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Kapurura Wins Annual MLK Jr. Scholarship

Kudzai Kapurura—this year’s recipient of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship—said she began to recognize the importance of the scholarship after being invited to be a student keynote speaker at its ceremony her freshman year.

“I was just beginning to understand how powerful the MLK Scholarship really was in terms of leadership, in terms of recognition of a student leader on campus,” Kapurura, MCAS ’23, said.

Kapurura was announced as the winner at the 40th anniversary celebration of the MLK Scholarship on Tuesday night.

The MLK Scholarship is awarded to a Boston College junior who excels in academics, extracurricular leadership, service, and involvement on and off campus with the African American community, according to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Committee website.

As the recipient, Kapurura will receive up to $19,000 toward her tuition senior year and a $1,000 gift certificate to the BC Bookstore. The four other finalists will receive a $3,000 tuition scholarship and a $1,000 gift certificate to the bookstore.

Over the past three years, Kapurura said she connected with many previous scholarship recipients, including Latifat Odetunde, MCAS ’22, and Shakalah Thompson, MCAS ’21. She said their simple but impactful words stood out to her the most.

“I always feel like whenever I would talk to the leaders, it was always the simplest words, but the most wise and the most deep,” she said.

Kapurura said these conversations, in addition to her own research on the power of the Civil Rights Movement and the power of King, prepared her to apply for the scholarship this year.

“By junior year, I felt very led to go ahead and apply for something like this regardless of the win or loss, understanding that the goal is just leadership and service,” she said.

Kapurura is involved with Courageous Conversations, a program that facilitates conversations on racial justice at BC. She is also a second-year RA and an ambassador at the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC).

This March, Kapurura will be a student leader on the Magis Civil Rights Immersion Trip hosted by the BAIC. The trip brings students to civil rights sites throughout the South, she said. One particular place Kapurura said she looks forward to visiting is Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama.

“He’s a very strong and righteous leader, and so to have gotten to visit his H.Q. in Montgomery, Ala. when I was a freshman was very special, and to get to visit there again for the second time, and now to lead other students through that learning experience, I think will be very, very powerful,” she said.

Kapurura has also delivered two TED Talks—one in 2017 titled “We are We.” and one in 2021 titled “How to Live a Meaningful Life.”

Kapurura said she always tries to advance justice in whatever spaces she finds herself in.

“Any space that I get, I try to add that lens of ‘How are we thinking about justice [and] progress,’ regardless of whether or not that group or that space was originally intended for justice or progress,” she said.

For Kapurura, the MLK Scholarship recognizes leadership.

“The award to me means you have been recognized as a student leader on a great platform,” she said. “I think it’s just as important to remember those who are not recognized on that platform are also just as powerful leaders.”

Kapurura said she was encouraged to know she was just one recognized leader of many at Tuesday’s event. The eagerness of leaders to seek service, change, and justice, enables society to progress, according to Kapurura.

“I still am so humbled, so grateful, so honored, but I can still be encouraged that I am not the only one,” she said. “I am just one recognized leader of many.”

Kapurura also said watching the other finalists’ speeches on Tuesday allowed her to realize their capacity to spark change.

“We all have the capability to create great change in all of our radically different spaces,” Kapurura said.

In her acceptance speech, Kapurura recounted attending her first scholarship ceremony her freshman year, discussing the importance of lifting others as you climb.

“I was talking about how important it is to continue, as we are now recognized as student leaders, to continue to now lift others as we climb, because we were lifted as others climbed,” she said.

Kapurura said she was honored to receive the award as a first-generation American, as she appreciates the sacrifice her parents made immigrating from Zimbabwe.

“I’m so humbled and so grateful to be here now and to be able to represent them and to pay homage to their sacrifice in immigrating,” she said.

According to Kapurura, the ceremony was the first time her whole family has been in Boston together. She said getting to receive that award together as a family was incredibly special.

“[I’m] so thankful for my family for just always supporting me and always just being there with me,” she said. “Regardless of how far I am, they will always show up and … encourage me.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Flavio Debarros / University Communications

February 24, 2022