Nia Washington is the recipient of the Africana Studies and Business Services Dining Stipend Award. The Africana Studies minor was chosen for the award from a group of applicants based on her academic standing, community involvement and a personal essay. The UCF Africana Studies and Business Services Dining Stipend is an All Access 7 Dining Meal Plan Stipend for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters, valued at $3,960.
Washington started her first semester at UCF this fall after transferring from Valencia College. The sophomore plans to attend law school but is studying English literature and minoring in Africana Studies while she pursues her bachelors at UCF.
“I originally wanted to study pre-law,” says Washington. “But, I was told English lit is a great track to go on if you’re going to law school.”
When trying to determine what she wanted to study while at UCF, advisors suggested that Washington prepare for law school by strengthening her writing skills with an English major. One of the advantages of following an English focused track is the ability to craft better arguments during and after law school. When it came declaring a minor in Africana Studies, Washington says that process started before becoming a Knight.
“I took my first Africana Studies course and I just went ballistic. I just wanted to know everything,” says Washington.”
For Washington, suddenly being presented with the history and information about her own people was one of her biggest eye opening moments. The more she learned, her desire to gain more knowledge continued to grow. At one point, she considered declaring it her major and making it her main area of study.
Having such large portions of the African diaspora omitted from history lessons throughout middle and high school can frame the rich history of the continent and its people in a negative light for students. Washington says having a more complete picture that didn’t solely depict Africa as desperately impoverished nations has helped create a connection to her ancestry and minimize some insecurities.
“It’s sad that we have to wait until college to take an African American studies class that should be taken in middle school and high school,” said Washington. “I wish I could have known about these beautiful black people.”
While she plans to graduate in 2020, Washington has her eyes set on attending law school at an Ivy league school.
“Once I graduate, I want to give back to my community. I want to help teach our kids who they are.”