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Howard University Senior Aissa Dearing-Benton Named 2022 Marshall Scholar

Aissa Dearing-Benton

Environmental sciences scholar becomes the fourth Marshall Scholar in Howard history 

WASHINGTON – Howard University senior Aissa Dearing-Benton is the winner of a 2022 Marshall Scholarship, making her the fourth Marshall Scholar in Howard University history. Considered one of the most prestigious post-graduate awards, the Marshall Scholarship awards intellectually distinguished young Americans the opportunity to pursue graduate studies in any discipline at a U.K. institution of their choosing. With the support of the Marshall Scholarship, Dearing-Benton will spend a year studying environmental change and management at the University of Oxford. 

“I am very pleased to congratulate Ms. Dearing-Benton for being awarded the 2022 Marshall Scholarship,” said  President Wayne A.I. Frederick. “Her scholarship and her commitment to the community position her to become one of our future leaders who will play a significant role in advocating for environmental justice. We look forward to following her journey.” 

Dearing-Benton is a senior history and environmental sciences major and geography minor from Durham, North Carolina. In her hometown, she co-founded and serves as the organizing director for the Durham Youth Climate Justice Initiative, an organization that seeks to set an intentional space for young people of color in climate justice organizing through accessible environmental justice education. She also serves as the youngest appointed member to the Durham City-County Environmental Affairs Board, where she advocates for greater inclusion of youth voices in environmental decision-making.  

“I am excited to dig more deeply into environmental justice research at the global level,” said Dearing-Benton. “I look forward to taking the knowledge that I gain from being a Marshall Scholar into all the communities to which I belong.” 

As a student at Howard, Dearing-Benton has published research on the nature-based climate mitigation strategy Pleistocene Park, interned at the White House Council on Environmental Quality for the Biden administration, and currently serves as co-president of the Climate Change Club and director of sustainability for HUSA 61. Dearing-Benton’s honors senior thesis explores the relationship between the racist housing policies of the New Deal era, including redlining, racial housing covenants, and exclusionary zoning, and their impact on Durham’s distribution of environmental injustices today. She hopes to earn a doctoral degree in earth and climate sciences to advance environmental justice as a scientist. 

“Ms. Dearing-Benton epitomizes the next generation environmental scientist,” said Janelle Burke, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences and professor of biology. “She is a scholar with rigorous training, who not only has strong scientific grounding, but also is very much engaged with community work. The Marshall Scholarship will allow her to increase her global engagement to help tackle some of the next big environmental challenges.” 

The Marshall Scholarship is a U.K. government-funded scholarship that began in 1953 as a thank you to the American people for economic assistance post-World War II under the Marshall Plan. The scholarship chooses up to 50 American undergraduate students annually for fully funded graduate study at any university in the U.K., studying any discipline. Alumni of the Marshall Scholars program include notable figures from two Supreme Court justices to a NASA astronaut.  

For more information about the 2022 Marshall Scholars, click here.  

About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.