Four Wilder Students Receive “Black History in the Making Awards”
By Tiffany Murray-Robertson
Each year, members of the Virginia Commonwealth University community cap off the celebrations and remembrances of Black History Month with a special awards ceremony that recognizes the contributions of emerging African-American leaders.
Presented by the VCU Department of African American Studies, the Black History in the Making Awards are presented to students of color for outstanding achievement or promise in academics, career or community. Recipients are selected from across the university and represent the best and brightest from more than 50 different departments and organizations.
This year, four Wilder School students were among those honored. The 32nd annual Black History Awards took place on February 17 at the Grace Street Theater. Wilder School recipients included:
BreAuna Beasley, a doctoral candidate in Public Policy and Administration and an undergraduate instructor. Beasley has received numerous awards for her groundbreaking scholarship in improving the health and well-being of women and girls in rural areas. She is the author of a book chapter and two forthcoming articles to be published in peer-reviewed journals. Beasley says she hopes to “not only advance the livelihood and health outcomes of socially marginalized populations” but also to “inspire future scholars to pursue research and the creation of multi-faceted public policies.”
Mo Alie-Cox (B.S. ‘15), a first-year graduate student in Criminal Justice and a starting forward for the VCU Men’s basketball team. Alie-Cox developed the first summer basketball camp at the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice and received the first-ever paid internship with McGuire Woods Consulting this past fall. He has played a prominent role for the Rams in the last two years, playing on teams that have won 57 games and been to two consecutive NCAA tournaments. Despite a demanding schedule, Alie-Cox has maintained an impressive academic focus—earning not one but two degrees in record time.
Javon Davis, a second-year graduate student in Public Administration and a role model for integrating classroom theory into relevant, practical experience. Davis is a second-year Wilder Graduate Scholar Fellow at the Virginia Department of Corrections where he is responsible for assessing offender classifications based on a complex set of contextual and policy considerations. Last summer, he was selected as a Governor’s Fellow, a prestigious appointment in the office of the Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. Prior to resuming his graduate studies, Davis worked for the Virginia Department of State Police and the city of Richmond.
Shekinah Mitchell, a first-year graduate student in Urban and Regional Planning, who is actively engaged in the Richmond community. Mitchell works with the nonprofit, Urban Hope, to advocate for affordable housing opportunities for Richmond residents. She helps to facilitate the construction and renovation of affordable housing, provide financial counseling and support qualifying families as they develop an ownership stake in their community.