Nkemjika Abad Emenike
Undergraduate student, College of Arts & Sciences
Throughout her undergraduate experience, Nkemjika Emenike has dedicated herself to serving and truly understanding both the WashU and St. Louis community.
As a Student Union Senator, Nkemjika took on the roles of Chief of Staff, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair, and Speaker. She advocated empathetically for better mental health resources, racial justice, and socioeconomic equity for undergraduate students, while fostering a collaborative work environment that allowed others to reach their leadership potential. She centers the experiences of others—in consultation with her own—to make the best decisions for the student body.
Her nominator, Otto Brown, indicates, “In an environment where student politics can be overwhelming at times, Nkemjika has always stayed above the fray and stayed focused on bringing about meaningful change for her constituents.”
Nkemjika understands the importance of communities and looking at the past to better inform the future. She has continually examined the untold stories of St. Louis, from her research on
William Greenleaf Eliot and the complexities of his contributions to St. Louis, to her work with Washington Park Cemetery.
A historically Black cemetery in North St. Louis County, Washington Park is the resting place for over 42,000 people, but it has been in disrepair for many years. Nkemjika organized workdays with groups of students to lift sunken headstones out of the ground and geo-tag each stone so relatives could more easily locate their loved ones. During the workdays, she ensured that students understood why they were doing this work, elevating the voices of community members.
In 2021, Nkemjika was interviewed on St. Louis Public Radio for her research on the history of Washington University. “I think a big thing for me is just understanding that history and people, they’re not one dimensional,” she said.
“And we know that when we think about things in the present day…when we think about people in history… we don’t think about all the nuances and all the different experiences that they have, that are making up the decisions that they make.”
Nkemjika’s commitment to contextualizing community work and community history, particularly the stories which are often forgotten, makes her contributions to the St. Louis community all the more meaningful.