By: Lydia Rogers~Staff Writer~
The time has come again for the Annual Antonio Johnson Leadership Award to be presented to one eligible Xavier student. This will be the 38th year that the Antonio Johnson Gala, during which the award winner is recognized, will be held on Xavier’s campus.
The scholarship is dedicated to the memory of Antonio Johnson, an active student in the Xavier community as well as a member of the Roman Catholic Church when he attended the university in 1971. Johnson served as the president of the Black Student Association (BSA) and organized the activities for Black Awareness Month in 1976. Johnson passed away that year at the age of 22 before he was able to see the product of his work.
“He was definitely a civic-minded and engaged student,” Interim Director of the Multicultural, Gender and Women’s Center Tekeia Howard said. “This award is a remembrance of why BSA exists.”
Awarding the scholarship and holding the gala represent an integral part of Xavier’s history.
“It’s important for Xavier to recognize that all of us came to be in different ways,” Howard said. “It’s also important to recognize all history, and this is a history of African American students and black students on campus.”
The scholarship has traditionally been awarded to a junior of African descent who has demonstrated academic excellence through his or her GPA, outstanding leadership or involvement on Xavier’s campus and in the community and a history of significant contributions to BSA or the Xavier community.
In order to be eligible to receive the scholarship, students who fit the criteria had to be nominated in the fall by a fellow student or a staff member. Students whose eligibility was confirmed had to then complete a student leadership profile.
“This gave them the opportunity to show us why they should be identified as an Antonio Johnson Scholar,” Howard said.
The candidates’ profiles were reviewed and ranked numerically. The students with the highest rankings were considered the finalists and they were then interviewed. The faculty and staff in charge of making the decision were given the opportunity to discuss the candidates further.
At this point in the process, the finalists have all been interviewed and are currently waiting to see who will be announced as the scholarship winner at the gala on April 11.
Once the award winner has been recognized, the recipient will be expected to develop a relationship with a mentor who will coach the recipient through his or her senior year in order to achieve his or her goals. The award winner will also be expected to participate in a service or research project meant to benefit Xavier’s Campus as a whole.