MLK Day of Service: Dr. Akbar

“What is your life’s blueprint?”

That is the question N.J. Akbar, assistant dean for academic diversity success, posed to the students and volunteers before Kent State’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Monday. It is the same question Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asked a group of students in 1967, six months before his assassination. 

“A blueprint, as you know, is a plan that architects …  use with all the specifications to make sure it’s strong and has all the things they need,” said Akbar. “We should think about what are the things that we need in our lives to … make us better, more sustained individuals.” 

Martin Luther King Jr.’s original speech had two factors that should be in everyone’s blueprint. 

First, a deep belief in your own dignity. Akbar reminded the audience that they matter, and what they are setting out to do is important. 

Second, self-determination to achieve the goal you were placed here to do. 

Akbar added two things to his blueprint suggestions. The first was a commitment to the principles of beauty, love and justice. The last, he decided on the spot: “To be great, and part of being great is service.” 

He asked students to reflect on what service has looked like in their lives and how it has impacted them. He then asked the crowd to think and reflect on how they can impact others with service.

“Make service a part of your blueprint,” said Akbar, “part of the fabric of who you are and what you do.”

His words resonated with volunteers as they broke into individual groups to begin the day of service. 

“His overall message of service and its importance inspired me and made me want to get to work,” said Anna Hannan, a sophomore biology major. 

Even if the cold had something to do with it, students were excited to get to their chosen workshop of the morning.

“A lot of times, service opportunities tend to push you into it,”  said Jaime Corbin, a senior child psychology major. “So it was nice to be motivated.”

Contact Kimmy Daniels at [email protected]