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Podcast by Shante Stowell '15 wins American Society for Engineering Education diversity contest

Recent graduate honored for her unique audio piece, crafted at MIT, encouraging self-reflection on race.
Shante Stowell
Shante Stowell
Photo courtesy of Shante Stowell.

A podcast by recent graduate Shante Stowell ’15 has won a national contest sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). The contest, part of ASEE's Year of Action on Diversity, solicited videos and essays from engineering students sharing a story related to any type of diversity. Stowell, an MIT senior when she submitted her entry, won first place with what the contest organizers described as "a unique audio piece that encourages thought and self-reflection." Stowell produced her piece, “Feeling Raced,” with logistical support from the MIT Terrascope freshman learning community, in which she first learned to create audio stories.

Stowell created the podcast as a final project for 21L.504 (Stay Human: Race and Identity in American Literature). “Associate Professor Sandy Alexandre gave us the option to go beyond a traditional paper format for our final projects,” she says. “I immediately thought of doing a radio piece, because it's a format I've loved since taking Terrascope Radio in my freshman year. We'd been discussing the question, 'When have your actions been influenced by your race?' and I thought that Caucasians would probably have a much harder time answering it  — probably influenced by my own inability to think of an answer. I decided I'd ask people the question, record their answers, and turn what I got into some kind of radio program,” Stowell says.

“My study wasn't terribly scientific,” she adds. “I grabbed friends who had some free time, especially ones I thought would have things to say. I decided I wanted to keep things simpler by not including various international friends in the interviews — though I did talk to several of them off record. Ultimately, I hope the piece stands for itself, and helps people think about and start conversations about how they experience their own race.” 

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