EQuity Launches Scholarship Essay Competition

Justin Woods
Apr 13 · 3 min read

$5,000 on the line for emotional intelligence and racial justice

As a graduate student, I’ve walked out of classes, emailed deans, penned an op-ed, dropped an f-bomb in class, and written more than my fair share of professional “drag emails” all in the name of racial justice. Being a student who cares about racial justice and navigating higher education has been an emotionally tenuous journey. The instructor of one of the courses I walked out on presciently said, “If you want to continue doing this work, you’re going to have to figure out how to emotionally regulate, otherwise you’ll wear yourself out.” Four months later, I found myself sitting on a university therapist’s couch. So harmed and worn out from pushing back that I was considering no longer attending class, the therapist again directed me toward self-regulation.

While pushing against the grain, it became evident that I wasn’t alone in struggling to navigate emotions around racial dialogue in higher education. I’ve heard the surprise and fear that spurred a student in class to declare, “I feel like I’m being attacked.” Conversely, I’ve empathized with the disclosures of students of color who felt they had a finite amount of energy, and to engage on racial dialogue rarely left them the energy necessary to persevere through the rest of their day’s classes. In self-initiated meetings with faculty members, they candidly shared their own anxiety in initiating conversation on race in the classroom. They were fearful of students critiquing them for not being perfect in their own racial awareness, as well as receiving lower evaluations for generating the discomfort that comes with interrogating the privilege of the white majority students. Learning to navigate our emotions is essential to advancing racial justice.

Fortunately, grad school hasn’t been all micro-protests against anti-Blackness. It has also been a time and space where I’ve been able to meaningfully advance the passion project idea that I had long been carrying in my mind that is EQuity. In the past year, we’ve hosted numerous webinars, both independently and for paying clients. Our ideas took us to the finals of the Michigan Business Challenge. We’ve invested in our core social-emotional learning curriculum by piloting and evaluating it with a cohort of MSW students. Eager to continue to elevate the dialogue on race and emotions in higher education, we have something we’re very excited to share!

On April 19th, EQuity will release the prompt for our inaugural scholarship essay competition. EQuity sees the scholarship essay competition as an opportunity to amplify the dialogue around emotional intelligence and racial justice that EQuity was developed to cultivate. For students studying during a time of racial reckoning, we imagine they are well aware of the emotional thickets classroom dialogue on racial justice elicits. Additionally, the scholarship program is hopefully a way for us to increase visibility on our work in a way that invests $5,000 in a student in our community.

The specific details of our scholarship can be found on the scholarship information page on our website. To summarize the information here, students will need to submit an essay by our May 28th deadline to be eligible for the $5,000 prize. We would be remiss by not acknowledging our recognition that access to higher education is not accessible and equitable. Given our commitment to social equity, we look forward to having a second, open essay competition later this year.

We hope you share in our excitement of this program! We would like to invite you to support this initiative in one of all of the following ways:

  1. Share the scholarship link with any organizations, schools, or communities of students that you may know.
  2. Donate to our scholarship fund to ensure the longevity of the program.
  3. Sign-up for the first cohort of EQuity’s immersive course.

Race + Emotions

At the intersection of racial justice and emotional intelligence

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