First Annual Warfield Week honors students who embody legacy of John Lewis Warfield

Ren Leija, General News Reporter

Student leaders attended the first annual Warfield Awards reception on Feb. 10 to celebrate their accomplishments that embody the legacy of John Lewis Warfield, the former director of UT’s Center for African and African-American Studies.

The ceremony, hosted at the Multicultural Engagement Center, was held during the first annual Warfield Week. Established by McCombs graduate student Chelsea Okoroafor, the week-long celebration was held to commemorate John L. Warfield, an educational psychology professor who worked to address racially institutionalized barriers at UT, and recognize University students who uphold his impact.

“I just felt that people needed to be more aware of what (Warfield) has done for the school,”

Okoroafor said. “It makes me feel amazing to be a part of this. I am so excited that Dr. Warfield is still having a lasting impact even years after being director.”

Okoroafor pitched the idea to Christina Bryant, senior program coordinator of the Warfield

Center, and Jennifer Wilks, director of the center. The week began with Music Monday, followed by Talk Tuesday, Welcome Wednesday, Throwback Thursday and ending with Future Friday — a recognition for University students.

Students Kirsten Budwine, Sam Jefferson, Bola Ibidapo, Trinity Hawkins and Mary Sailale were nominated for their service and advocacy by University professors. At the event, the award honorees said they are appreciative to be celebrated in Warfield’s honor of activism and scholarship.

“I was blown away by how much these students — undergraduate and graduate — are doing on campus with student organizations, but also taking their interests and their work out into the broader community and helping underserved populations,” Wilks said.

Ibidapo was recognized for her work as co-founder and executive director of the Too Fly Foundation, an organization that works to “bridge the gaps between travel, education, and technology for students of color,” according to its website. 

“It’s one thing to get an award in general,” said Ibidapo, a third-year law student. “But to be honored amongst your community — honored as a Black leader — it’s humbling to know because so many of us are doing such great work, so it’s beautiful to be recognized amongst your own peers.”

Okoroafor, Bryant and Wilks said they wish for Warfield Week to continue in the future.

“I hope that more students who are living up to Dr. Warfield’s legacy are recognized in the

future,” marketing graduate student Okoroafor said. “I would love to see Warfield Week continue as a yearly thing and the Warfield Award to continue as a yearly thing. I’m in awe of everything.”