Anthony Smith, MCAS ‘19, was awarded the Boston College Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship at an awards banquet on Feb. 1.
The scholarship recognizes a “junior who has demonstrated superior academic achievement, extracurricular leadership, community service, and involvement with the African American community and African American issues both on and off campus.”
The winner receives a $19,000 scholarship towards senior year tuition.
Smith is an double major in the Africa and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) and history programs. While students majoring in AADS typically drop their other major, Smith is one of the first BC students to work towards the completion of a second major in addition to one in AADS.
Aside from engaging in a rigorous course load, Smith is also deeply involved on campus. He is the co-founder and president of the Boston College First Generation Club, and is a first generation university student himself.
“Navigating that experience you often feel alone,” said Smith. “No matter how much you can explain your experience to your family, they never quite get it.”
Smith stressed how close this club is to his heart and noted how incredible it feels to foster a community through his position of advocacy.
He is also a member of the AHANA+ Leadership Council and the Dedicated Intellectuals of the People.
“We challenge each other and hold each other accountable,” Smith described his experience in these clubs. “We make sure all identities are respected.”
Smith knew the MLK Scholarship was something he should apply for, but he never thought he would win. The application process became an opportunity for Smith to reflect on the trajectory of his BC experience: first starting out on Newton campus, where he was the only person of color on his floor and felt disconnected from BC as a whole, to getting involved in campus life and pinpointing his passions.
“My faith has been integral to everything—having faith that I will have some sort of impact,” Smith said.
Smith said it meant so much to have his family there at the awards ceremony. He was thankful that they were able to witness the culmination of his hard work at BC.
At the awards ceremony, he shared the platform with the MLK Scholarship finalists: Angela Arzu, Omolayo Ojurongbe, and Evan Palmer, all MCAS ‘19, and Bryan Paula Gonzalez, LSOE ‘19. Each received a $3,000 scholarship for their senior year tuition.
“We exist in relationship with each other; everyone inspired me,” Smith said.
Smith is the first male to win the scholarship in the past four years.
“I felt as though I was a representative of not only black men, but masculinity as a whole,” said Smith.
He also described the positive reaction of the BC community after he received this award.
“The amount of people who came up to me asking to get dinner and talk—people are watching even if you think they aren’t,” he said.
The question of “what comes next?” is a very exciting prospect for him.
Through the McNair Scholars Program, Smith will be participating in a community research program this summer to explore the under-representation of men of color in universities, as well as how to most effectively respond to this problem. The subject of this research is something Smith is very passionate about, as it is reflective of his own experience.
In the future, Smith is adamant about going to law school, but is also thinking about becoming a teacher.
“I’ve always thought of things as [being] is or or, but [perhaps they] can be both or and,” said Smith.