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Meaghan Wheat – 2019 MLK Spirit Awards

Meaghan Wheat is a senior in political science and psychology, with a CASC minor.  After graduation, she will pursue her MSW at the School of Social Work, as well as a master’s degree in higher education at the School of Education.

Wheat participated in her first structured conversation on class, race and inequity when she was 16 as part of the U-M Intergroup Relations (IGR) Summer Youth Dialogue on Race and Ethnicity program. “We talked specifically about racial justice, educational justice and segregation, which was amazing because you realize that we just don’t talk about social justice issues otherwise.”  Wheat has continued to work with IGR for the last six years and has brought those same conversations to the university sphere.

“I come from Novi, an upper middle class community with so many extracurriculars that you can never take advantage of the full opportunity; I’m thankful and lucky.  Coming here and seeing where my peers come from, I realized those resources are a result of of social class.”

Since 2016, Wheat has worked with peers to create the new minor in Social Class and Inequality Studies – the first of its kind in the nation.  After an intense amount of effort spent creating a task force, writing proposals and cultivating administrative support, the minor was recently approved and will be offered this fall through the Women’s Studies program at the College for Literature, Science, and the Arts.  “[The minor provides] a more encompassing view of not just poverty, but social class as a system, and helps us understand the way social class is normalized and how it affects us.”

“I loved being at the MLK Spirit Award Ceremony. I love meeting my peers and understanding what motivates them – they do amazing work. Winning the award means a lot to me and speaks to the power of what can happen when students have a voice. Social change is really a collective group effort.”  

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