Members of the Columbia College Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Committee are proud to honor the 2022 recipients of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Awards. The awards were created in 2020 to celebrate and acknowledge staff, faculty, and CC community members who reflect Dr. King’s ideals of equity, faith, nonviolence, education, love, leadership, selflessness and hope.

For this year’s awards, the committee would also like to make special recognition of the life and service of Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee ’78, who passed away Sunday at the age of 102. As one of our greatest alumni and a true national treasure, Gen. McGee lived a life of dedicated service to the U.S. Air Force, the Boy Scouts and the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity among many other organizations. We are proud to call him one of our own.

McGee’s commitment to education lives on in the Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee Scholarship, which he established in 2009 to help qualified veteran students achieve their education goals. Each year, the award recognizes the efforts of veteran students who embody the spirit and courage of Gen. McGee in his or her service and pursuit of education. Learn more at

“I am extremely proud to join the Columbia College family and be part of the presentation of these awards to these deserving nominees,” said Alejandra Gudiño, who officially began her duties this past Monday as the college’s new full-time director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “This is one of the many initiatives the DE&I Committee has put in place over the last several years, and I am excited to join them to continue to improve our community.”

A pair of awards – one for a member of the Columbia College community and one for a student, faculty, or staff organization – are given to honor those who make our communities a better place through service and volunteerism.

Children of God reunion

The organization award winner is Children of God, a group of pioneering alumni who graduated from CC in the early 1970s, during the transition from Christian College to Columbia College when the school, city and nation were emerging from the civil rights era. These scholars integrated the student body of Columbia College and, throughout their matriculation, laid a foundation of excellence, love and support for all students of color. While in college, they gravitated toward the piano and their shared loved of gospel music.

They formed the “Children of God” choir that performed on campus and in local churches. This past October during Homecoming weekend, more than a dozen members of the group returned to campus for a reunion. During that event, they announced formation of the African American Legacy Award of Excellence, a fund that will help support rising African American upper-class students who demonstrate a financial need.

The individual winner is Andy Upham, an advisor in the college’s TRIO Student Support Services office, which helps first-generation and low-income students and students with disabilities earn their degrees in the college’s Day Program. While the very work he does within the TRiO program is in line with the spirit of Dr. King, Andy has consistently volunteered for many things, including CC’s Impact Club, which encourages students to be leaders in their community and to help them recognize the inequities within their community. He has been involved with the Salvation Army bell-ringing and gift shop efforts annually, and has been a long-time Boy Scout leader.

“His guidance and desire to be of service is always at play,” read his nomination. “He is eager to jump in and help and work toward the betterment of individuals and our community. If there’s a need and Andy knows about it, you can count on him to step up!”

Andy Upham, Trio SSS

“We are pleased to recognize the Children of God and Andy Upham with the Martin Luther King Jr. Service award for the impact they have made on CC,” said DE&I Committee Chair Andi Kenuam. “For the last three years, the opportunity to honor those who are committed to making the college a safe and welcoming space for all people has been one of the major highlights of the committee’s efforts.”

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To learn more about the awards and submit a nomination for next year, (self-nominations are encouraged), click here.

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