Service and Knowledge Encouraged at Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.

By Spencer Watson

The event was organized by volunteers on the Diversity and Inclusion Engagement subcommittee.

Emphasizing King’s legacy of service, the event also kicked off the 2021 UAMS Serves campaign, which pairs UAMS employees and students with volunteer opportunities throughout the institution.

In a recorded message, Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D., UAMS chief strategy officer, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, recounted how last year’s inaugural UAMS Serves campaign was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but nevertheless resulted in dozens of volunteers spending hundreds of hours serving at entry screening sites, call centers, the summer day camp partnership with the Little Rock School District and the Stocked & Reddie Food Pantry.

“‘Anybody can be great because anybody can serve.’ Dr. King’s words remind us of the importance of service and supporting those in need, whether it’s confronting food insecurity or fighting injustice,” said Gardner. “In this spirit, I’m glad to see UAMS Serves start another year of serving one another and our community.”

To get involved in the 2021 UAMS Serves campaign:

  • Volunteer with Stocked & Reddie here.
  • Volunteer for COVID screening by inquiring at
  • Explore volunteer opportunities with UAMS Auxiliary.
  • Volunteer Services is coordinating onboarding of licensed nurses to administer the COVID vaccine at Freeway Medical Clinic. Apply here.

Quoting from and highlighting King’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham City Jail, Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, chancellor of UAMS and CEO of UAMS Health, emphasized King’s “uncompromising commitment to justice and truth and the belief that equal treatment is a fundamental right.”

“Knowing the right thing is rarely the issue; the issue is having the will to always do the right thing,” said Patterson. “As we remember Dr. King and commemorate his life and legacy, let’s learn from him. Let’s approach all human beings with honesty, integrity, dignity and respect.  Let’s embrace the richness of our cultural diversity. Let’s honor Dr. King by living out his belief that we must be the change we want to see in the world and know that the measure of our lives is not what we get but what we give.”

In the spirit of learning, the event also featured an adaptation of the long-running TV gameshow Jeopardy!, in which attendees were invited to answer trivia questions about King’s biography, teachings, speeches and accomplishments.

Afterward, Brian Gittens, Ed.D., MPA, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, encouraged everyone in attendance to keep learning, themselves, and to take up the challenge of encouraging others to think.

“It’s our responsibility as human beings to think and to reason. It’s probably the one thing we’re best at among all God’s creatures, and yet, as noted, it’s a talent our instincts all too often compel us to ignore,” said Gittens.

“As we gather together today to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King, I encourage all of you, so full of knowledge, to consider what it is you don’t know. Because no matter how much education we have, no matter how many degrees we earn, no matter how much trivia we memorize, there is simply so much more knowledge out there to be gained. Be open to it.”