Since 1995, Valparaiso University has presented its Martin Luther King Jr. Award to individuals and groups within the Valpo community who have made significant and lasting contributions to creating an environment where diversity is honored and respected on campus and beyond.

During the annual MLK Celebration Convocation Service on Jan. 21, the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Award was presented to Christina Crawley ’15 Hearne for her efforts to promote racial and religious equality throughout the Valparaiso community and Northwest Indiana.

Christina Crawley Hearne is a 2015 alumna who majored in social work and is the director of Valpo’s Access and Accommodations Resource Center. Christina was involved in numerous student activities and organizations dedicated to diversity and social justice, including the Black Student Organization, Latinos in Valparaiso for Excellence, and the Diversity Concerns Committee.

While a student she also began longstanding partnership with the Welcome Project. The native of Gary, Indiana, at first participated as a storyteller, sharing her life experience as an African American student and the assumptions as she came across the community and classroom settings. As the Welcome Project expanded to include the Flight Paths initiative — a digital humanities initiative to help participants, both regionally and nationally, engage and analyze factors contributing to de-urbanization and the fracturing of neighborhoods, communities, and regions in post-industrial America through the specific example of Gary, Indiana — Christina was crucial in connecting Professors Liz Wuerffel and Allison Schuette to storytellers living and working in Gary. She has since become a Welcome Project interviewer and presents with Professors Wuerffel and Schuette at regional and national conferences. Most recently, they presented at the National Humanities Conference in New Orleans.

In 2013, Christina joined a number of professors and students, on a trip to Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the 48th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march. Two years later she returned as a student leader with an even larger Valparaiso University delegation to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that historic moment in our nation’s past.

Since returning to serve her alma mater through her work with the Access and Accommodations Resource Center, Christina continues to be heavily involved with campus life. In addition to her ongoing work with Professors Liz Wuerffel and Allison Schuette, Christina is a Certified Search Process Advocate and a member of the Presidential Commission for an Inclusive Valparaiso Community.

Visit valpo.edu/mlk for more information about the Martin Luther King Jr. Award and MLK celebrations at Valparaiso University.

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