The Rock Ethics Institute is proud to announce the winners of the 2021 Stand Up Awards, including Nyla Holland, a senior in African American Studies and political science.
As president of the Penn State Student Black Caucus when nationwide protests erupted in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black lives, Holland found herself thrust into the role of one of the leaders in efforts to address racial injustices on campus and in the surrounding community. She rose to the challenge, partnering with organizations like the 3/20 Coalition to reimagine public safety locally in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Osaze Osagie, a young Black man with mental illness. She also served as co-chair of the Student Code of Conduct task force, which outlined recommendations to improve how Penn State responds to and holds students accountable for hate speech.
Her efforts to advance racial justice have made Holland the target of attacks, including vile and racist language against her and other Black Caucus members during a Zoom bombing incident earlier this year. Her resolve in the face of such adversity has deeply impressed Candis Smith, associate professor of political science and African American studies: “Nyla has worked tirelessly to promote the well-being and safety of marginalized students at Penn State. She has taken on the burden of fighting racism and white supremacy, which continue to manifest themselves in our university town. It is a burden she should never have had to bear, but she has done so with grace, courage and resilience.”