Graduate Student Tia Canada ’22MED Selected to Receive NC State’s Witherspoon Graduate Fellowship
Tia Canada ’22MED, a graduate student in the NC State College of Education’s higher education administration program, has been selected as one of seven graduate students to receive NC State’s Witherspoon Graduate Fellowship.
The fellowship was created to honor the accomplishments of Augustus M. Witherspoon, Ph.D., who was the second Black graduate student to receive a doctoral degree from NC State University and the first Black professor to work at NC State. He later served as an assistant dean, the associate dean of The Graduate School and associate provost of the Office of African American Affairs.
The Witherspoon Fellowship is awarded to students entering into the second year of graduate study in their degree program who have demonstrated experience in or commitment to supporting Black communities within and beyond NC State’s campus.
“I always said I did not understand how important my Blackness was until I came to NC State, so being selected for a fellowship dedicated to a prominent figure in our Black campus community and campus history and to receive recognition from people who have seen my work within the community is a beautiful and somewhat full-circle moment,” she said.
While earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from NC State, Canada was heavily involved in the Black community and African American Cultural Center, where she served as the president of the AYA Ambassadors. She has also served on a state and national level as the vice president of the College Democrats of North Carolina/America Black Caucus.
As a graduate student in the College of Education, Canada’s scholarship has focused on the sense of belonging among Black students and women in higher education, and she has served as a member of the Black Graduate Student Association and as the chair of the Young Democrats of North Carolina Black Caucus.
This work, she said, has been able to combine her background in political science and community organization with her scholarship, love for her community and aspirations to pave the way for future generations of Black women.
“This is something that defines an important aspect of my identity and helps me to focus on my ‘why’ for many things that I do,” she said. “It is also important for me to be involved because of the way I would like to pave the way for my younger sister and other Black people — women in particular — who may want to go down a similar path. I want to do for others what many loving and courageous people have done for me.”