Oluwatoniloba (Toni) Eboda is a second-year student at Howard Community College (HCC) majoring in Criminal Justice, a member of the Rouse Scholars honors program, and a uniquely engaged member of the HCC and Howard County communities. She has worked to advance equity and well-being in her local communities through volunteer experiences at the Howard County Head Start program, the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services, and The Baltimore Station, a residential treatment program for veterans. Originally from Nigeria, Toni has developed a particular interest in the experiences of communities of color in the United States. For her second-year capstone project in the Rouse Scholars program, Toni has developed an ethnographic study of relationships between police and the African American community in Howard County based on surveys and interviews with African American residents, members of the Howard County Police Department, and public officials. Her goal with this original research is to consult a rich variety of community voices in order to create deeper understanding of a locally and nationally pressing issue.
I developed a great interest in social justice when I relocated to the United States a few years ago from Nigeria. Through conversations within my new community, I became aware of the marked disparities within the U.S. criminal justice system, specifically as they affect African Americans. I had the opportunity to attend a life-changing alternative winter break trip with my college that explored the social injustices that African Americans endure in relation to the justice system. Based on these experiences, I have focused my honors capstone project on investigating the relationship between the police and African Americans in my county. These experiences have ignited my passion for advocating for social justice for all, regardless of one's race, ethnicity, beliefs, disability and sexual orientation. I actively use my social media platforms to illuminate stories of injustice and speak out for greater equity, and I continue to serve with multiple organizations in my community.