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January 19, 2021

Seven Students to be Honored at Virtual Martin Luther King, Jr.
Scholarship Event, Briggs to Receive Legacy Award


Moreno Valley College's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship event will be held on January 20 at 3 pm. The ML King, Jr. event had become the College's signature event with past breakfasts selling out at the Moreno Valley Recreation Center.

This year, due to COVID restrictions, the event has moved to a virtual format. To register for the event, click here.

Three MVC students and four local high school students will be honored with scholarships. The college students competed in a speech competition and the high school students competed in an essay competition. This year's theme is The Winds of Change: Addressing Opportunity Gaps.

Cordell Briggs, Ph.D.
Cordell Briggs, Ph.D.

In addition to honoring the students, Cordell Briggs, Ph.D., English, who retired after 29-plus years with the District, will be honored with the College's MLK Legacy Award. He'll join a long list of distinguished community members who have been honored with the MLK Legacy Award. He will also deliver the keynote speech.

Briggs, who retired in December 2019, as a professor of English, joined Riverside Community College District in 1988. He taught English and served as an administrator in a number of roles during his 28-plus year tenure. Born and raised in Augusta, GA, Briggs received his bachelor's degree in English from Oakwood College in Huntsville, AL and a master's degree in English from Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. He went on to earn a doctoral degree in English, with emphases in sociolinguistics and African American literature, from Howard University, in Washington, DC.

Before joining Riverside Community College District, Briggs was an associate professor of English at Loma Linda University, La Sierra campus (now La Sierra University) in Riverside. His teaching and research interests involved examining writers' use of language variation in African American literary texts and linguistic diversity in the Riverside area.

Overall, he spent over 31-plus years in education.


MLK Scholarship Ceremony
MLK Scholarship Ceremony

Moreno Valley College Speech Competition Winners

Chine Ehiemere, a sociology major at the College, earned the $1,000 scholarship. Ehiemere will transfer to UC Riverside for the spring semester. She enjoys learning about different society groups—men, women, people of various races, and marginalized and privileged individuals in addition to the way individuals and families navigate living in this country. She has an interest in working with people whether it be on the micro or macro level. She plans to earn a master's degree with the hope of becoming a licensed clinical social worker. In her free time, she enjoys running and anything that has to do with words. She is also an avid book reader and learner of languages. Currently, she is learning Korean and hopes to learn Spanish in the future. She says, she is overly obsessive, rating each movie she watches and spends lots of time searching music databases for new artists and genres.

Mahrya Guzman is one of two winners of a $500 scholarship. Guzman says, all of her life she had been told she would never equate to anything after growing up in foster care. She said she felt her life was ruined due to her mom being incapable of taking care of her and her six siblings. However, in reality, her mom was not given the resources and services to help her take care of her family; the system failed her. Guzman said her foster care experience was neither 'good nor bad.'

"I refuse to say the system let me down as it has allowed me to use the provided benefits to build my empire," said Guzman, who is majoring in social work. She says in some ways, social work chose her.

"Often I ponder what career I would have been interested in if I never was placed in foster care," she said. "Being placed in the system inspired me to become a child welfare social worker because multiple social workers and various placements showed me how broken the system is. My experience led me to pursue my education in social work as I am currently working on transferring to a CSU to achieve a bachelor's degree in social work. This will help me be a light in former and current foster youths' darkness; I will use my light to change lives. Are you ready for a change?"

Marina Gonzalez, winner of the other $500 scholarship, is from a small town in Oklahoma, where there were countless cow and horse pastures, even one adjacent to her high school. Gonzalez said there were many academic opportunities in order to pursue higher education. As such, she moved to California to pursue a degree in chemical engineering and computer science. She will transfer to the UC Riverside campus in the fall of 2022. During her free time, she likes to play the cello.

Gonzalez is also gifted in digital art which has led her to develop a partnership with Snapchat and Samsung. She creates augmented reality experiences through 3D modeling and digital design. Because of the challenges faced being a Latina woman in the STEM field, she wants to further encourage the importance of diversity in such needed areas. She hopes to advance her skills to help create life-changing experiences whether that be in art, science or technology.


High School Essay Winners

Kolani Smith - Valley View High School

Smith, Valley View High School, is a senior who has a passion for music and a desire to create change with the music. A singer, Smith plans on earning a degree in music, specifically related to singing and performing. Smith, who hopes to be a student abroad, has a passion for learning about Asian cultures.

"I am a person of Faith, and am proud of who I am," Smith said. "I am an open-minded person and try my best to accept others for who they are. (At the same time), I am dedicated and determined to reach my goals, as I do not like to leave things undone. I am excited about attending college and know I will be successful."

Ahjanae Williams - Canyon Springs High School

Williams, a senior at Canyon Springs High School, has been actively involved during her high school years, working with Hospice, Black Student Union, Health Careers Academy, peer buddies, and the athletic department. Those who know her say she has the "exceptional blend of intellectual skill and social grace."

Williams' curiosity drives her academic aptitude. A dedicated student, she exhibits a willingness to perform the hard work necessary to accomplish her goals. Based on her scholastic achievements, Williams' career path is bright.

Mehreen Suzaan - Rancho Verde High School

A junior at Rancho Verde High School, Suzaan loves painting, spending time with her little sister, and the performing arts, specifically singing and dancing. Suzaan is a member of the Bangladeshi Community of the Inland Empire where she performs at events with cultural ties. A political science major, Suzaan wants to eventually be a political leader in order to advocate for change involving more protective measures for minorities in America, protecting them from discrimination and hate crimes.

"(Currently), I do what I can to help whoever I can by donating to orphanages, creating events to give back to the community, and doing my part to uplift minority voices in my community," Suzaan said.

Eddie Jay Malinao - Rancho Verde High School

Born in Orange County, Malinao, who is part Filipino and Puerto Rican, later moved to Perris. However, the transition wasn't easy.

"I went through many counseling sessions due to concerns of suicide, and to this day I attend therapy regularly," he said.

Malinao said that transitioning to Perris High School made a difference. He made better friends which resulted in better grades. Now as a student at Rancho Verde High School, Malinao aspires to be a musician and songwriter. For the last four years he has been playing the flute and participated in band classes and for the last five years he has been publishing his works online for the world to critique.