Wake Forest announces MLK ‘Building the Dream’ award winners

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Senior Rute Ayalew and Assistant Director of Advocacy and Social Justice Deb Marke have been named Wake Forest University’s 2024 Martin Luther King Jr. “Building the Dream” award winners.

Building the Dream awards are traditionally presented to a professor or administrator and a student from Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State University who exemplify King’s qualities and promote diversity within the community. Winners were recognized during the annual event that is co-sponsored by the two universities and honors the slain civil rights leader.

Rute Ayalew is a computer science major and Leadership and Character scholar from Charlotte, NC. Through her work on campus as a student assistant in the Women’s Center and as an advocate and organizer, she is a trusted partner for her friends and peers.

Ayalew is committed to expanding access and belongingness for women and people of color in computer science and is involved with Housing Justice Now, a nonprofit that supports low-income tenants and advocates for broader just housing systems across Forsyth County. 

In the Office of Civic and Community Engagement, Deb Marke oversees social justice initiatives and coordinates both the Deacs Decide election engagement project and Wake Alternative Break. She advises student groups like Artivist, which hosted a sustainable art gallery last year, and the Period Project, a nonprofit that provides access to period products in schools, workplaces and public spaces.

About the Awards

For more than two decades, Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State University have collaborated to host events honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Faculty, staff and students submit “Building the Dream” award nominations for their respective universities and a committee of representatives from each school selects winners. The recipients were recognized at an annual banquet celebration on Jan. 15.

Categories: Top Stories