“A rare one”: Faramola Shonekan, Mizzou’s newest Mark Twain Fellow

The story of Faramola Shonekan’s journey to becoming Mizzou’s 2020 Mark Twain Fellow has already been told in a couple different places. MU’s Fellowships Office did a wonderful write-up about April 28th’s surprise announcement (hat-tip to our own Jay Sexton for helping pull off the ruse), and Columbia’s local paper covered her exceptional undergraduate career as a Mizzou scholar-athlete here.

Up on the fourth floor of Jesse Hall, we’ve been lucky enough to see Faramola flourish in our Society of Fellows program, as an author for the Journal on Constitutional Democracy, as a participant in our Kinder Scholars Program in D.C., as a Rhodes and Fulbright finalist, and as a student in a wide array of classes and tutorials taught by Kinder Institute faculty, including one, Prof. Sexton’s Global History course, that gave her a week’s taste of what the next year at Oxford will hold for her. In other words, for the past three-plus years we’ve watched the growth of one of the finest students—and citizens—in Mizzou history from the front row, so we wanted to add to the coverage of her most recent accomplishment a few testimonials from instructors who have worked closely with her.

from Dr. Carli Conklin (Kinder Institute and MU Law Associate Professor, Kinder Institute Director of Undergraduate Studies): “Through her quiet and confident sense of self, her intellectual curiosity, and her genuine interest in others’ ideas and beliefs, Faramola encourages her peers to bring their questions, thoughts, and ideas to the larger group discussion, and because of that she has earned the respect and friendship not only of her fellow students but of our Kinder Institute faculty, as well. She is a selfless and thoughtful leader; a talented scholar and athlete; and the type of student who brings out the best in those around her. In short, Faramola exemplifies the very best of the undergraduates I have had the opportunity to work with at the University of Missouri.”

from Dr. Thomas Kane (Kinder Institute Communications Associate and Journal on Constitutional Democracy co-instructor): “Every year I tell Journal students that the essay is an organic, fluid, malleable organism, but when you’ve gotten A’s your whole life doing things one way, deviating from that path is a tough sell. Faramola, however, leaned into the challenge, casting aside the essay form as she knew it to create a work of profoundly enriching scholarship that was adventurous, self-possessed, and entirely new (how often do we get to say that). Montaigne would have been proud. Which is all to say that, as a scholar, Faramola has guts, something we need more of in academia and elsewhere.”

from Dr. Jay Sexton (Kinder Institute Endowed Chair and Professor of History): “Faramola is a rare one: equal part natural talent and work ethic, as well as a balance of conviction and open-mindedness that’s as uncommon as hen’s teeth these days. She’ll go to the U.K knowing that she’s got a lot to learn from Oxford, but Oxford has a lot to learn from her.”