Students start Black studies scholarship fundraiser

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Photo Credit: Alex Donavan | Daily Texan Staff

Liberal Arts Council student leaders are hoping to raise $2,500 through a HornRaiser to provide experiential learning opportunities in Black Studies.

Grace Blumenfeld, project logistics lead for the scholarship, said the scholarship will be the first student-led scholarship and the third scholarship available in Black Studies. It will focus on providing funds for students in the African and African Diaspora Studies department, Blumenfeld said. The fundraiser, running from Sept. 9 to Oct. 14, has raised $1,140 as of Sept. 21. 

Mmeso Onuoha and Blumenfeld, the coordinators for the council’s Academic Affairs committee, created the Black Studies Student Support Scholarship. Blumenfeld said the fund was created because there are few financial resources for Black Studies students to apply their knowledge in the real world.

“People haven’t been able to take opportunities of experiential learning in this department because it’s a financial burden,” said Blumenfeld, an economics and psychology junior. “Our (non-financial) goal is to bring awareness, get the word out and possibly motivate others to start their own scholarships when there is a problem.”

 

Onuoha started the project in May, and she said her goal for the scholarship is to relieve financial stress for Black Studies students so they can pursue opportunities with more peace of mind.

“We underestimate how important it is to actually apply what we’re learning in the classroom to the workplace and in our communities,” said Maria Sailale, project communications lead and international relations and global studies sophomore. “Experiential learning opportunities, like internships, for example, let Black Studies students stand out and be competitive applicants for certain jobs.”

Sailale said experiential learning, which includes research, study abroad opportunities, academic conferences and internships, often does not provide stipends and is unaffordable for some students.

“The students have really expanded what experiential learning can be during the pandemic,” project department advisor Christina Bryant said. “From online internship transitions to presenting at academic conferences, there are now opportunities that have virtually opened up but again, still require financial commitment.”

Onuoha, an economics and African and African Diaspora studies junior, said the team hopes the project will provide long-term resources for the department and make a difference in opportunities for at least two students within Black Studies. 

“Honestly, students really inspire me here, and I just wanted to do something to say I appreciate what I’ve learned from my peers,” Onuoha said.