UAMS Celebrates King’s Call to Service, Honors Employees

By Ben Boulden

Jan. 25, 2012 | The annual University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) celebration of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. carried the theme of service — to others, to the community and in the role of fighting inequalities.


The Jan. 24 event amplified King’s challenge to be a “drum major” for service, showing leadership through humble service not for personal glory but for betterment of all. UAMS has an institutional purpose to serve others by improving health and health care, said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.


Keynote speaker David R. Montague, Ph.D., an associate professor of criminal justice and director of the Senior Justice Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, talked of how it is important to reflect on the past, on King’s legacy, to appreciate the future and seek ways to serve.


Five UAMS employees were recognized for service in their community through charities and work to help those in need. Niki Carver, Pharm.D., Joe Cook, Marquazetta “Marty” Finger, Celese Marshall and Mark Leonard were honored as UAMS Drum Majors for Service.


“This event offers us a reminder of Dr. King’s vision and a challenge to continue our work in service to our patients, to our students and pushing to expand scientific knowledge in a way that serves us all,” Rahn said.


Rahn pointed to another King quote: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” UAMS recently hosted a national conference on health disparities and highlighted several UAMS programs that are focused daily on addressing the problem of disparities in health outcomes that can be traced to social determinants including race, poverty and education.


King’s fight against racism and social injustice did not stop when he was assassinated in 1968, Montague said. Instead, it ignited the need to serve in others and can be seen today.


“His legacy lives and breathes all around us and cannot be stopped,” Montague said.  


Montague recounted the life of Samuel Lee Kountz Jr., M.D., noted transplant surgeon and Arkansas native. In 1958, he was one of the first African-Americans to receive a medical degree from what is today UAMS. Montague said he was inspired by Kountz’s drive to service that started as an 8-year-old when he said he did not approve of inequality and planned to become a doctor to improve health care for those in need.


“We all have a story that makes us who we are,” Montague said, noting his connection to King as a graduate of Morehouse College. He recalled his time in the dorm where King once stayed and studying in buildings where King had studied.


He felt King’s legacy in the call to be remembered for the things you do to help others — not that it was you who did them.


The five UAMS employees recognized as Drum Majors for Service for service to their community.


·         Niki Carver, Pharm.D. — Has volunteered countless hours at Shepherd’s Hope Neighborhood Health Center in the South Midtown area of Little Rock, where she serves as the pharmacist-in-charge. She has supervised the work of pharmacy students from UAMS and Harding who volunteer at the clinic.

·         Joe Cook — A 20-year military veteran who has served on UAMS committees for veterans and in the House of Delegates. While away from the office, he is active in Gideon’s International and the Arthritis Foundation, serving as chair of the Craig O’Neill Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis.

·         Marquazetta “Marty” Finger — With her siblings founded the George Henry McDaniel Foundation that serves the Delta area of Palestine, Ark., where she grew up, and supports college scholarships. She also is a founder of the “Takin It to the Street Ministry” that has organized health screenings, food collections and other efforts to help families in need.

·         Celese Marshall — A breast cancer survivor who served as captain for the UAMS/Cancer Institute team in the past two Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events. She also volunteers to feed the homeless once a month under the Broadway Bridge and helps the Christmas with Kids ministry at Southern Christian Home.

·         Mark Leonard — Started the Arkansas Freedom Fund, which raises money and provides support for wounded veterans and their families who live in Arkansas through rehabilitative events. The organization hosts a golf scramble, an annual bike ride where wounded warriors are joined on their ride by others in the community, and the Freedom Anglers that offers veterans the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and lakes of Arkansas.