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Spelman offers two scholarships for LGBTQ students through Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program

The school is also launching a lecture series that will examine race, gender and sexuality

Spelman College is expanding its diversity and inclusion with the announcement of two $25,000 scholarships that will be awarded to LGBTQ students. The college also plans to add a lecture series that will focus on the examination of race, gender and sexuality.

The Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program scholarships, established by Spelman professor Beverly Guy-Sheftall, will be awarded to two self-identified LGBTQ sophomores this year to “call attention to the importance of making visible the courageous and significant work of LGBTQ scholar activists within and beyond the academy, especially at HBCUs,” said Guy-Sheftall, cousin of Watkins Jr. and founder of Spelman’s Women’s Research and Resource Center.

Watkins Jr., the scholars program’s namesake, was a member of Spelman’s Women’s Research and Resource Center for seven years until his death in 2015. He was the first surgeon to implant an automatic heart defibrillator in a human during surgery, according to the press release, and also played a crucial role in influencing minority students to attend Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Guy-Sheftall also pledged $100,000 to launch a lecture series that will include several national and global scholars, activists and organizers to address and speak on race, gender and sexuality issues often faced by the black community. These lectures will take place on campus at the Women’s Center.

“[T]his gift will present new opportunities for critical conversation on race and sexuality with distinguished scholars and thought leaders, and provide a platform to recognize campus LGBTQ advocates and their scholarly achievements,” Spelman president Mary Schmidt Campbell said.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.