As a substitute teacher in Clarke County schools in his retirement, actor Lee Roy Brown Giles became known for his encouraging and supportive presence in local education.
Now, through an award named in his honor, a UGA College of Education graduate student is being honored for the encouragement he offers to others. Marques Dexter, a doctoral student in the College's department of kinesiology, is this year's graduate student recipient of the Lee Roy B. Giles Encouragement Award.
The award was established to reflect Giles' passion for education and for helping young people. Each year at least two students in African American studies receive cash grants through the award to use toward their educational expenses. The award is the first endowment dedicated to UGA's Institute for African American Studies.
Dexter, who also received his master's degree in kinesiology from the College of Education, is involved in several organizations and interests on campus. He works closely with the College's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in organizing events and speakers, he is a Student Ambassador for the College, he is a graduate assistant in the Office of Institutional Diversity, and he is the former president of Graduate and Professional Scholars, a graduate student organization that works to support racially and ethnically underrepresented graduate students at UGA.
"I am humbled and honored to be recognized for my passion, which is engaging in efforts to support and affirm members of the African diaspora through research, teaching, and service," said Dexter. "One of the primary reasons I left a successful career as a collegiate track and field coach was because I saw many of my black athletes and students coming to college with distinct issues that affected their success."
Dexter said he felt compelled to do something, but needed additional tools to have a greater effect. Along with enrolling in a graduate program at UGA, Dexter said he was intentional with his involvement in organizations on campus while he's been pursuing his doctorate.
"Each involvement opportunity opened the door for me to affect change. In particular, Dr. Anneliese Singh has been a blessing, showing me how I can infuse my passion for social justice with my research, empowering me always to remain authentic and unapologetic," he added. "As an institution, UGA has a plethora of individuals and resources readily available to assist you in accomplishing almost any goal you have. Without the multitude of support from the custodial staff in Ramsey, my peers, and even administrators like Dr. Cook, Mr. Tripp, and President Morehead, I don't know if I would be worthy of this award without each of them."
Before moving to Athens, Giles combined his two passions, theater and education, into a successful and fulfilling career in New York City.
His acting credits include working with the New Federal Theatre, the Billie Holiday Theatre and the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, among other New York-based and touring productions. His film credits include roles in "Sweet Home Alabama," "Boycott," and "Three Can Play That Game." But he also taught in special education in the New York City area, and continued to teach in retirement as a substitute in Clarke County Schools.