Posted January 18, 2024

Temple honors Martin Luther King Jr. with special open house for Philadelphia-area students

The outreach event for high school students was held in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jose Aviles speaking with high school students at an outreach event at Temple
Photography By: 
Joseph V. Labolito
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Temple hosted a special open house for Philadelphia high school students to learn more about life as an Owl.

When a group of School District of Philadelphia students visited Temple University, they received an insightful experience of what it’s like to attend college.

During their visit, the 12th graders toured Temple’s Main Campus, learned about various schools and colleges, interacted with admissions staff, and explored financial aid opportunities. The university Admissions Office hosted the event on Jan. 15 to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“For us, honoring the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. goes beyond one day,” said Val Harrison, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, and community impact. “It is about maintaining sustainable programs that provide opportunities—particularly for communities that have been disadvantaged over time.

“This is about educational equity and that’s the work that he fought for.”

The event was part of Temple’s intentional outreach to local school students—those Temple founder Russell Conwell first referred to as acres of diamonds.

“These kinds of open houses are so critical for students to begin to see themselves in this environment, especially for students from Philadelphia,” said Jose Aviles, vice provost for enrollment management.

“It is so critical for them to get that sense that there is a picture of success for them. There is no other way of getting that than to participate in these programs. Sadly, when you look at students who are first in their family or low income, you don’t see that they participate at the rate that they should be in these college admissions experiences.”

He highlighted the importance of ensuring that these students receive the support needed to pursue their educational goals.

As part of the open house, Philadelphia-area students were invited to attend a reception and luncheon held at the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership (IDEAL).

Aviles, who is a former first-generation student, addressed how higher education changed the trajectory of his life as he spoke during the reception.

Timothy Welbeck, an assistant professor in Temple’s Africology and African American Studies Department and Director of the Center for Anti-Racism, provided attendees with a preview of his Hip-Hop and Black Culture course.

“Hip-hop allows many artists to talk about the communities that they live in, the experiences that they’ve had and how that can translate into broader society,” Welbeck, who is also the director of the Center for Anti-Racism, told the students. “We get to explore things like that at a university like Temple.

“I’m really grateful to have that type of opportunity because there are some universities that will say why are you talking about hip-hop,” he continued. “We are able to talk about hip-hop in that way as a springboard into talking about Black culture and larger societal issues.”

Temple also hosted several other events to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Lewis Katz School of Medicine hosted a day of activism and service highlighted by an address by radio host, award-winning columnist and activist Solomon Jones. Klein College of Media and Communication held the seventh annual reading of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. IDEAL hosted a screening of the film Rustin. The Office of Community Affairs and Engagement partnered with the College of Education and Human Development to hold community cleanups across North Philadelphia.