Beinecke Scholarship WinnerGAMBIER, Ohio - Kenyon students certainly earn their share of awards, but English major Janae Peters '10 is in elite company. She's one of just twenty-one students in the United States to win a prestigious Beinecke scholarship for graduate studies.
The Beinecke Scholarship Program provides $4,000 immediately before a student enrolls in graduate school and another $30,000 while attending. Peters's dream of continuing her education is now in sharper focus. She has a keen interest in the study of slave narratives.
"It's a big honor and a huge relief for me," she said. "It means that my goals of attending graduate school are more realistic now." After graduation this May, Peters will work for a year as a teaching intern in the English department at the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, then go on to graduate studies.
Starting in Cleveland's John F. Kennedy High School, Peters has seized opportunities through Kenyon programs to accelerate her education. Her first taste of college academics came through the Kenyon Academic Partnership (KAP) Program, which provides credit for selected courses taught in high school with College oversight. She took courses in biology, English, and American government.
"From that point on, I was really serious about my studies and appreciated the opportunities presented to me," she said. Peters also attended the on-campus Kenyon Summer KAP program before her senior year in high school and the on-campus Kenyon Educational Enrichment Program (KEEP) in the summer before her first year at Kenyon. During her junior year, she participated in the Kenyon Exeter Program in Great Britain.
Her interest in slave narratives was sparked during a KEEP course that included the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison. That course was taught by Sarah Heidt, assistant professor of English, who has become a mentor to Peters. "She didn't take it easy on us, and I appreciated that," Peters said of Heidt. "She introduced us to the expectations our professors would have. I saw how hard I needed to work, but that it's possible."
Heidt said Peters is a determined and dynamic student as well as a respected community leader. "What's most exciting to me about her having won a Beinecke is that this scholarship was designed to encourage future leaders and groundbreakers into graduate study," Heidt said. "And Janae has it in her to be game-changer, someone who will help us both to see literary works anew and to reconceptualize the way higher education itself should work."
Peters has also been a research assistant in sociology to Ric Sheffield, associate provost and associate professor of sociology and legal studies. "That has broadened what research means to me and influences my literary work as well," she said.
The Beinecke Scholarship Program, based in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania, was established in 1971 by the Board of Directors of The Sperry and Hutchinson Company to honor Edwin, Frederick, and Walter Beinecke. An endowment provides substantial scholarships for the graduate education of highly motivated undergraduates with exceptional promise. Since 1975 the program has selected more than 430 college juniors from 100 different colleges. Scholarship students must pursue graduate school in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.