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My MLK Reflections | A Letter from Mykala Sandifer

Mykala Sandifer, Director of Inclusive Programs and Talent Development at KU Alumni, shares her thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

A recent tweet by Bernice King (the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.) resonated differently this year as I reflect on the life of Dr. King and how we celebrate his legacy. “Service + systematic/structural change” … sparked thoughts about myself and my role within our Association. I considered the opportunity in front of me, in front of our organization, to really reflect on who we are and ground ourselves in who we want to be. While the words sound so clear and distinct, what does this actually mean? What does this look like? 

Some may ask, what’s wrong with the way it’s always been? What does change mean? How do we, as an organization rooted in such great pride, tradition and legacy, take a step back and assess the impact of our established culture for all Jayhawks? Dr. King’s conviction empowered him to challenge systems built in division instead of unity. As we see, feel and experience the impact of the world happening around us, we as an Association, want to be thoughtful, intentional and committed to creating the culture we want to permeate throughout our campus and our larger global Jayhawk community. But where do we start? We know evolution takes time. We know words alone will not get the job done, but we are committed to something bigger where all Jayhawks feel they belong.

Mykala Sandifer

  1. Ask: Our ability to understand is limited by what we choose to ask. As an Association, we want to ask questions that will inform us, stretch us and cause us to think deeper and harder about how we create an inclusive environment for all Jayhawks.
  2. Listen: Listening is a skill that requires a deeper level of care than simply hearing. We want to create space for experiences, feedback and insights to guide how we show up and continue to evolve as an Association. 
  3. Embrace: We choose to receive experiences, feedback and insights that we may or may not hold to be our own. Our Jayhawk experiences might look different, but they are embraced, and we hold space for them.
  4. Act: Collective conversations provide insight and understanding into what we do well and where we have room to evolve as a Jayhawk community. Those conversations can be leveraged as a springboard to move in accordance with our values and mission as an organization through intentional action.

Being a Jayhawk is an identity I possess and hold dear, as it has shaped my experiences, opportunities, and relationships prior to ever stepping foot on KU’s campus. I am excited to serve my university in this capacity and am committed to carrying forward the dream of Dr. King through advocacy, action and care for my beloved Jayhawk community. Rock Chalk! 

On this day of remembrance, reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what his life’s work has done to inspire inclusion and connectivity “with all peoples, to shape a new world.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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