Ninth Annual Walk the Walk Week events to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The University of Notre Dame’s ninth annual Walk the Walk Week will take place Jan. 15 (Monday) through Jan. 22 (Monday). Walk the Walk Week, which begins on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, will once again feature a series of over 25 events, exhibits and discussions designed to invite reflection about diversity and inclusion on the Notre Dame campus, locally and nationally.


Among the keynote events for the week is “Building a Legacy of Opportunity: A Conversation with Dr. Howard Adams” at 5 p.m. Jan. 17 (Wednesday) in the Dahnke Ballroom of Duncan Student Center.

From 1978 to 1995, Adams served as the inaugural executive director of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science Inc. (GEM), originally headquartered at Notre Dame. Now a national consortium, GEM recruits underrepresented students looking to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in applied science and engineering, and matches their specific skills to the technical needs of GEM employer partners. GEM is credited with providing fellowships and internships that assisted over 3,000 students from underrepresented backgrounds to obtain advanced degrees in engineering and applied science.

Adams is a leading expert on developing individuals through mentoring and strategic career and life planning. Throughout his career, he has advised young adults from minority backgrounds on how to navigate higher education and build careers in both industry and academia.

In 1989, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to a U.S. congressional task force on women, minorities and the handicapped in science and technology. Adams received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 1995 and the Golden Torch Award from the National Society of Black Engineers in 2002. Notre Dame awarded him an honorary degree at the 2023 University Commencement Ceremony. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University, a master’s degree from Virginia State University and a doctorate from Syracuse University.

At the Jan. 17 event, Adams will dialogue with three former GEM fellows and current leaders in higher education and business, including Stephanie G. Adams, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas; Notre Dame alumnus Robert V. Jones, co-founder, president and CEO of PReSafe Technologies; and Sylvia Wilson Thomas, vice president for research and innovation at the University of South Florida. They will discuss strategies to support and retain underrepresented students in STEM higher education programs, GEM’s impact on their personal development and careers, and advice for students navigating graduate school and industry careers in STEM fields.

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The event is open to students, faculty and staff; registration is required to attend.

Also on Jan. 17 at 8 p.m., University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., will preside at the annual Candlelight Prayer Service in the Main Building Rotunda. Fighting Irish volleyball head coach Salima Rockwell will deliver a keynote reflection and the Voices of Faith Gospel will provide music. The prayer service will conclude with a candlelight march to the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue.

All are invited to the prayer service and to a dessert reception that follows in the Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in LaFortune Student Center.

Additional events will be held throughout the week. A full list is available at


Originally published by Notre Dame News at on January 10, 2024.