Kaitlyn Rule ’19  |   Published October 29, 2015

Wefenstette Prize

Joshua Washington ’16 is first recipient of new social justice scholarship
  • Senior Joshua Washington of Kankakee is the first recipient of the Brad Wefenstette Prize for Social Justice
Monmouth College’s Joshua Washington, a senior biochemistry major from Kankakee, is the first recipient of the Brad Wefenstette Prize for Social Justice, created by 2007 Monmouth graduate Kelli Wefenstette to honor her late brother.
  An advocate for social change, Brad died in August 2011, just as he was preparing to enter college to study criminal justice.   “We believe strongly in the transformative experience of higher education and enthusiastically supported Brad’s college plans,” said Wefenstette, who lives in Chicago and is married to Jimmy Thomas ’05. “To honor Brad’s endeavors for personal betterment, we seek to help others facing similar barriers pursue opportunities for education.”   Washington has already put the scholarship to good use, enrolling in a summer class to augment his Monmouth education. He plans to attend graduate school next fall to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.   He said he first heard about the new scholarship through his adviser, who knew Washington was involved in social change and thought it would be a good fit for him.   “I was excited, but also nervous at the same time,” recalled Washington of meeting with Wefenstette.   In addition to telling her about his passion for social change, Washington also shared with Wefenstette that he, too, had lost a sibling at a young age. Now, he’s inspired to create a scholarship for his late sister to help her name live on, either at Monmouth College or at the high school they both attended.   Asked his advice for students applying for the scholarship, Washington replied, “Be yourself, that’s number one.” If there’s something a person believes needs to be changed, he added, “Be that change.”   An involved student on campus, Washington serves as head resident of Cleland Hall, is vice president of UMOJA (an organization that promotes African American culture) and plays intramural basketball.   “My time at Monmouth has helped me achieve some of my goals for social change,” he said. “Being a resident assistant for two years then a head resident has enabled me to work with underclass students and help them turn into men. The UMOJA organization strives to break down stereotypes and judge individuals instead of an entire group. Instead of prejudices, there is unity.”   The scholarship has helped show Washington that “Monmouth cares about social change,” and that the college is committed to helping students overcome their negative mindsets.   Individuals interested in donating to the Brad Wefenstette Prize for Social Justice can do so online at www.crowdrise.com/bradwefenstette.
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