Two Social Science seniors win Richard Lee Featherstone Endowed Prize

May 5, 2021 - Annie Dubois

Social science seniors Janet Ibarra and Jasmine Jordan, as well as James Madison senior Abii-Tah Chungong Bih, have been named the 2021 recipients of the Richard Lee Featherstone Endowed Prize.  

The prize is traditionally given to the most outstanding MSU graduating senior as determined by the Featherstone Nomination Committee, to be used for future growth and development, travel, graduate study, or meditation. The 2021 nominations were of such exceptional quality that the Featherstone Nomination Committee decided to make three awards.


Janet Ibarra

Janet Ibarra, a graduating senior earning a B.A. in Social Relations & Policy and Political Science with a minor in Chicano/Latino Studies, has demonstrated sustained involvement in local, state, and federal government during her time at MSU. Janet has held positions such as Legislative Intern for U.S. House of Representatives Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, Campaign Organizer for Abdul El-Sayed’s Gubernatorial Campaign, and a Congressional Intern for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. 

As a Mexican American and first-generation college student, Janet’s upbringing inspired her to attend MSU to achieve her dream of providing service to her community through immigration policy reform. In line with her goals, Janet was accepted into the Social Science Scholars Program, where she embarked on a two-year long research project, ‘How the Trump Presidency Affected Undergraduate Students,’ which will be published in an annual collection of undergraduate social science research at MSU.

During her time at MSU, Janet has accumulated a portfolio of leadership positions. She is the Founder and President of Civil Rights for Immigrants at MSU and Public Relations Chair for the Bridge Scholars program. She has also been involved as Affiliate Chair for Culturas de Las Razas Unidas and Site Leader of the International Engagement in Mexico program. For her expansive leadership and professional experience, Janet has been awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing Inclusion through Research Award, the Salute to Latinas: Fuerza de la Mujer award, and the Exceptional Emerald Award. 

After graduation, Janet hopes to gain acceptance to a public policy fellowship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington DC before attending law school. 

Jasmine Jordan

Jasmine Jordan, a graduating senior earning a B.A. in Political Science with minors in Educational Studies and African American and African Studies, has completed robust research during her time at MSU while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Jasmine began her research portfolio as a first-year student with Dr. Terry Flennaugh, completing studies about MSU Housing and Campus Climate as well as Alienation and Isolation of Minority Students at PWIs. Jasmine was also the Team Lead on a research project covering Minorities in American High School Textbooks and was a Research Assistant for Dr. Nazita Lajevardi’s research, The Causes and Consequences of Racial Hierarchies.

In addition to her expansive research, Jasmine has gained leadership experience on MSU’s campus as President of the Council of Students with Disabilities, Student Representative for the MSU Task Force on Racial Equity, and Student Representative for the Honors College Inclusive Excellence Strategic Committee. Jasmine has also served as a Legal Intern—and later as Chief of Staff—for Good Counsel Services, a nonprofit organization in New York. 

For her expansive academic achievements, Jasmine has been awarded prestigious honors, namely as a Marshall Scholarship National Finalist, Rhodes Scholarship National Finalist, and Gates Cambridge Scholar. Jasmine has also been awarded a Dean’s Assistantship Research Grant, Black Faculty’s Undergraduate Emerging Leader Award, and Social Science Outstanding Leader Award.

After graduation, Jasmine will be attending Cambridge University as a Gates Cambridge Scholar, where she will pursue an MPhil and continue her passion for criminal justice reform and racial equity. 

The Richard Lee Featherstone Endowed Prize was created in 1986 by a group of MSU College of Education alumni to celebrate Dr. Richard Lee Featherstone’s life and contributions to scholarship, research and leadership. Qualifications for the award winner(s) include status as an MSU senior, an open, curious, creative approach to education and ideas, as well as intellectual ingenuity. Additionally, the award recipient(s) must demonstrate exceptional character and leadership in enriching the lives of others and a commitment to community service and lifelong learning.

Abii-Tah Chungong Bih

Abii-Tah Chungong Bih, a graduating senior earning a B.A. in International Relations and Comparative Cultures and Politics, has accrued an impressive list of academic accomplishments. She is a member of the MSU Honors College, finalist for the Rhodes Global Scholarship, and Student Body President of the Associated Students of Michigan State University. As a first-generation international student, Abii-Tah’s academic achievements earned her the Mastercard Foundation scholarship—offered to less than 3% of applicants— which covered the total cost of her MSU tuition.

Throughout her undergraduate career, Abii-Tah has presented her research on a global scale. She was keynote speaker at the Student Leaders Summit in The Hague, The Netherlands, as well as the Baobab Summit in Rwanda. Abii-Tah has also presented at the National Students Leadership Forum (Washington, DC), the National Prayer Breakfast (Washington DC), and as a TED X MSU speaker in March 2019. 

Abii-Tah is co-founder of the “Displaced not Defeated” peace project, which was created in response to the 2016 Anglophone crisis in Cameroon to support Cameroonian refugees and formerly incarcerated and convicted individuals. The project won a grant from the Davis Projects for Peace, which helped construct work centers and provide medical services, groceries and sanitation equipment for refugees. 

This fall, Abii-Tah will be attending the University of Cambridge to pursue a MPhil in Politics and International Studies, where she will continue pursuing her passion for politics and her vision for more equitable democratic institutions across Africa and the world.

Read this story as it originally appeared on MSU's Undergraduate Education website.