D’Jonita Cottrell ’19, an educational studies and psychology double major from Brockton, Mass., has won Colgate University’s 1819 Award.
Colgate’s most selective and prestigious prize, the 1819 Award is given to a student whose character, scholarship, sportsmanship, and service to others best exemplify the University’s spirit and the value of a liberal arts education.
Cottrell, the American-born child of immigrants, is the first in her family to attend college and has appeared on the dean’s list every semester — often with distinction. Her academic work has included research into under-resourced schools in the United States, legacies of racial apartheid in American urban spaces, and forced displacement in post-apartheid South Africa.
Outside the classroom, she is a co-president of Konosioni, the University’s senior honor society charged with preserving and promoting Colgate traditions. She has served as a first-year orientation leader and mentor on Linkstaff; worked in career services, welcoming visitors and answering questions on programming; and held a senior internship in the Office of Admission.
Co-leader of the DDT hip-hop dance group, Cottrell has been an active participant in the arts at Colgate. “Not only have I learned more about myself, my ability to work with others, and my capabilities as a leader,” she says, “but I have also contributed to an impactful sphere of Colgate life that binds our community together.”
Community has been Cottrell’s focus off campus as well. A Manzi Fellow at Julie’s Family Learning Program in Boston, she coordinated grant-funded research while fostering a safe intellectual environment for children ages 2 to 4. In Philadelphia, she worked with marginalized students to prepare them for the SATs and improve their college admissions essays.
“I seek to better understand others through everything I do,” she says. “I view this as an act of service, because it is this connection with others that gives me insight into their needs, passions, and goals, and further drives my efforts for positive change.”