Robert L. Decker and Benjamin Muns Friendship Memorial Scholarship

I’m delighted to announce that I won The Robert L. Decker and Benjamin Muns Friendship Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is meant to honor the potential of disabled graduate students. Because of the generosity of the Decker and Muns families, I will be able to spend the summer advancing my research and developing a community engagement project around that research.

Without these funds, I would have spent my summer working odd jobs from nannying to scraping together tutoring hours; I would not have had time for much research. Many graduate students (including myself in the past) spend their summers struggling to pay rent and afford food. This is a result of our contracts only guaranteeing pay from September-May. It’s rough, and we need to find better ways to ensure graduate students have funding year round than the chance of maybe receiving a merit based award or in demand summer teaching position. I recognize my privilege this summer as this scholarship will allow me to spend time developing my research project at the Audre Lorde Papers housed by Spelman College in Atlanta and traveling to various conferences.

In imagining her future and the futures of others, Audre Lorde writes, “My visions of a future I can create have been honed by the lessons of my limitations” (Cancer Journals 13). What we can make is shaped by our experiences and so too is what we can say. I will spend the summer thinking with Lorde’s work around the limits and possibilities of language. As such, I plan to use the funds to engage with the Audre Lorde Papers and to design a poetry workshop from that engagement. In the field of disability studies, there has been a recent call to frame Lorde within the history of the field (particularly her writings on cancer). I want to stay with her archives using the methodology of slow reading to feel through what possibilities exist in the texts. After I spend time with Lorde’s archive, I will return to Michigan State and host a poetry workshop for the East Lansing community. The workshop will be designed to translate my research for a wider public and make academic knowledge as accessible as possible.

If you want to learn more about the scholarship that is making all of this possible, visit the RCPD’s website.

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