The Associated Faculties of the University of Maine (AFUM) chapter at the University of Maine at Presque Isle has named two UMPI students as recipients of the UMPI AFUM George Floyd Memorial Scholarship. Renee Browning and Ines Ngoga each received a $300 scholarship.
Last year, the statewide union released an op-ed condemning racist acts, denouncing police brutality, and affirming its commitment to antiracism. An excerpt from the op-ed reads: “…we must do more than echo our common values of inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance, which are noble and necessary for change but not enough. We must live these values and act to protect the safety and dignity of every person in our community and strive in our actions for equality and justice.” As part of this work, AFUM chapters throughout the system have created scholarships and educational programs meant to nurture students and honor and remember George Floyd and others whose lives were taken.
The AFUM statewide union committed to giving each campus chapter matching funds up to $200 to help with a racial/social justice scholarship or event. The UMPI chapter establish the UMPI AFUM George Floyd Memorial Scholarship fund and was able to raise more than $500, bringing its total for the scholarship fund to $700. In late fall, the UMPI chapter sent out a call for applications asking students to submit brief statements about how the death of George Floyd affected them and what work they have done to advance social and racial justice in their communities.
“We had a strong pool of 10 candidates and we actually had a tie for the top spot, so instead of one $500 scholarship, we awarded two $300 scholarships to Renee Browning and Ines Ngoga,” UMPI AFUM Chapter Treasurer and Grievance Officer Dr. Lisa Leduc said. “Our hope is that those who receive these scholarships will expand upon their work to advance social and racial justice.”
Renee Browning is a senior Criminal Justice major at UMPI. She has participated in outreach work as part of her degree program that has involved working with people from many different backgrounds and traveling to different countries to work with people while addressing social justice issues.
“We worked with different forms of social justice including poverty, cultural issues, addiction, physical building needs, and even restorative work. Each time I was able to interact with people from different social groups, economic groups and ethnicities. This greatly impacted my perception of the world and of people and through these experiences I developed a better understanding of how I wanted to work with these individuals…,” Browning stated.
Ines Ngoga is a senior Biology major with a pre-med concentration. She has participated in racial and social justice activities both in-person and online, including participating in protests, sharing information, and signing petitions.
“Perhaps my greatest work has been with the Maine Policy Scholars program where I spent a year researching how to improve the University of Maine System non-discrimination policy. I wrote a policy recommendation memo to the Chancellor and am still actively working to bring those recommendations and improvements to life on our campuses to ensure that our non-discrimination policies are implemented properly,” Ngoga stated.
The UMPI AFUM chapter plans to fundraise within the campus union again this spring and summer so it can continue to award these scholarships every spring semester.