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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Kappa Alpha Psi presents 2023 Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr. Awards

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Jacob Wendler/Daily Senior Staffer
Bienen senior Olivia Pierce, one of two recipients of this year’s Dr. Clinton Bristow, Jr. award.

The Theta Alumni Association of Northwestern’s oldest historically Black Greek lettered organization, the Theta chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, presented two NU students with awards in honor of Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr. Friday afternoon in Norris University Center.

Communication senior Rahma Ndao and Bienen senior Olivia Pierce accepted the awards for their academic excellence and contributions to the NU community.

The award, now in its third consecutive year, grants two outstanding Black undergraduates $1,917 — a nod to the Theta chapter’s founding year.

Maya Bristow Klein, Clinton Bristow Jr.’s daughter, thanked the Kappas and NU for acknowledging her father’s contribution to Black social life at NU. 

“My dad was a true leader in every sense of the word,” Klein said. “I always say I loved him so much that my emotions attached to him, they’ll never go away.”

Bristow (SESP ’71, Pritzker ’74, TGS ’77) dedicated his life to education and fighting inequality. He earned his Bachelor’s, J.D. and Ph.D. degrees from NU and was one of twelve African American men who were initiated at the Theta Chapter as members in 1968.

Bristow ultimately became president of Alcorn State University, where he gained national attention over his efforts to increase the number of enrolled international students. He also served as president of the Chicago Board of Education until his unexpected death in 2006.

James Hill (Weinberg ‘69, Feinberg ’74), one of the five living members of the 1968 line, and Dan Davis (Communication ’69, SESP ’78 MA/MS) — Dean of the “Black is Beautiful” 1968 Theta line and a former NU basketball player — joined for the ceremony. Hill said Bristow was like a brother to him — they were roommates and ended up in graduate school at the same time.

“Despite being my brother and being of the same age, (he was) somebody I always wanted to emulate,” said Hill. “He’s the only servant leader I can think of that I’ve actually seen develop into a leader. A servant leader is somebody who’s empathetic, who listens, who is a mentor and is committed to personal growth and everybody they come in contact with. That was somebody Clinton was.”

The Theta Alumni Association seeks to award undergraduate students who demonstrate similar commitments to achievement as exemplified by Clinton Bristow Jr., according to the Theta Alumni Association website. 

To be eligible for the Bristow Award, students must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be actively involved in both the NU community and community service. Applicants submitted an essay describing their future career aspirations and the role of their NU education in achieving these goals.

Bristow Award Committee Chairman Robert Dixon (Weinberg ‘94) said Ndao and Pierce stood out among applicants for their academic and extracurricular achievements. 

Ndao plans to pursue a dual degree program for a master’s in business administration and law, and received the 2021 African Leadership Award. At NU, she is involved in the Black Mentorship Program, Women in Business and Black Formal.

Pierce aspires to be a music educator. She is a John Walt Foundation scholarship recipient, which supports musicians in the greater Chicago area passionate about building community through creative pursuits. She serves as a peer research mentor and assistant programming coordinator at the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at NU.

“It is a great honor to be here today to present two phenomenal awardees who are really following the legacy of Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr.,” Dixon said. “This generation of Black students on campus (is) coming out of the COVID era, — many of them started school online under conditions that would make it hard for anyone to not only pursue academic excellence, but to even keep their eyes focused on their own communities and — to still remain engaged and involved.”

Correction: A former version of this article misattributed James Hill’s quote to Dan Davis. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @noracollins02

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