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UW-Madison service and celebrations honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 16, 2014 By Susannah Brooks

A University of Wisconsin–Madison staff member is one of the recipients of this year’s City-County Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Awards.

Hazel Symonette

Hazel Symonette

Hazel Symonette, founder and director of the Student Success Institute and program development and assessment specialist in the Division of Student Life, will receive the award during Madison’s 29th annual City-County Observance on Monday, Jan. 20, one of the many activities taking place in celebration of King’s life and work.

“Dr. Hazel Symonette is a truly deserving recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award,” says Mayor Paul Soglin. “Her decades of work on the UW campus and throughout the city has made an invaluable impact on the lives of students who without her assistance and guidance, would be at risk of dropping out. Her work is nationally known and valued and Madison is very fortunate to have her as a professional and caring volunteer and mentor.”

Symonette has used her background in social justice and her long history on campus and at UW System to develop, evaluate and improve success opportunities for all. She has spearheaded a number of important initiatives that have made the work of UW–Madison more accessible to community members, including the Information Technology Academy, a group that works to provide pre-college education and technology access and training for students in Madison public schools.

The celebration takes place at the Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St. The evening begins with a Freedom Songs Sing-In, from 5-5:30 p.m. in the Overture Center’s Rotunda.

At 6 p.m., the City-County Observance begins in the Capitol Theater. Former United Nations ambassador Andrew J. Young, colleague and friend to Dr. King, will give the keynote address. Mayor Paul Soglin and County Executive Joe Parisi will present City and County King Humanitarian awards. The celebration also includes a call to action and a performance by the MLK Community Choir.

Other events taking place on and off campus encourage participants to celebrate and collaborate while enjoying “a day on, not a day off.”

On Friday, Jan. 17, the celebrations begin with the 27th Annual Free Community Dinner, honoring Dr. King’s spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood. The event takes place on the second floor of Gordon Commons, 770 W. Dayton St., from 4:30-7 p.m. Kobussen Buses will provide free shuttles to and from the dinner, with pickups are scheduled at the YWCA, 101 E Mifflin Street (departing at 5:45 p.m.) and Grace Episcopal Church, 116 W. Washington Ave. (departing at 5:55 p.m.).

On Monday, Jan. 20, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day begins as the Morgridge Center for Public Service sponsors a day of science and service for local middle and high school youth, held from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St.

More than 300 students have already registered for this free day of service and science, encouraging students to become involved in their community and learn about science, technology, engineering, math and medical educational and career options. Sessions in 2013 included Bioethics Poetry Slam, Exploring the Nanoworld, Playsquads (gaming+learning+society), Teaming with Microbes, What’s Eating My Food? and Groundwater: Go with the Flow!

The event is held in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Madison and the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Town Center. To learn more or sign up, visit the Urban League’s website.

Madison Metro buses will follow alternate schedules on Monday, Jan. 20. Campus routes 80 and 84 follow weekday recess schedules, while most major city routes follow Saturday schedules. In addition, all standing paratransit rides are canceled. Maps of all bus detours and updated bus schedules are available at For more information, contact Metro at 608-266-4466 or