ADRIAN — An Adrian native who worked as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate and two college students considering careers in medicine are the recipients of the 2022 Lenawee County Martin Luther King Jr. Awards.
Ordinarily presented at dinner during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, for the second year in a row, the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration has been canceled due to the pandemic. Instead, the Student Service Awards and Lifetime Achievement Award recipients were announced by Adrian College, Siena Heights University, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration Committee.
John Amara Walters was posthumously named the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, while Rayvin Webber, senior AC, and Shanterra Holmes, senior SHU, are the recipients of the Student Service Awards.
A video highlighting the recipients is in the works with an expected release date of Feb. 1 to coincide with the start of Black History Month, said Andre’a Benard of the celebration committee.
Walters, 29, died October 2, 2021 in Washington, D.C. He worked as a legislative aide for Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Walters had worked on Van Hollen’s team since Van Hollen was a member of the House of Representatives.
“John was a proud Howard University graduate, a dedicated public servant and a loyal friend, with a laugh that filled the room,” Van Hollen said in a Facebook post shortly after Walters’ death. “I will always remember John for the sparkle in his eyes, his enthusiasm for everything he did and his genius. He inspired us all with his perseverance in the face of adversity – as he faced a lifelong battle with sickle cell anemia.”
Walters graduated from Adrian High School in 2010, then graduated magna cum laude from Howard University in Washington where he majored in psychology and minored in political science, according to his obituary.
While a student at Howard, he interned in Van Hollen’s House office. After Van Hollen’s election to the U.S. Senate, Walters led the senator’s correspondence program and was a subject matter expert for him on issues of judicial appointments, criminal justice reform, gun safety fire, telecommunications and digital inclusion and equity, electoral security, consumer protection. and the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Safety, Labor, U.S. Postal and Federal Employees.
“John Amara has fought and lived for social betterment with substantial impact since childhood,” his obituary read.
From the age of 7, Walters became like a grandson to civil rights icon Rosa Parks as he attended the Pathways to Freedom program at the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute with his sister and traveled with the adolescent program. In high school, he interned for U.S. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan and graduated from the Junior Statesman of America program at Georgetown University in Washington.
“John was serious, focused and made his family and ancestors proud,” the obituary continues. “He comes from a long line of female and male business and social entrepreneurs, multi-professionals, nurses, teachers, community leaders, Tuskegee Airman’s grandfather, Texas town founders and Arkansas as well as current and historical men and women of Sierra Leone traditional chiefs/rulers of the Mofindor sub-chiefdom headquartered in Monongoh and the Banda chiefdom who were/are the rulers of the Mende Sherbro peoples. “
Holmes, the recipient of SHU’s Student Service Award, is from Flint. At Siena Heights, she majored in biology with a major in medicine and participated in student government, women’s lacrosse, the Xi Omega chapter of the Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, and Club MED. She is also a McNair Scholar and participates in the Student Support Services Program, a press release from SHU said.
Additionally, she has volunteered at the Lenawee Humane Society, Fishes and Loaves Food Pantry, Adrian Dominican Sisters Permaculture Garden, and the National Honor Society. She plans to attend graduate school and then medical school to pursue a career as an OB-GYN physician in healthcare equity.
Webber, an AC Student Service Award recipient, majored in biology and majored in biochemistry.
“It is an honor to represent Martin Luther King Jr. and to live from what he inspired to be, especially me being a black woman. I want to be able to inspire others like me to continue on this path,” said Webber said in an AC press release.
Webber, a native of Saint Louis, Missouri, came to AC to pursue her dream of becoming a pediatric neonatal oncologist. After spending nine months in the newborn intensive care unit following the birth of her brother at 23 weeks, Webber said she was able to get to know the doctors, the nurses and each child and family, and this experience led her to choose her career.
Webber has been involved in numerous organizations at AC, serving on the Board of Directors of African American Leaders Promoting Higher Achievement (ALPHA) and Vice President of the Campus Activities Network, in addition to membership in the Biology Club, Pre-Health Society, Promoting Rights of Individuals with Disabilities Everywhere and Sisters that Empower Prevail and Succeed. Webber is also a TRIO Mentor and McNair Scholar.
As a first-generation student and soon to graduate, Webber said this scholarship means a lot to her and her mom, especially in this final semester as she looks forward to medical school. She hopes to eventually land her dream job as a pediatric oncologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.