CMC student wins highly competitive Beinecke Scholarship

Toluwani Roberts ’22 has won a 2021 Beinecke Scholarship to fund her pursuit of graduate work in African Diaspora Studies, with a focus on religious studies. Roberts is one of 16 students out of 95 nominees from across the U.S. to receive the substantial $34,000 scholarship, which supports degrees in the traditional arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Mukasa Mubirumusoke, assistant professor of Africana Studies at CMC, was one of three faculty to recommend Roberts’ Beinecke nomination.

“Toluwani exhibits a combination of tenacity, curiosity, and genuine care for the political and social issues she is interested in,” he said. “I was very excited and, honestly, not surprised that Toluwani received the scholarship. The work and dedication speak for itself.”

Since 1975, the Beinecke Scholarship Program has selected more than 680 college juniors from more than 110 different undergraduate institutions for support during graduate study. The program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue available opportunities and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study. Each scholar receives $4,000 upon completion of undergraduate studies and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school.

As a Mellon Mays Fellow and Africana Studies major, Roberts has spent the past year researching the historic relationship between Black resistance and Afro-diasporic religions, and is currently exploring the contemporary manifestations of this relationship.

Roberts, who is from Lagos, Nigeria and New York City, is also an accomplished poet, a writing consultant, and a developing guitarist. She describes herself as “a future scholar-activist-healer” and plans to pursue an MA or PhD in Africana and Religious Studies. Roberts is considering applying to UPenn, UC Berkeley, UT Austin, or Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria for graduate school.

Brian Davidson ’08, director of fellowships advising at CMC, described the Beinecke scholarship application process as “particularly challenging.” But Roberts’ application was “masterful,” he said.

“She wove together her interest in African diasporic religions with an analysis of Black Christianity and contemporary social movements, as well as the fieldwork that she was able to conduct in Ecuador through the Appel Fellowship and her personal devotion to art and poetry.

“Toluwani is both intellectually brilliant and creatively gifted. I can't wait to see what kind of work she will do in the future!” Davidson said.

Anne Bergman


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