Ford School undergraduates receive prestigious MLK Spirit Awards

January 29, 2021

Three Ford School undergraduate students, Julianna Collado (BA ‘22), Cydney Gardner-Brown (BA ‘21), and Mariana Boully Perez (BA ‘21), were among the honorees who received the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Spirit Award. The MLK Spirit Award recognizes students who exemplify the leadership and extraordinary vision of Dr. King.

Collado has shown her dedication to expanding opportunity for Latinx students through her many student involvements. She has been active in student organizations across campus, including as a director for La Casa for the past two years, an undergraduate advisor for Assisting Latin@s to Maximize Achievement (ALMA), a coordinator of Latinx Heritage Month, and as a member of the student advisory boards for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and the DEI Summit. She plans to continue that work in a career in public service.

Gardner-Brown grew up in Detroit and witnessed inequity of opportunity up close. She has channeled her passion for the issue as a vice president of the Black Student Union and as president of the Students of Color in Public Policy. She is devoted to combating institutional barriers, and during the summer of 2020 as protests against racial inequality broke out across the country, she was able to raise $25,000 for The Bail Project.  

Boully Perez's parents are from Colombia and Ecuador. She is pursuing her social justice work with involvement in Students of Color in Public Policy and off-campus as a fellow with the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, a case manager for the Human Rights Initiative and an intern with Corazón Latino and The Campaign Workshop. She says her work within these spheres is driven by coming from an immigrant family and wanting to make her family and community proud about everything she does. 

The awards were presented at an online ceremony on Jan. 23, 2021. 

The Spirit Awards honor undergraduate students at U-M's Ann Arbor campus who are nominated by a faculty or staff member. Nominees must write an essay describing their work to foster equity, inclusivity, and social justice and awards are given to students who challenge oppressive norms, promote cross-cultural collaboration, confront systemic injustices, and build inclusive communities and equitable spaces.