This new program, headed up by the social sciences division, recognizes students that are taking a stand
The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder is excited to announce the 2022 inaugural class of social justice scholars.
The social justice scholars program is a brand-new program that aims to elevate social justice as an orienting theme in the social sciences divisional work, demonstrating how different disciplines can effectively converge to tackle some of society’s biggest problems.
Up to ten undergraduate students (rising seniors) will be chosen on an annual basis to serve as social justice scholars their senior year. Each scholar will be awarded $5,000 that will become of a part of their financial aid package. Each year’s cohort will take part in social events and seminars throughout the year designed to build connections between each other, faculty in the division and members of the community engaged in related activity.
“Whether it was work for community organizations (both nationally and internationally), or service to fellow students at CU, this year’s social justice scholars have clearly defined a high level of excellence and achievement. What is more, their stories give hope that there is a very strong current of empathy, intelligence and energy directed at what we in the social sciences hold as a foundational goal: social justice,” said David Brown, the college’s divisional dean for the social sciences.
This year’s recipients are:
- Aliya Trapp, international affairs and ethnic studies
- Molly Fox, leadership and community engagement and sociology (minor in business analytics)
- Rachel Hill, political science and mathematics (minor in philosophy)
- Meenakshi Manoj, international affairs and economics
- Shae Stokes, sociology and philosophy
- Sibonelly Espitia Sanchez, sociology and psychology
- Gabriela Mejia, cinema studies and ethnic studies (minor in leadership studies)
- Peri Cooper, International affairs and theatre
- Natasha Panepinto, political science (minor in Spanish)
- Blen Abamecha, ethnic studies
- Isla DePuy-Bravo, international affairs (minors in Spanish and political science)
- Makayla Sileo, speech, language and hearing sciences (minors in sociology and leadership studies)
- Maymuna Jeylani, ethnic studies and secondary education (minor in leadership studies)
For these students, the resounding response at being chosen has been one of excitement.
“I can't think of a better opportunity to finish out my time here than serving as a Social Justice Scholar. I am excited to see not only what this experience has to offer me, but to learn how I can leave an impact on both the program and the university and Boulder community that has given me so much,” said Panepinto.
Espitia Sanchez agrees, adding: “My studies have confirmed the frequent occurrence of everyday social problems, exposing just how cruel the world can be and how many victims of social injustices exist in all corners of the world. I’ve become incredibly inspired and determined to not only address social justice issues, but learn to contribute to their solutions during my time at CU.”
For those interested in applying for 2023, applications need to be submitted through AcademicWorks by May 14, 2023.
The application consists of a two-page, single-spaced letter explaining how your course of study, work in the community or interest and participation in addressing social justice issues forms an important part of your experience at CU Boulder. In addition to the written statement, provide an unofficial copy of your transcript. All applicants must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0.
The selection committee will be looking for students who have crafted a course of study that addresses social justice issues or have participated in related clubs, programs or organizations.
The selection will be announced by June 1, 2023.
The Social Justice Scholars program seemed like an amazing and unique opportunity to get involved in activism within the Boulder community with my fellow classmates. Social activism has always been an important cornerstone in my life, and I knew this program would give me the ability to increase my knowledge on being more effective and having a greater impact. I am incredibly honored to apart of the inaugural year.
As a transfer student to CU Boulder, I saw the potential for a social science degree to grow my formal training in social justice and elevate my understanding of my place in the issues that I want to pursue. As I continue engaging in social justice research, public action projects and volunteering through my senior year, I hope to only grow my motivation and fascination with how social systems function to produce such ill effects in society, and how those same systems hold the answers for sustainable solutions for the future. Excited for the ways I will grow and the people I will meet through this program!
Rachel Hill is a senior studying political science and math. Originally from Littleton, Colorado, she attended Columbine High School and started gun violence prevention work when she was sixteen. Since then, she has worked to lobby and testify for common sense gun legislation at local, state and federal levels. Following the Boulder King Soopers shooting, she has turned her passion toward helping her local community heal from the effects of gun violence. She is also currently serving as Student Body President here at CU.
