Julie Aromi, a second year doctoral student and a part-time instructor at SC&I, has been named the recipient of the 2020 Paul Robeson Renaissance Award by the Rutgers University-New Brunswick Chancellor Student Leadership Gala. Aromi was nominated for the award by SC&I Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science Kaitlin Costello.
According to the Chancellor Student Leadership Gala website, to be eligible for the Paul Robeson Renaissance Award, “the nominee shall exemplify the principles to which Rutgers graduate Paul Robeson devoted his life: scholarship, humanitarianism, advocacy, athleticism, and artistry while practicing the inclusive approach to diversity that the University holds as a core value.”
Aromi, whose Ph.D. concentration is in Library and Information Science, focuses both on archival research and African American studies. “My work is based on the idea that the history published in books and textbooks come from limited perspectives,” said Aromi. “Community archives can help historians and others include the voices of community members in their work, whether through oral history or collections from townspeople.”
Aromi said her goal is to bring attention to community archives and amplify the contributions the archives can make to the work of historians. Community archives, Aromi said, are archives that are created by individuals or groups of people that share their different cultural experiences.
“I nominated Julie for this award because Julie practices the principles to which Paul Robeson devoted his life,” Costello said. “Her research is rooted in activist principles, and she works directly with community archives to produce grassroots historical counternarratives. In her work, she advocates for the inclusion of Black perspectives in published historical narratives. Julie exemplifies the qualities embodied by this award: her work is truly interdisciplinary, and like Robeson, she possesses talent, energy, and a commitment to inclusive approaches to both advocacy and diversity. It was my absolute pleasure to nominate Julie for this honor!”
In addition to her doctoral work and teaching at SC&I, Aromi also serves as the president of SC&I’s Doctoral Student Association. In this role, she organizes ways for doctoral students to better communicate with SC&I’s other departments, attends Ph.D. practicums, and maintains communication with the deans.
When asked how her affiliation with SC&I has helped her achieve this award, she said, “SC&I has allowed me to pursue the work that I want to do from a couple of different theoretical lenses. SC&I provides me with a lot of academic and research freedom, which helps me build my work in a way that I can work on what I want to do with it instead of being stuffed in a box.”
Aromi was notified about the Robeson award via email. Rutgers normally hosts an annual face-to-face gala to honor the award recipients, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rutgers hosted a virtual ceremony for the recipients on Wednesday, May 6 which Aromi attended.