Three Ohio Wesleyan Students Earn Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grants to Support Academic Projects
DELAWARE, Ohio – Three Ohio Wesleyan University students have earned new OWU Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Grants to support projects studying the contributions of Black women to gynecological care in the United States and the development of Black journalism in Africa and Europe.
The newest recipients of the competitive, university-funded DEI Grants are first-year students Jemimah Chukwuemeka of Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria; Anya Robinson of Belleville, Illinois; and senior Jada Respress of Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
Chukwuemeka and Robinson will use their grant to attend The Anarcha, Lucy, Betsey Day of Reckoning Conference from Feb. 26 to March 1 in Montgomery, Alabama. The event recognizes the historic inequities in Black women’s healthcare, focusing upon the legacies of three enslaved women who underwent multiple gynecological surgeries without their consent in the mid-1800s. Today, the women are memorialized through a 15-foot public monument in downtown Montgomery for their roles as “the mothers of gynecology.”
At Ohio Wesleyan, Chukwuemeka is pursuing majors in Biochemistry and Pre-Medicine and a minor in French; Robinson is pursuing majors in Neuroscience and French and a minor in Black World Studies.
Respress is applying her grant to fall semester research she conducted in Black journalism in both Cape Town, South Africa, and London, United Kingdom. She is pursuing a major in Communication and a minor in Politics & Government. In addition to a DEI Grant, Respress also earned a 2022 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to support her project.
Ohio Wesleyan’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grant program is overseen by the university’s Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It was launched in 2021 and includes both student and faculty-staff funding categories. The program is part of the university’s larger Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, which seeks to make the campus an actively antiracist space.
To share their newfound knowledge with others, Chukwuemeka and Robinson plan to collaborate with Ohio Wesleyan’s Black Student Union to share information about the Day of Reckoning Conference and ongoing inequities in health care with the campus in March during Women’s History Month.
“I want people to make informed decisions instead of forced decisions,” said Robinson, who plans to pursue her doctorate in Neuroscience to support a career researching Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. “I have always been interested in health and medicine and through the conference, I will be able to explore different fields and learn more about the medical field, medical history, and racial disparities. With this, I can share my knowledge with others and hopefully help other Black women learn about medical autonomy and other medical issues that pertain to them. Knowledge is power.”
Chukwuemeka adds that attending the national conference will “allow me to learn about the history and development of gynecology, travel Anarcha’s actual path, and hear from a variety of viewpoints about how the medical industry has and continues to function in relation to Black women. Attending a conference in my field of study allows for exposure to national experts early in my academic journey.”
The conference also directly ties into Chukwuemeka’s long-term career ambitions, noting: “My future end game is to become a successful pediatric neurosurgeon. My ultimate objective is to establish multiple foundations, hospitals, and clinics for women and children, especially in my home country. Most female children in my home country do not receive quality education nor medical care; therefore, I want to help females understand that they are unique and deserve equal rights as their male counterparts.”
As for budding journalist Respress, she plans to move to Washington, D.C., to become a political journalist after graduating in May and is using her Ohio Wesleyan DEI Grant to better understand the evolution and impact of Black journalism.
Of her research, Respress said her primary goal while abroad was to explore how “a free press in a young democracy and country where the government is predominantly Black but the racial majority of Cape Town is Coloured … compares to one in a country with a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy and a predominantly white population.”
She also will share insights with the Ohio Wesleyan campus, using her work to advocate for a potential new Communication class.
“Getting the opportunity to travel to Africa is an honor in itself,” Respress said, “but being able to take my experience to help those like me who haven’t been privy to that to further improve their writing is what motivates me to undergo this project.”
Ohio Wesleyan’s DEI Grant program was launched in 2021 to support projects proposed by students and employees to advance the OWU campus as an antiracist space. The university continues to accept student DEI Grant proposals this semester, with the application and review process overseen by the Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Student grants may be up to $1,500 each.
Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s DEI Grant program at owu.edu/DEIGrants.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature experience, the OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to understand issues from multiple academic perspectives, volunteer in service to others, build a diverse and global perspective, and translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through internships, research, and other hands-on learning. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “Best Colleges” lists. Connect with OWU expert interview sources at owu.edu/experts or learn more at owu.edu.