My name is Meenakshi Manoj, and I'm an international affairs and economics double major at CU Boulder. I'm excited to be part of the Social Justice Scholars program! I have previously worked with the Office of State Planning and Budget at the Governor's office in pursuing better equity goals in legislation. I'm currently hoping to establish a student organization on campus devoted to dealing with and combatting sexual assault on campus at large. I'm looking forward to the opportunities and connections this program will bring!
Hello! My name is Shae and I am a rising senior pursuing a double major in sociology and philosophy at CU Boulder, as well as a certificate in animals and society. Animal welfare is one of my greatest passions, both for its own sake and because animal agriculture is closely connected to numerous other social justice issues affecting people and our planet. I am honored to be able to further develop my skills as a social justice activist through this program!
Sibonelly Espitia Sanchez
As a sociology and psychology double major, I have developed passions to understand the world we live in and the individuals which inhabit it. My studies have confirmed the frequent occurrence of everyday social problems, exposing just how cruel the world can be and how many victims of social injustices exist in all corners of the world. I’ve become incredibly inspired and determined to not only address social justice issues, but learn to contribute to their solutions during my time at CU.
Gabriela Mejia is a film student based in Boulder, Colorado who is pursuing a BFA in Cinema Studies and Ethnic Studies with a minor in Multicultural Leadership.She works towards diversity and inclusivity both in front and behind the camera and casts women of color as leads in her films and is committed to working with a female-helmed crew.
My whole life, I’ve loved stories, from books to art to theatre. I loved the way that they can solve problems and create a world that doesn’t really exist in real life. I want to help make that a reality. We live in a world filled with prosperity and amazing things, but not everyone gets to experience those in the same way. For the world to become more equitable, that must start with us.
Social justice is something I have cared deeply about long before I arrived at CU Boulder. I was lucky enough to have parents who shared my passion and took me to marches and protests whenever they had the chance. Throughout my last three years at CU, I have continued to pursue this passion, taking every opportunity offered, despite the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it was constantly changing and interrupting things, I was able to take numerous courses that gave me a better understanding of social justice and why we need it. These courses combined with my participation in CU in DC, establishment of the student organization Leading Women of Tomorrow, and service on the Appellate Court have given me an extremely memorable and meaningful experience at CU. That said, I can't think of a better opportunity to finish out my time here than serving as a social justice scholar. I am excited to see not only what this experience has to offer me, but to learn how I can leave an impact on both the program and the university and Boulder community that has given me so much.
I am interested in the Social Justice Scholars Program because I want to be in a space alongside other scholars who not only want to make a change but are taking steps to end racial injustice by actively doing social justice work. As a Black woman in Boulder, I feel like this is a community where I would feel a sense of belonging and collaboration on campus which is really important to me. I love that we will also be working with alumni and leaders because I'd love to build connections with them and hopefully be inspired by the work they have contributed to their communities. I am excited to meet and form/strengthen relationships with other students in this program who have similar values as me.
I was born and raised in North Denver to two very unique parents whose engagement with political/social issues inspired my interest in social justice issues from a young age. My studies at CU Boulder have aligned with and prompted further interests regarding socioeconomic injustices and inequities facing those less privileged than I. As the daughter of an immigrant from Central America, issues pertaining to immigration and the harsh realities faced by immigrants have led to my eager desire to develop the skills to advocate for those in vulnerable and unsafe circumstances. I am eager to continue my academic and life journey to make tangible improvements in the lives of others and feel that with the guidance and knowledge from the Social Justice Scholarship program I will be even better equipped to do so.
My name is Makayla and I hope to spend my life seeing, listening, learning and advocating for those on the fringes of society. I love art, reading, writing, hiking, camping, being active and, most importantly, spending quality time with quality humans. My parents raised my sister and I to “leave the campsite better than we found it” and I believe this is how we make the world a more compassionate place. I cannot wait to take this idea and bring it to the Social Justice Scholars community.
I was very interested in the Social Justice Scholar program because my experience at CU has been one rife with racial and social hardships and I think of my being at CU as an act of resistance in which there are many ways I engage in social justice. I'm interested in seeing how this program can engage me and help me address social justice problems, especially those with personal diasporic meanings as I am Black and Somali.