AIKEN, SC (01/24/2018) During the annual Community Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration in the University of South Carolina Aiken Convocation Center, the planning committee presented three Human and Civil Rights Awards - one to a community member, one to a student at Aiken Technical College and one to a student at USC Aiken.
Travis Hardee, a junior majoring in sociology, was selected as the USC Aiken recipient.
"This year, the committee wanted to recognize a student from Aiken Tech, USC Aiken and the community who have made an impact on their campus or community, have strived to promote diversity, and are considered to be great role models," said Stephanie Franklin, chair of the planning committee.
Organizers say recipients of the inaugural Human & Civil Rights Champion Awards embrace the ideals of service and represent the theme of the annual event, which was based on a King quote: "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve…you only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love."
Franklin credited Hardee with using his platform as a Student Government Association Senator to promote and advocate for other students.
For example, when concerns were raised regarding the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, he was instrumental in helping bring campus administrators and student leaders together to find solutions and discover ways to ensure that all students are served.
"He has also been a driving force to encourage all students to have a voice and advocates for students to make sure their voice is heard," Franklin said during the awards presentation.
"He actively engages students, the dean and faculty members within his college division to initiate conversations, inquire about needs and issues, and seeks ways to help identify solutions."
Hardee, a native of Conway, S.C., is very involved in diversity-related activities on campus, including diversity roundtable discussions that help increase awareness of diversity-related topics at USC Aiken.
"His innate warmth and empathy for others, as well as his ability to make all people feel comfortable serves him well as a leader," said the person who nominated him for this honor.
"He is mature beyond his years and is well respected by all on campus. I find him to be one of the most thoughtful student leaders I have ever worked with and, as a father of two boys, can only hope that my two boys turn out to be as socially conscious as (he) is."
In addition to Hardee, Victoria Shekastehband received the ATC Human & Civil Rights Champion Award. Attorney Everett Chandler, owner of Chandler Law Firm in Aiken, was selected as the community Human & Civil Rights Champion Award recipient.