MAMA MARY SCHOLARSHIP [undergraduate]
Gyrell Morrow is our 2018 recipient of the Mama Mary Scholarship. She is currently a sophomore majoring in Business Marketing with a minor in Communications at Chicago State University. She is a member of the Delta Alpha Freshman Honor Society, is listed on the President's Honor Roll having maintained a cumulative 4.0 GPA, and served as 2017-2018 Miss Freshman. Her platform focused on self-acceptance and healthy communication for young women in the CSU community.
She describes herself as "an intelligent, goal-oriented woman of God determined to create and encourage my community." She is the youngest of five in a strong family of educators and caregivers who always encourage her to be the change she wants to see in the world. Instilled with early teachings from her father, she believes "to educate someone is God's will and that my mind is my strongest muscle." Mentor Nicole Richardson has observed that Gyrell "serves as a role model for other students" and has invited Gyrell to conduct workshops that "encourage young women to see greatness in themselves and to feel free to share their light."
MAMA AUDRE SCHOLARSHIP [graduate]
Cierra Presberry is our 2018 recipient of the Mama Audre Scholarship. She is a doctoral student in Michigan State University’s Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education program. Her research examines the use of restorative practices within predominantly Black schools. Her work also centers notions of equity, justice, and care, particularly among institutions that serve traditionally marginalized students. Regarding her work with blackgirls, she notes: “They see us when they want to see us. While working toward dismantling racist and patriarchal structures that inhibit the wellbeing of Black girls and women is important, what has become equally important is acknowledging the myriad ways that Black girls live and express themselves.”
As a former special education teacher, she has worked with elementary and secondary school students in Detroit. As a graduate assistant, she instructs and supports pre-service teachers and is interested in continuing to work with teacher preparation programs in order to better prepare future teachers for work in urban schools. For the future of her work, Dr. Terry Flennaugh writes: “She has never stopped questioning, thinking, and adapting her practice to fit the needs of her students and the children our prospective teachers will one day serve... I see Cierra’s research being able to speak to both academics and practitioners in powerful ways that can result in the advancement of meaningful change for those students most impacted by institutional and systemic marginalization.”
She is the proud mother of Tommy Jr. and centers this identity as a driving force of her work: “In coming to know my value as a Black woman, I have had tremendous help from my son. Being a mother has made everything clearer, more impactful, more urgent.”