Corsicana, TX – January 20, 2016 – Reverend Dr. Brenda Girton-Mitchell delivered an inspiring speech to over 200 attendees at the third annual Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast at Navarro College in Corsicana, TX. The breakfast event was held at the Cook Education Center on January 19, 2016.
Rev. Girton-Mitchell spoke of the influence Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had on her life in addition to many other positive role models that helped mold her into who she is today. Dr. King emphasized the importance of somebodiness- knowing that you have self worth, getting a good education, serving others and always maintaining a spirit of hope, especially in difficult times. Rev. Girton-Mitchell reminisced of her family life, growing up as the fifth child in a house of seven, and said “my basic needs were always met. As a child I never realized we were poor because there was a rich spirit in my home and community. People worked together and helped each other.” Her mother and grandmother’s words were teaching the same lessons that Dr. King was so passionate about. She encouraged the audience to “never underestimate the power of your words because they matter. The words you speak to others and the words that you speak to yourself can help to influence destinies.” Often the mantras in her home included “Have faith in God,” “You’re as good as anybody,” “Believe in yourself,” “Be the best you can be,” “Don’t get bitter, get better,” “Get a good education because no one can take that away from you.” The lessons and values instilled in Rev. Girton-Mitchell as a child are apparent through the work and difference she is making in her professional career.
Rev. Girton-Mitchell has served as the Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the past five years. Her leadership helps meet the goal of engaging community-based organizations, both faith-based and secular, in building a culture of high expectations and support for education. In addition, she works as part of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to implement its mission in cooperation with the Centers for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at 12 other federal agencies. She is an advocate for lifelong learning and has received many awards for her service to society, her impact on education and her dedication to making a better way for the students of this nation.
Navarro College focuses on supporting students along their educational journey. Part of this support is through financial assistance with scholarships. This year Navarro College had three candidates who were selected by a special nomination committee as finalists for the $1,000 Navarro College scholarship. During the breakfast, Navarro College awarded Tyshiana Anderson, a local senior attending Corsicana High School, the MLK scholarship to attend Navarro College in Fall 2016. Ms. Anderson addressed the audience with the speech she wrote as part of the scholarship application process. She talked about the impact Dr. King’s work has had on her life as a first generation college student. Ms. Anderson stated that Dr. King “laid the foundation for pursuing her career as a teacher.” She hopes to provide leadership to her family, the community, young African American ladies and future scholars.
In the future, Navarro College hopes to secure a larger sponsorship to fund multiple scholarships for students in Corsicana and surrounding communities. In some cases, the scholarships help students who are first generation students or who are unable to attend college due to the financial obligations.
Mr. Dairy Johnson, Assistant to the Vice President of Student Services and Community Liasion of Navarro College, is very passionate about this event due to his first-hand understanding of the struggles Dr. King faced in his lifetime. Johnson explains, “The MLK breakfast provides an outlet for the community to understand Dr. King’s dreams and see how they are being played out in the lives of our students. I was fortunate to be asked by Dr. Kavalier three years ago to play a lead role in the planning of the event.” Johnson continued, “A program of this magnitude gives us an opportunity to bring people together for a common goal of peace and educational advancement for our younger generation.”
“The MLK breakfast has exceeded our expectations every year and this year was no different. The event will continue to be a priority event for the College and the community. Navarro College is making education accessible to our students through affordable tuition rates and scholarships,” said Dr. Barbara Kavalier, District President of Navarro College. “It was an honor to have Reverend Girton-Mitchell as the guest speaker. The words she delivered were an inspiration to all in attendance.”
As a token of the State and Navarro College’s appreciation, Representative Byron Cook presented Rev. Girton-Mitchell a Texas flag to take back with her to D.C. In addition, a special thanks was given to main sponsors of the event including the City of Corsicana, Community National Bank, Corsicana Cleaners, Gilfillan Hardware, Navarro Regional Hospital and James E. Polk, Attorney at Law. The support of the community was outstanding with nearly 20 sponsors of the event. All of the money raised helps make this event possible year after year and allows Navarro College to provide an avenue for a student to receive their college education.