Ava Roberts, 2020 MLK Jr. Community Service Award Recipient

Ava inspires young students to pursue careers in STEM subjects.

Looking to get involved with like-minded young professionals, Ava Roberts began volunteering with the Greater Baltimore Urban League in 2006, around the same time she started working as a clinical laboratory scientist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. She sets aside her Saturday mornings to help middle and high school students prepare for college and careers through mock interviews, public speaking practice and visits to local colleges.

As a clinical laboratory scientist in the hospital’s microbiology lab, Roberts manages COVID-19 testing supplies, kits and funding, and helped troubleshoot procurement challenges as a result of supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic. She offers a different perspective of working in medicine, and is able to share the importance of microbiology in a hospital setting when students tour the lab. In fact, clinical microbiologists were the ones to develop an in-house COVID-19 screening test at Johns Hopkins.

At her alma mater, Western High School, Roberts gives lectures each year as part of the STEM curriculum and visits biology classes to share what medical microbiology is like. Following generations of women in her family who attended the oldest public all-girls high school in the country, Roberts continues giving back by painting bathrooms and murals, collecting white dresses for graduation and teaching students how to balance a checkbook. She served two terms as vice president of the alumni association, and is now a member of the boosters club.

As part of the Johns Hopkins Pathology Diversity Committee, Roberts keeps her labmates apprised of engagement, diversity and volunteer opportunities. She has organized Black History Month activities, encouraged volunteerism on the MLK Day of Service, and organized purse and toiletry collections for women facing homelessness.

“You never really realize what you do and the impact you make,” says Roberts, who was recently initiated into Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated, a global sorority committed to service.

Her passion for helping others extends to animal welfare. Shortly after rescuing her first dog, Brandy, Roberts learned of another senior dog with behavioral issues who had spent years in shelters without being adopted. Thanks to Roberts’ kindheartedness, Bourbon will now live out the rest of his years in a loving home.

Congratulations to the 2020 Recipients of Johns Hopkins' Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Community Service

Eight Johns Hopkins Medicine and University faculty and staff members were selected for volunteer work and recognized with the 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award.

MLK Community Service Award recipients