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Arika Allen

Area of Study:

Medical Anthropology/Pre-Med with minor in African American Studies


Davenport, IA

The area you participate in with Leadership & Service Programs:

I am currently involved with the 2019 MLK Day of Service.

Describe your role in that program:

This is my second year assisting Charlotte Brown with the program. I am essentially helping the celebration for the day of service activities. I help to find catering, performances, set-up, t-shirt distribution, and just ensuring that the day runs smoothly.

How did you get involved, and what has motivated you to stick around?

In years past, I would just volunteer to participate in the Day of Service events, however, last year I was on the board to help plan the week. I really enjoy all aspects of the Day of Service and how it brings people together to give back and participate in one of the things that Martin Luther Kind stood for. I became involved again this year, to culminate what I have grown to love over the past four years.

Why is volunteering or service work important?

To be able to give back and serve others is something that I believe everyone should do. Volunteering is important because of its ability to better the individual psychologically, physically, as well as better the community. The willingness to aid others in their time of need is almost ingrained in me as a human being. I am a believer in God and I think about the selflessness and willingness that Jesus and the followers of Christ had when it came to aiding others in their time of need. Having the understanding that at some point in life everyone needs help and being able to provide that help when I have the means is part of my character.

What's been your favorite memory, experience, or lessons learned?

My favorite memory and experience is the beginning and end of MLK Day of Service and any volunteering experience. If you took a screen shot of those moments, you can see at a glance the impact this experience had on these individuals. In the beginning, many or shy, wary and uncertain about what they signed themselves up for. By the end of the volunteer experience: the relationships are built, trust is gained, and there is reassurance in the ability of people to come together and do something great and amazing for others.

The University of Iowa MLK Week chooses a quote every year. This year's quote is from Dr. King's 1964 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Address when he said, "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporary defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."

What is your interpretation of that quote? Do you have a personal motto or quote you live by?

In terms of MLK's quote, I believe that he meant no matter what, the truth and what is right will always beat out the bad things in life. The ability to love in the midst of hate, and stand up for things that you believe in regardless of the circumstances against us is sometimes an unbearable task. 

There are tons of sayings, songs, and bible verses that come in the midst of my struggles and challenges. Anything from the simplistic, illustrious words of Dr. Seuss to the sweet, comforting words of Stevie Wonder. Yet, one thing that always stays in my mind is the word of my late great Grandfather made up: BBOUTIT! This word stems from Luke 2:49: Jesus answered, "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my father's business?

Mary and Joseph couldn't find 12-year old Jesus for 3 days and when they finally found him in the temple, teaching and preaching, Mary asked, "Why have you done this to us, we were frantic to find you," and Luke 2:49 was his reply. This one word is a constant reminder that everything I do has a purpose: God's purpose. I have to remember that I am being about my father's business.


MLK Celebration of Human Rights Week is happening soon!

Sign up to volunteer at this year's MLK Day of Service here