ROBESON SCHOLARS INITIATIVE
The Robeson Scholars Initiative was introduced in 2022 to celebrate the life and legacy of Paul Robeson by honoring the talent and activism of NJ youth leaders. Spearheaded by our very own Dr. Joy Barnes-Johnson, the program identified six exceptional students in its inaugural year.
My parents and I gave up everything — I, my name; my parents, their jobs, house, and family members — to migrate to America in search of better opportunities. While I was hopeful for better opportunities in the U.S., we struggled to survive in our new environment. Despite these challenges, I am thankful for my parents’ sacrifices and am determined to pursue higher education to help improve the circumstances of Black families like my own. I work with the BELE Network and the National Equity Project to co-design a more equitable and healing-centered school environment for all students. I am confident that with the resilience and determination that I have gained through overcoming the challenges that I faced as a Black immigrant, I will succeed and create a better world for students of color everywhere in America.
I imagine every human being on Earth being on the same boat. Every person on this boat has their own differences but we are in the midst of this giant storm, and we are all trying to get over this huge wave of pure dread…I want my voice to be the sunshine that comes from behind the clouds…showing the beauty…that it is POSSIBLE to overcome this wave. I don’t want my voice to just promote justice, I want my voice to encourage equity, acceptance, FEELINGS, all over the Earth because ultimately, we can do it. For all, we are in the same boat.
I have created and joined multiple resources for myself and my peers to talk about their struggles whether it’s mental health, struggles with being a POC, or struggles with being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and etc. I am a leader in my club C.A.R.E which stands for Cultural and Racial Equity and also a part of the Student Advisory committee where we work hand in hand with our principal Mr. Chmiel. My talent of being a great soccer player has affected my personality positively to help with my social justice work. As a goalkeeper you need to be loud on the field, you are the eyes of the whole game and with that power comes great responsibility. I use this responsibility to be not just loud on the field, but also in my community when it comes to social justice issues.
Athletes are more than players playing their sport, they are entertainers and influencers. In society, there always seems to be a wave of athletes pushing awareness toward causes. I aspire to be one of those athletes that not only get to fulfill my own dream but to help others fulfill their own dreams. I could use my talents to address healthcare issues, racial inequality, and world peace.
I envision a world with awareness for women, girls, transgender men, and non-binary people who menstruate and ending period stigma. However, many people don’t have a complete or accurate understanding of menstruation as a natural biological process. Education on menstruation can build confidence, contribute to social solidarity and eliminate stigma. Ending period stigma is what I envision for change…Everyone benefits from normalizing menstruation as it creates a more gender-equal society, whether it’s one of your biological functions or not. I’m making a difference in my community and developing a deeper understanding of how global problems can have partial solutions by simply starting at my school.
I think for a lot of us, creating a change seems like a really hard task to do, and it is, but no one really ever said it’d be easy. It depends on you. We should all begin with asking ourselves; “Are we committed? One of my main hobbies/talents is art/graphic design. Of course, I love to draw and design for fun and pleasure…We should all take the time to see what we can do to make change, whether it be big or small. Every human has a talent, find it and use it to make a difference…
“… we see the development of a new spirit, a new motive power in American life. It will be the purpose of this new spirit to cherish and strengthen the heritage and freedom for which [humanity] has toiled… it is therefore the task of this new spirit to make national unity a reality, at whatever sacrifice, and to provide full opportunities for the development of everyone…” — Paul Robeson, 1919