Traveling exhibit honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Students Cheryl Collins and Elizabeth Netherton (left photo) and Benal Ortman take in the visiting MLK Legacy exhibition in Ivy Tech Kokomo Campus’ Student Commons

Ivy Tech Kokomo’s Cheryl Collins earns award in ARTIvism exhibition

Professor Amber Williams and student artist Cheryl Collins

KOKOMO – Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region student Cheryl Collins of Kokomo is one of three Ivy Tech students statewide honored with scholarship awards as part of Ivy Tech Community College’s Inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Project. A traveling exhibit of the student work is on display this week in the Student Commons at Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Campus, 1815 E. Morgan St.

Collins earned second prize in the legacy project, an ARTIvism exhibition that honors the legacy of Dr. King, with her collage of an original photograph of the MLK memorial in Washington D.C. and a poem the memorial inspired her to write. All Ivy Tech students were invited to participate in the exhibit by submitting artwork created to honor Dr. King’s legacy. ARTIvism combines “art” and “activism” and is created to increase social, environmental and technical awareness of communities through the medium of art.

The exhibit, which has been touring Ivy Tech campuses across the state since Jan. 17, also features work by Kokomo Region students Jossie Helmerick of Windfall, Matthew Nelson of Logansport, and Shaun Sefton of Kokomo. The exhibit is open to the public and can be viewed, free of charge.

Collins said she took the photograph during a sightseeing break while in Washington D.C. for the 2016 international conference of Phi Theta Kappa, the international academic honor society for community college students. She has been active in PTK since earning membership in the fall of 2014 and said the participation in the organization “has really shaped and enhanced my college experience,” with opportunities to travel to New Mexico and all over the state of Indiana as well.

Amber Williams, an assistant professor of Psychology who serves as contact advisor for the Kokomo chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, was on the same visit to the MLK memorial, and as Williams gazed at the statue, Collins captured the picture that would become the background for her ARTIvision submission.

Now working to finish her associate degree in Nursing, Collins returned to college as an adult student in 2013, nine years after graduating from high school. Along with her commitment to her education, she is raising a six-year-old daughter and helps take care of her grandmother. She is resolved that Ivy Tech is the foundational step to reaching her goal of becoming a medical doctor.

“Ultimately, I believe everyone really is equal at the core,” she said, “and that’s what drove the poem as I considered how I interpret social change in the spirit of MLK. We need to stop looking at skin color as something that defines a person at all. There’s no substance behind it.

“I recognize a fellow pacifist in the words of Dr. King,” she continued. “He uses the words ‘peace’ and ‘love’ over and over. I don’t have the solution to dissolve racial tensions in our world. But I know it starts with those words.”

Eighty students submitted artwork for the juried exhibit and scholarships were awarded for first, second and third place Best in Show creations with the theme of “Moving Forward,” in the spirit of Dr. King. First place went to Emerald Green of the Southwest Region and third went to Katie Wheeler, Jazz Miller, Jerika Thomas, and Noah Brown of the Southern Indiana Region.


About Ivy Tech Kokomo Region

Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region serves Cass, Fulton, Howard, Miami, and Tipton counties and includes campuses or instructional sites in the communities of Kokomo, Logansport, Peru, and Rochester. Ivy Tech serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association. For more information, visit
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