A Power in Purpose Lesson for Martin Luther King Day

As we at Westminster celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, Dr. King’s words of wisdom, which one of our distinguished alumni, Derick Dailey ’11, shared with new students at Convocation this year, bears repeating. 

During his speech, Derick talked about Dr. King’s message: “If a man or woman is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michaelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry, he should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” 

In keeping with Dr. King’s exhortation, Derick urged the incoming class to take whatever task they are given, no matter how mundane, and do it with excellence, integrity, character, and pride. 

Derick lives by those words every day. As a student at Westminster, his leadership resulted in our Office of Diversity and the Westminster Poverty Initiative. While obtaining a degree in political science and religious studies, he developed a plan to distribute leftover food to the local senior community center, traveled to Ethiopia with a team of students to build a children’s library in a small village, and served as a board member for the international organization Bread for the World. 

Derick truly found his power in purpose at Westminster. The College’s lessons in leadership and service led to his volunteer work with Teach for America and a thirst to make the world a better place than he found it. Following in Dr. King’s example, Derick earned a divinity degree from Yale University. After earning a master of arts in religion, he went on to graduate from the Fordham University of Law and is now an associate at the law firm of Dowd Bennett, LLP in St. Louis. 

He is one of the countless extraordinary alumni we have making their mark on the world. On this Martin Luther King Day, Westminster salutes him. 

“Do your work, whatever it be, with integrity, with courage and with grace. Love your brother and your sister, love the stranger in your midst, honor them with a kind word and a tempered tongue.”—Derick Dailey 

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