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2015 CCI Diversity Award & CCI Experience Diversity Banquet

Dean Wirth, Dr. Kim and Alice Wirth (l-r)Dr. Tom Kim was presented with the 2015 CCI Diversity Award at the College of Communication and Information’s seventh annual Experience Diversity Banquet Friday, Feb. 20. Dr. Kim is an internal medicine and hematology-oncology physician who began the Free Medical Clinic of America in Knoxville over 20 years ago. 

A North Korean by birth, Dr. Kim and his family escaped to South Korea when he was ten year’s old, and later immigrated to the US. He believes strongly in serving the poor in his adopted community by providing free healthcare. During his acceptance speech, he enthusiastically embraced DSLS’s mission and asked the 135 people in attendance to reach out and do one kind thing for someone else on a daily basis. He expressed his gratitude for the award, indicating that it was the most meaningful award he had ever received.

The Experience Diversity Banquet serves as the primary annual fundraiser for CCI’s Diversity Student Leaders Society (DSLS). This year’s banquet raised over $4,000 to support DSLS programs, field trips and scholarships.

A student produced video interview with Dr. Kim was shown during the banquet, and one of the interviewers, Julian Wright (JEM), provided a moving tribute to Dr. Kim stressing how much he had inspired the DSLS students through his enthusiasm and positive energy.

The banquet’s keynote speaker was John Onuoha, an inspirational speaker/ performer and a graduate of the US Air Force Academy. He is the director of project and product portfolio management at OptumInsight in St. Louis, Missouri. Onuoha’s keynote focused on the theme of this year’s banquet, “Heal the World.” He also deftly incorporated ideas from Dr. Kim and from other banquet speakers and performers to provide the audience with a message of hope and inspiration.

The banquet program included multicultural music, dancing and performances. “This is one of my favorite events each year because it showcases the uniqueness of our students and their talents,” said CCI Undergraduate Advising Center Director Betty Bradley.  “I bring my son every year because it is such a rich cultural experience packed into one night.”

“We thank everyone who supported our wonderful DSLS students by purchasing tables and tickets, by making donations, by making silent and live auction purchases, and by volunteering their time,” said DSLS Director Alice Wirth. “We are also very grateful that so many of our supporters were able to attend the banquet in spite of the weather challenges with which we were faced.”