W. E. B. Du Bois Department Announces Chester Davis Scholarship Recipients

The W. E. B. Du Bois Department has announced its recipients for this year's Chester Davis Scholarship: Bertovah Michel '22 and Zachary Steward '23. This award is named in honor of Chester Davis, a beloved professor and mentor who taught in the Du Bois Department for over 20 years.

NEWS Bertovah Michel and Zach Steward
Bertovah Michel (left) and Zach Steward (right)

Bertovah Michel is a graduating senior from Brockton, Massachusetts, who is completing a dual major in Afro-American studies and sociology. She is very involved on campus, serving as a resident assistant for Coolidge and the Harambee Defined Residential Community; handling public relations for UMass's NAACP chapter; and serving as a member in the Haitian American Student Association (HASA) and Black Student Union (BSU). Michel is currently completing a senior project on the gendered history of sexual violence in Jamaica during the age of slavery, under the supervision of assistant professor Anne Kerth. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a master's degree in public policy.

Zach Steward hails from Belmont, Massachusetts, and is a senior at UMass Amherst with a dual major in Afro-American Studies and legal studies. He is also a 4+1 master's student in the public policy program. On campus, he serves as a resident assistant; a peer advisor with the International Programs Office; and a student learning assistant with the athletics department.

Steward is also the chair of the Racial Justice Coalition, for which he has worked since the summer of 2020 to ensure that campus is racially and socially just, as well as a safe, welcoming, supportive space for BIPOC students, faculty, staff, and administrators. He hopes to go into a people-facing career in the future, whether in public policy, politics, social work, advocacy, activism, or something similar. Ultimately, he would love the opportunity to work with Black and Brown youth and young adults that have intersecting identities, and to make sure they have access to what they need in a timely manner. Steward's senior project, supervised by associate professor Toussaint Losier, studies the long history of Black student activism at UMass Amherst and connects it to current struggles and movements on campus.

This year, the faculty selection committee included W.E.B Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies professor and Chair Yolanda Covington-Ward; associate professor and director of undergraduate studies Britt Rusert; and professor Jim Smethurst.

The Chester Davis Scholarship was established to provide financial support to undergraduate students in the W.E.B Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. The scholarship is awarded annually to students majoring in Afro-American Studies with preference given to first-generation students with financial need. It honors Chester Davis, who was an early member of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, serving from 1971 to 1992. He helped recruit prominent activists and scholars for the department.

Learn more about the Chester Davis Scholarship.