Scholar Spotlight: Gabriella Carter ’22 – Spike Lee Youth Motivation Award Recipient

Gabriella Carter receiving award at MLC 2020 in New York City

“Receiving the Spike Lee Youth Motivation Award is one of the greatest honors I’ve gotten thus far. I have always been so inspired by the Black excellence that permeates the Entertainment Industry. Spike Lee, one of my favorite filmmakers of all time, motivated me to delve into videography when I was 13 years old. From ‘Shes Gotta Have It’ to ‘Do the Right Thing,’ I learned the educational power and potential of media. His films in particular pushed me to bridge knowledge with accessibility in culturally competent ways. Hence, I became vehement about incorporating media into the Black Talent Pipeline Initiative (BTPI). BTPI is a mentoring platform that I co-created this school year to aid in mitigating the disconnect between Princeton undergraduates and alumni through programming, networking, and professional development.

Without an accessible frame of reference for what college would be like amongst my own family, I looked to Alumni to help me navigate this strange period of my life. I quickly realized how difficult it was to connect with them because a medium facilitating such relationships between Black undergraduates and Alumni ceased to exist. Thus, the Black Talent Pipeline Initiative (BTPI) exists to fulfill this void. In merely our first-year in service, we have already successfully paired 50+mentors and mentees! Our ultimate goal is to ensure that Black students have an equitable experience to their peers so that they can perform to the best of their abilities; and by the looks of merely our first semester in operation, we’re doing just that.

I know first-hand how difficult it is to understand the vast world of finances, especially as a first-generation college student. What better way to increase financial literacy within my community than employing media to create digestible and accessible content for our members? BTPI has some big plans to expand our online presence equipped with a repertoire of varied resources to continue providing meaningful help to our constituents.

Aside from creating BTPI, I am very entrenched in the Black community on campus. As the former Vice President of the Black Student Union, one of my favorite moments was planning and executing the first annual Gala for students on campus. I also co-founded Our Health Matters, a club which prioritizes Black women’s mental, personal, and professional health through community-based learning and programming. While we primarily cater to Black women on Princeton’s campus, we are an inclusive family that accepts those who understand the importance of centering the most vulnerable people who exist at the praxis of various minority identities. As the Social Media Manager for Dorobucci, Princeton’s premier African dance company, I realized the importance of incorporating physical exercise into the curriculum of my organizations. From Zumba
classes to aromatherapy techniques, I have employed the innovative and communicative skills I learned from leading these organizations for two years to ensure that I could lead BTPI to the best of my abilities.

I am eternally grateful to the Jackie Robinson Foundation for providing me with a family of scholars that continuously inspire me to achieve new heights. Having conversations with other scholars helped me turn my dream of having an organization that connected alumni and undergraduates into a reality. This foundation has exposed me to a wealth of innovators that push me to be my best self so that I can help my Black community to the best of my abilities.”

-Gabriella Carter, ’22