Scholarship Winner Seeks 'Room to Grow'
Bradshaw hopes to emulate King through journalism, activism
By Stephen Gawlik
When aspiring journalist Alexandria Bradshaw '07 accepted an internship at Time Inc.'s This Old House magazine last summer, she anticipated lots of work and some late nights - and perhaps a few good tips about home improvement in the bargain.
What she didn't expect to find was a connection to legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
Bradshaw's editor at This Old House, which is based on the popular TV series, assigned her to interview J.W. Robinson, the architect who restored the birth home of Martin Luther King. The experience proved to be far more than a discussion about bricks and mortar, she says.
"I was moved by Mr. Robinson's dedication to preserving Dr. King's legacy through the gift of architecture," said Bradshaw. "He recalled [restoring King's home] as the greatest gift he had ever been given."
For Bradshaw, the architect's commitment to King's memory reflected "the effect I wish to have on my community through journalism."
Bradshaw is well on her way to accomplishing that goal. She was awarded the 2006 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship at the 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet held Feb. 15 in the Lyons Hall Welch Dining Room.
The King Scholarship, which provides 75 percent of senior year tuition, is presented each year to a Boston College junior who reflects King's philosophy in his or her life and work. Each candidate submits an essay on the impact of King's ideals on his or her life. Finalists are evaluated on academic performance and their extra-curricular and service activities.
"It's an honor to even be mentioned in the same breath as Dr. King," said Bradshaw after the award presentation. "To speak of him is a humbling experience."
As fate would have it, Bradshaw's roommate Omalara N. Bewaji also was a finalist for the scholarship, and Bradshaw has high praise for her friend. "Omalara is the real leader on this campus. She's eloquent and has knowledge beyond her years. I know it's rare to have a peer as a role model, but she is mine."
In addition to Bradshaw and Bewaji, the three other scholarship candidates, Felicia Jordan, Ritchy Philoctete and Jina Rameau, were honored at the Feb. 15 banquet. The event featured Nancy E. Norman, MD, an advocate and activist for equality in health care, as guest speaker, with additional remarks by University President William P. Leahy, SJ, and last year's winner, Chike Ibeabuchi '06.
If King has been one source of inspiration for Bradshaw, her years at BC have provided her with many others. One of her most compelling experiences was spending a week as part of a community-service program at the Jemenez Pueblo Native American reservation outside of Albuquerque, NM. She and other BC students lived in the community, assisting in home repair, preparing meals and tutoring high school students.
"My mother is of Blackfoot and Cherokee Indian heritage," said Bradshaw. "So I felt a connection with Native Americans that I had not experienced before."
A native of Washington, DC, Bradshaw cites her involvement in her high school's annual Black History Month theatrical shows as an important step in her development. She and a contingent of classmates wrote and produced the series of skits that made up the shows, and their efforts attracted attention from the community as well as the school.
One such show, which addressed racial profiling, was particularly memorable for her because of the strong reaction it provoked from the audience.
"We looked at the topic both from the national level and from the level of our school," said Bradshaw. "There was a lot of strong reactions to it and people were in tears. I think it was hard for a lot of people to accept.
"I'm not the kind of person to sweep things under the rug," she said. "Even in my in my involvement at BC I've learned that we have to address changes or there's no room to grow."
At Boston College Bradshaw has turned to journalism and student activism both inside and outside the classroom. Once a writer for The Heights, the communication and sociology double major is now active in the AHANA Leadership Council and is discussing plans with friends to begin a new literary journal at Boston College, with a focus on cultural and social issues.
The experience will put Bradshaw on a path to a bigger dream, she hopes.
"My dream is to start my own magazine that can connect with people and connect with the average American and makes them think," she said. "The publication would focus on younger, African-American women and it has to be a good read - not just about the latest trends and pop culture. We have enough of that already."