares also includes S.M.I.L.E., a support group dedicated to researching, obtaining and sharing information and resources to single mothers and single parents.

The keynote speaker, Carolyn Farrior, is director of admissions for online learning and off-campus programs at Florida Tech. She has been with the university for 34 years, serving in the Registrar’s Office, Graduate Admissions and Extended Studies prior to her position in Online Learning.

In addition to serving as associate pastor at Greater Allen Chapel AME Church, Farrior is director of Christian education, and she currently runs a youth Bible academy.

RSVPs to the event are requested as space is limited. Please RSVP to rsvp@fit.edu or by calling 321-674-6826.


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