A passion for delving into the rich and multifaceted field of African American Studies ties seniors Aneesha Johnson and Andreia Wardlaw to pioneering Professor Grace Jordan McFadden.
“African American studies has opened my eyes to the multiple layers of academia that can be directly applicable to solving the social issues still plaguing our society today,” says Wardlaw, who won the Grace Jordan McFadden Award along with Johnson in fall 2017.
Granted to two students majoring or minoring in African American Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences’ honor encourages studying the diverse aspects of African American culture, life and history, and provides concrete financial support. McFadden was the first African American woman to earn tenure at the university's then College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
A history major pursuing a minor in African American Studies, Wardlaw served as the community service chair for the Multicultural Outreach Student Team and is currently the undergraduate research intern for the Center for Civil Rights History and Research. A South Carolina native, she is interested in the intersection of feminism and African American Studies throughout history. Wardlaw has conducted research with criminology and criminal justice professor Deena Scott Isom to explore gender and racial disparities in higher education institutions.
“I believe history and African American Studies are the avenues through which I will best be able to affect change as a student and eventually as a scholar.”
-Andreia Wardlaw, history major
Following graduation from the College of Arts and Sciences, she plans to pursue a doctorate and eventually become a historian specializing in African American women’s history in the late 19th century.
“I believe history and African American Studies are the avenues through which I will best be able to affect change as a student and eventually as a scholar,” says Wardlaw.
Likewise, the pursuit of an education in African American Studies has led Johnson to the next steps in her education.
“I am honored to see my academic efforts have received recognition from the incredible training I have received on my journey,” says Johnson. Her success in the classroom and in research will serve her well as she works towards a law degree following graduation.
Johnson, from El Paso, Texas, is a member of the Tau Sigma National Honors Society and is majoring in African American Studies. Her studies have led her to explore the impact that African descended people have had in America. Outside of the classroom, Johnson educates youth on consequences of tobacco, alcohol and drug use as a Health Rocks facilitator.
She also works as an intern at the Mary McLeod Bethune Museum and Art Gallery where she develops field trip programs for Sumter County Schools and assists with marketing.
McFadden brought African American Studies to life at the University of South Carolina. Students like Johnson and Wardlaw continue her legacy as they explore their own passions in the field.