Nifemi Olugbemiga, Connecticut College class of 2020 and Posse scholar from Chicago, is an extraordinarily talented student leader and activist for racial justice and racial healing; she is an involved citizen on campus and in the local community; and she is the very definition of engaged scholar. She has served as a catalyst for change on our campus as a student leader in our black student union, Umoja, and with our Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity. She has been a powerful student voice in efforts to recognize and celebrate the contributions of faculty of color on our campus. As a scholar, Nifemi has distinguished herself as double major in Africana Studies and Psychology, already working towards an honors thesis focusing on racial identity development and mental health; she has presented this and other collaborative engaged scholarship at local, regional, and national conferences. She is a State of CT Domestic Violence Crisis Counselor working with Safe Futures in New London, and an academic tutor on and off campus. In sum, this remarkable young woman is a powerhouse: a change-maker; an engaged citizen; and a person who we all believe will have significant public impact in the future.
I am a student leader whose activism reflects an old African philosophy of Ubuntu which states, "I am because we are." This belief embraces the fact that humans cannot exist in isolation. This philosophy is the foundation of my commitment to self- and collective-care, activism, and artistic expression as ways of promoting mental health and engaging in resistance for young people like me who face discrimination due to different aspects of their identity. Through my my majors of Africana Studies and Psychology I developed the skillset to create an inclusive program on our campus called "Volume" which provides a space for students of color and underrepresented students to express their own narratives through whatever art form they choose in an annual performance. I have also used these skills to engage in the local community as an intern at a domestic violence shelter providing culturally-sensitive case management and emergency hotline support, and as an engaged scholar supporting the creation of a Latinx mental health alliance, and examining the experience of race-based trauma in young adults of color. All of my engagement fosters the idea that my existence is made whole through your existence and so I must stand for us.