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W&L’s Tanajia Moye-Green Among 2024 Class of Knight-Hennessy Scholars Moye-Green ’23 is the university’s first Knight-Hennessy Scholar.

Tanajia-Moye-Green-600x400 W&L’s Tanajia Moye-Green Among 2024 Class of Knight-Hennessy Scholars

“I want to give back and pour into others … I’m really excited about the future because there is so much to look forward to.”

~ Tanajia Moye-Green ’23

Tanajia Moye-Green ’23 is Washington and Lee University’s first Knight-Hennessy Scholar.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars (KHS) announced on May 7 that Moye-Green, of Polk County, Florida, was one of 90 scholars chosen this year to begin or continue graduate studies next fall at Stanford University. The scholarship fully funds up to three years of study, and scholars also participate in the King Global Leadership Program to complement their graduate school education.

KHS was founded in 2016 by John Hennessy and Phil Knight to educate and prepare a community of scholars for leadership roles in academia, industry, government, nonprofits and the community at large. The 2024 cohort of 90 scholars come from 30 countries and will pursue graduate degrees in 45 programs across all seven schools at Stanford. To date, there are 514 scholars, including the 2024 cohort.

“Being named a Knight-Hennessy Scholar is a huge honor,” said Moye-Green. “I am feeling really grateful these days, and I keep pinching myself because it all seems so unreal. I already feel so inspired by everyone I’ve met through the Knight-Hennessy program, and I’m looking forward to continuing to engage with people from a variety of academic disciplines and backgrounds.”

At Stanford, Moye-Green plans to pursue a Ph.D. in sociology and research mass incarceration and its impact on families. She is particularly interested in understanding how Black women of disadvantaged and low-income means financially navigate the hardships arising from the incarceration of their partners. Additionally, she will examine the extent to which Black women support Black male relatives throughout their imprisonment and upon their release and the effects that providing this support has on these women and their children. She plans to conduct mixed-methods research that humanizes and amplifies the voices of those impacted by mass incarceration and emphasizes the racial disparities in criminal justice contact outcomes for individuals, families and communities.

Moye-Green’s graduate studies will expand upon research she conducted at W&L, where she majored in sociology and anthropology with a double minor in data science and poverty and human capability studies. Her coursework reflected her interest in the effects of mass incarceration on families and communities, and she spent the summers of 2020 and 2021 as a summer research assistant, working with Jon Eastwood, professor of sociology and chair of W&L’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. During her first summer, she examined the intersection of racial economic inequality and COVID-19 exposure, and why minorities were disproportionately likely to both get sick and die from COVID-19. She then spent the summer of 2021 examining the role mass incarceration plays in causing and exacerbating the spatial distributions of concentrated disadvantage. Both research experiences prepared Moye-Green for her sociology honors thesis, in which she investigated group threat’s role in the relationship between attitudes toward Black people and state-level punitiveness.

Eastwood recalls Moye-Green’s passion for her research and the level of community care she exhibited through it, and says she remains one of the most impressive students he has worked with in his two decades of teaching at a university level.

“Tanajia is a brilliant person of high moral character and unusual intellectual depth, one dedicated to using her gifts to help solve social problems of urgent concern,” Eastwood said.

Moye-Green’s passion for social justice and determination to pursue criminal legal reform and antiracism have been strengthened by her involvement in local organizations fighting racism, including serving on the board of the Community Anti-Racism Effort (CARE) of Rockbridge County. “My research projects, academic study and community engagement have inspired me to pursue a career as a sociologist where I can help uncover the harms that arise from communities’ interactions with the criminal legal system,” she said.

Robin LeBlanc, professor of politics at W&L, worked closely with Moye-Green on CARE programs and initiatives, including Lexington’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and the Reading in Color initiative that raises funds to buy books for local schools written by BIPOC-identifying authors and featuring BIPOC protagonists. She was impressed by Moye-Green’s leadership capabilities and her determination to see a project through to completion.

“Tanajia is the rare sort of person who manages to combine great ambition with the kind of balanced self-confidence that owns her faults and makes space for others,” LeBlanc said. “She clearly has the academic wherewithal and the leadership skills to find her place at any institution of higher education. But, more importantly, I am convinced Tanajia has something to say to the world — in general — and, most certainly, to us social scientists.”

At W&L, Moye-Green was involved in the Shepherd Program and the Office of Community-Based Learning and conducted research on various W&L institutional history initiatives. She attended the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in summer 2022, where she strengthened her quantitative, analytic and communication skills, as well as learned more about policy analysis, statistics and economics. Moye-Green also earned a Beinecke Scholarship in 2022, which provides funds for post-graduate study to students of unusual promise. In 2023, she worked as a quantitative research intern at the Vera Institute of Justice, supporting the nonprofit’s work in New Mexico that focused on understanding the impact of local policies that punish individuals for their inability to pay fines and fees.

Moye-Green received a Fulbright University of Strathclyde Award to the United Kingdom in the spring of 2023. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice and penal change at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland and works as a policy analyst intern at the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. In April 2024, she received a pre-doctoral graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation to support her research on mass incarceration and its impact on families.

“Tanajia is poised for an absolutely brilliant and path-breaking career as a sociologist,” said Matthew Loar, W&L’s director of fellowships and student research. “Like many great W&L students who have come before her, when Tanajia decides to take something on, she does it not because she thinks it will strengthen her resume or make her more competitive for the next job, internship or application; she does it because she understands intuitively that it is the right thing to do. What a rare thing that is, and what a breath of fresh air. Tanajia is simply extraordinary, and I know she will continue to make us all proud of investing in her future.”

Moye-Green is deeply appreciative of the network of support she found at W&L and hopes she can help guide other students and alumni interested in applying to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program or attending Stanford for graduate studies.

“I want to give back and pour into others,” Moye-Green said. “So many people at W&L have invested their time and energy into me, and I can’t express how much that has meant to me. Now I’m just really excited about the future because there is so much to look forward to.”