Written by Olivia Drake, first published in The Wesleyan Connection
Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21 is the recipient of a Beinecke Scholarship, which will support her graduate career and her academic goal of becoming a cultural studies scholar.
She’s among 18 college undergraduates nationwide to receive the honor, and she’s the first Wesleyan student to receive the award in 13 years.
Ramos-Jordán will use her Beinecke Scholarship to explore the connection of nature, literature, art, and community in the Caribbean.
“Today, in a moment of ecological, racial, and political crisis, I envision my artistic, scholarly, and community projects to cultivate understandings and be a part of Caribbean creolité ways of reading,” she said. “I will specifically look for metaphors that use nature as an imaginary and semantic resource that portrays the symbiotic intimacies between the other and the land.”
Established in 1971, the Beinecke Scholarship Program provides “substantial scholarships for the graduate education of young men and women of exceptional promise,” and “seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.”
Each scholar receives $4,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school.
Ramos-Jordán, an English and dance double major with a Caribbean Studies minor, plans to complete a Fulbright Scholar Program in the Caribbean after graduating from Wesleyan. Then, with support of the Beinecke Scholarship, she’ll pursue an MFA in creative writing, poetry, dance, or another interdisciplinary program. Ultimately, she hopes to be accepted into a PhD program, studying either Spanish and Portuguese, American studies, performance studies, and/or English.
Born and raised in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, Ramos-Jordán began college at the University of Puerto Rico however her time was cut short due to the Category 5 Hurricane María. She became a student of Brown University’s Hurricane Relief Program, and transferred to Wesleyan for her sophomore, junior and senior undergraduate years. She’s also a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow at Wesleyan.
At Wesleyan, Ramos-Jordán has immersed herself in Caribbean studies and worked to redefine and develop her artistic passions for dance and creative writing.
“Within my coursework, classes like Caribbean Poetry and Cinema, Afro-Caribbean Music History, and Colonialism in the Americas have shaped my current research on Caribbean eco-poetics,” she said. “Both my poetry workshop and my dance improvisation courses at Wesleyan have informed my desire to contribute an embodied perspective to literary studies.”
With the support of the Beinecke scholarship, Ramos-Jordán envisions herself continuing to explore these themes during graduate school. In addition, she plans to create a network of artistic and agricultural communities that use art to cultivate ecological and political activism.
“These interdisciplinary collaborations will serve as a way to change the dominant discourses of the human-nature relationship in education and artistic spaces globally,” she said.
This semester, Ramos-Jordán went abroad to La Habana, Cuba, and partook in “a spiritual, creative, and academically insightful experience that put me in touch with my definition of what being Caribbean is,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic halted her time in Cuba, and she is completing the semester at home in Trujillo Alto. She looks forward to returning to Wesleyan and an academic setting.
“I am eager to assume the responsibility of becoming a better communicator, as a scholar, an artist, and a Puerto Rican woman.”