Student Story

Alexandra Bohanan '19 Looks to Gwen Ifill as an Icon

Congratulations to Alexandra Bohanan ‘19, recipient of the Ifill Scholarship!

As you look to the future, what are your goals and dreams for yourself?

My dream is to have enough money and stability to create art freely and help the next generation of artists of color realize their dreams. I also hope to work with museums to attempt to dispel the stigma around African arts and advocate for the equal value of art created by artists of color and women.

What professors have helped you reach your goals?

My communications family consists of Luke Romanak, Briana Martino, James Corcoran, Ellen Grabiner, Andy Porter, and Judith Aronson. All of these people have provided emotional support, helped me get crucial job opportunities and supported me as an artist. Most notably, Luke and Briana have acted as mentors and guiding hands to help me achieve my goals while also providing emotional support. Without them I wouldn't be able to be successful on a daily basis and I'm forever grateful for what they’ve done in my life. 

My arts administration family includes Margaret Hanni, Edie BreslerHeather Hole, and Bridget Lynch. All of these people have seen me at my worst and best, always helping me become a better version of myself. When I was lonely and depressed, Margaret provided so much support and care for my well-being, I owe her so much. Margaret is someone I see as a mentor and a strong woman who has educated me and loved me as her own. She took special care to integrate people of color into classroom discussions and is always available to provide academic and emotional support. Edie and Bridget have pushed me to become a better artist and Heather has been a great advisor.

What does the Ifill Scholarship mean to you?

As an African American student from Oklahoma, adjusting to the fast-paced city lifestyle has been a real challenge. I have found comfort in the legacy of Gwen Ifill '77, '93HD and the lessons that the strong women in my life share with me. I know that when you try your best as often as you can and work hard, good things are bound to come your way. As I began this year, I took on two jobs and a full course load. When my computer stopped working, I knew it was going to be a rough one. 

When I received the Ifill Scholarship, I was honored but it also felt like a blessing. All the hard work I’ve put in has paid off and now I’ll be able to more easily move through my last semester and into post-grad life. I look to Gwen as an icon of what is possible. That through all the hardships I have and will face as a Black woman operating in a society that wasn’t built for me, I can do anything I set my mind to. A strong conviction and the ability to produce quality work will get me far. Thanks to this scholarship, I'm closer to being able to create the quality work that will propel me into the professional world.

How do you think this scholarship will impact you, in terms of increased opportunity or the removal of barriers?

This scholarship will put me in a better position to graduate with less debt but also allow me to purchase a computer, something I've been without all semester. This is so crucial for me especially because of my field, digital communications. Without this scholarship, it would be difficult for me to be successful in my field post-grad because I wouldn’t have the necessary tools to create artwork.

How do you think students in the Gwen Ifill College will carry on her legacy and impact the world?

Gwen’s legacy is carefully represented every day in the faculty and staff of the arts administration and communications programs. The students feel it every day in the support and care that they provide as well as the energy they bring to the classroom. The mentorship in these departments pushes students to embody the values Gwen did and therefore, you can see a piece of her in ever Gwen Ifill College student. Just as Gwen changed landscapes and broke barriers, the students of this college will follow suit because it is at the core of our education. 

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