Undergraduate Pearl Ibeanusi wins national scholarship in honor of late U.S. Rep. Patsy Takemoto Mink

Pearl Ibeanusi standing in front of a wall
UCSC student Pearl Ibeanusi hopes to pursue graduate education and envisions a public service leadership career addressing equity issues at the intersection of education and health.

UC Santa Cruz undergraduate Pearl Ibeanusi—a Stevenson College senior who’s double majoring in community studies and education, justice, and democracy—recently won a nationally competitive scholarship award from the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation. 

The award honors the memory of Patsy Takemoto Mink, who was the first woman of color elected to Congress. She served 12 terms for Hawaii in the U.S. House of Representatives and was a tireless advocate for women’s rights and civil rights. In 2014, Mink was awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom. She famously coauthored Title IX, a law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any federally funded educational programs. 

Today, the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation provides financial awards to help low-income mothers pursue post-secondary education. The foundation receives thousands of applications from across the country, but in late 2021, UCSC student Pearl Ibeanusi was one of five women selected to receive a $5,000 scholarship. The award recognizes Ibeanusi’s outstanding record of community service and her educational and career goals. 

During her time at UCSC, Ibeanusi has served on a student panel for incoming freshmen through Umoja to support the success of African, Black, and Caribbean students on campus, and in 2020, on behalf of the Community Studies Program, she attended the Facing Race national conference on racial justice. She was also selected as a 2020-2021 UC Global Health Institute student ambassador. 

Earlier this year, she won the Gabriel Zimmerman Memorial Award through UCSC’s Division of Social Sciences, a scholarship which recognizes students committed to social issues and public service. And most recently, she completed a field study internship with the City of San José, where she worked with pandemic-related eviction protection programs. 

Ibeanusi hopes to pursue graduate education and envisions a public service leadership career that would allow her to address equity issues at the intersection of education and health. 

“I’m very interested in behavioral health, and there is more to that than what can be found with labs and blood tests and x-ray images,” she said. “If a person can’t afford to live in a good neighborhood, to have transportation, to eat good food and sleep well, or to get an education that can help them improve their lifestyle and reach their goals, then they are facing crippling factors that will affect their health, even if it’s not found in the biomedical arena.” 

As a mother of six, a cancer survivor, and a first-generation immigrant who came to the U.S. from Nigeria 30 years ago, Ibeanusi says financial struggles have been a constant challenge in attaining her own educational and career goals. But scholarships, like the one from the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation, can help to put those dreams within reach. 

“I’m grateful and honored by the foundation’s decision to count me as an awardee,” she said. “I really need this type of financial support in order to continue my education, and this award is motivational, because it shows that if I keep going and keep up the hard work, it can pay off.”