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Paving the Way' for Spotify's NextGen Scholarship Recipients


Spotify is committed to amplifying the voices of underrepresented groups, and that starts with empowering the creators who will shape our industry's future.

NextGen is Spotify's ongoing program designed to infuse, activate, and grow podcast and creator culture on college campuses. Through our Creator Equity Fund (CEF), we've expanded NextGen to support historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) including Spelman College, Howard University, Hampton University, and now North Carolina A&T State University.

This year, the program has funded $50,000 in scholarships to students at North Carolina A&T State University interested in pursuing careers in audio media, including podcasting, storytelling, writing, sound engineering, and music. NextGen programming helps promote new and different voices, stories, and perspectives and provides students with the skills to pursue their dreams.

After a competitive selection process, we are excited to announce this year's scholarship recipients: Armani Ross, Christ n Davis, Chrysta Nichols, Emery Whipple, and Nicole Neal. Learn more about these talented students and their aspirations.

Armani Ross (she/her) Junior, Mass Media Production Major

How can scholarships and learning opportunities like Spotify's NextGen help HBCU students? The scholarship opportunities pave the way for students to continue to network and learn-not only from professors but also from each other, especially at an HBCU like A&T. This school is filled with so many creative individuals and the learning opportunities help students expand and execute their ideas.

Who are some creators of color who inspire you, and if you could collaborate with any of them, who would you choose and why? Ava DuVernay and Issa Rae. As a Black woman in film, they've both paved the way and have truly been an inspiration. I admire their filmmaking and storytelling of Black lives, whether it's a documentary like Colin in Black and White or a film like Insecure. I would love to learn how they select shots or aesthetics-and why-to tell a compelling story and make it relatable to the audience.

What's one thing you hope to achieve personally or professionally as a creator? I'm still working on finding my look when it comes to producing and directing films. With time and learning from my mistakes, I hope that one day when people see a film of mine, they will know that it's my work because it's different from others.

What's your favorite Spotify playlist? The Legendary Labels playlist series.

What's your favorite Spotify podcast? On Purpose with Jay Shetty.

What's your favorite Spotify audiobook? Rich Dad Poor Dad.

Christ n Davis (she/her) Junior, Multimedia Journalism Major

How can scholarships and learning opportunities like Spotify's NextGen help HBCU students? Opportunities like Spotify's NextGen program help students in ways that go far beyond what words can measure, bringing passionate individuals from both underrepresented and economically disadvantaged backgrounds into the professional world. It's a great blessing to have programs which provide resources for education and professional growth. It can often be what makes the difference in whether or not a student is able to graduate from a university.

Who are some creators of color who inspire you, and if you could collaborate with any of them, who would you choose and why? Issa Rae and AMP (the YouTube creative group) inspire me the most, and I would enjoy collaborating with either of them. But if I had to choose ONE, I would pick Issa Rae, because I see myself in her work. She has created TV shows that make me feel seen and heard, not just as a Black woman, but as an awkward and slightly nerdy one, too. That kind of content is rare to find. Issa is truly an innovator.

What's one thing you hope to achieve personally or professionally as a creator? I hope to travel to countries where economic crises are prevalent to document those issues and raise awareness through the media. Internationally, populations of people are struggling to survive in their environments due to war, poverty, deadly hunger, and more. After my family and I faced food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, I was motivated to work toward this philanthropic goal.

What's your favorite Spotify playlist? I love the playlist Chill Hits! Calm music and chill beats are definitely my kind of vibe.

What's your favorite Spotify podcast? Ted Talks Daily is my favorite Spotify podcast. There is something special about being able to strengthen yourself with knowledge by listening to experts.

What's your favorite Spotify audiobook? The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn. I love the Bridgerton love stories!

Chrysta Nichols (she/her) Junior, Multimedia Journalism Major

How can scholarships and learning opportunities like Spotify's NextGen help HBCU students? As a journalism student deeply immersed in the realms of media and marketing, I see firsthand the transformative power of initiatives like Spotify's NextGen scholarships for students attending HBCUs. These opportunities are not just about financial assistance; they symbolize a pathway to empowerment and representation within industries where diversity and inclusion are paramount. By offering support to HBCU students, companies like Spotify are not only investing in individual futures but also championing a broader narrative of equity and access.

Who are some creators of color who inspire you, and if you could collaborate with any of them, who would you choose and why? Dearra Taylor, Isimeme Edeko, and Issa Rae are creators of color who embody authenticity and staying true to oneself, which I deeply resonate with. If I could collaborate with any of them, I would choose Isimeme Edeko. As someone who has personally struggled with confidence and
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