Two FSU Seniors Win National Award for Social Action

Two FSU Seniors Win National Award for Social Action

Mar 8, 2017

What began as an idea to make women of color more visible and empowered on campus, has grown into a multi-campus effort and earned two FSU seniors national recognition.

Sociology majors Kenetra Hinkins and Adebusola Ajao have been honored with a National Undergraduate Social Action Award from Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS).The social action award is given annually to a student or a team of students who make substantial contributions toward improving the lives of women in society through activism, according to the SWS website.

Hinkins and Ajao formed the group BGMT in 2015, which originally stood for Black Girls Matter Too, but was changed to Brilliance, Guidance, Melanin, Togetherness, in order to be more inclusive to all women.

“We wanted to give other women of color a platform as well,” says Hinkins. “We are here for all women.”

The group, which currently has about 60 active members at FSU, organizes protests, photoshoots, talent showcases and other events designed to empower women. The events are focused on discrimination toward women in the criminal justice system and within society as a whole.

“We decided it was our job to create a space where women of color can come together, be themselves and have the freedom to speak on these woes without being judged or misunderstood,” the pair wrote in their nomination essay. Their efforts have expanded to other local campuses, including Bridgewater State University and UMass Dartmouth.

Other members of the group’s e-board include students Khalima Botus-Foster and Adetoke Alabi. Sociology Professor Virginia Rutter nominated Hinkins and Ajao for the Social Action Award in the fall.

“They are highly effective students and active members of their communities—here and at home,” Dr. Rutter wrote in her nomination letter. “They have demonstrated imaginative and entrepreneurial acumen for social organizing that doesn’t follow any one form, but instead uses resources ranging from campus networking to social media to empower and inform.”

Hinkins and Ajao said they felt like they had a great chance to win the award.

“I looked at the winners from previous years and thought we were doing great things by comparison,” says Ajao, who wants to work with at-risk youth after she graduates. “But I didn’t fully appreciate how big the award was until after I found out we won.”

They were originally scheduled to travel to the annual SWS Conference in New Mexico in February to receive the award and give a presentation on their work, but had to cancel due to weather. Now they are scheduled to attend an even larger event – a conference in Montreal in August with SWS, as well as the American Sociological Association.

“At first I was disappointed when we had to cancel, but now I feel like we are getting an even bigger platform, so it’s exciting,” says Hinkins, who plans to attend graduate school and hopes to work in educational policy.

In addition to preparing to present at the national conference, Hinkins and Ajao are searching for students to keep BGMT going after they graduate.

“If you see us around campus, let us know if you have interest in what we are doing,” says Ajao. “We are going to be out of here in less than a year and we want this legacy to continue.”

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.