Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Five Spelman College NextGen Scholarship Recipients Are Rising to the Top


At Spotify, we are empowering and amplifying the voices of underrepresented creators. To do that, we must carve out spaces for new stories and perspectives to be shared and heard. So we created NextGen, our ongoing program designed to infuse, activate, and grow podcast culture on college campuses. Funded by Spotify's Creator Equity Fund, this initiative exists to provide students across the U.S. with the skills needed to pursue their dreams.

After initially partnering with the University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania, and New York University, we've expanded our outreach to historically Black college and university (HBCU) campuses. Spelman College in Atlanta is the first HBCU to offer NextGen programming, and as part of that effort, we have provided support for student-led original audio content, hosted special events and training programs, and will soon introduce an on campus podcast recording space.

Earlier this year, we hosted our first NextGen Creator Day at Spelman, where we announced a new audio-first NextGen curriculum, a weeklong Spotify Labs Creator Program, and the Spotify NextGen Scholarship.

The NextGen Scholarship provides multiyear scholarships to five first-year Spelman students interested in pursuing a career in audio media, including podcasting, storytelling, writing, sound engineering, and music. Students must be enrolled full-time and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. To get to know the applicants better, they also had to answer the question, What story would you love to tell through media?

After a competitive submission process, we are excited to announce the recipients of the scholarship program: Rokiyah Darbo, Taylor Mills, Ashley Rawls, Bailey Johnson, and Tellisa Massey. Each recipient will receive a $10,000 scholarship during their sophomore, junior, and senior years, and they will also have the option to be Spotify ambassadors. Get to know these talented students and their dreams.

Rokiyah Darbo (she/her)

Major: Biology How can scholarships and learning opportunities like NextGen help HBCU students? Black students are already at a disadvantage in this society simply for being Black. Scholarships like NextGen allow Black students to be involved in conversations that can help them build a future and provide financial support to their families.

Who are some creators of color who inspire you and whom you'd want to collaborate with? My top three creators are Elsa Majimbo, Anayka She, and Monet McMichael. It would truly be an honor if I ever got the chance to even be in the same room as these beautiful, hilarious, and successful women of color. I began watching all three of them during quarantine, and the reason why I love their content so much is because they are constantly keeping it real with us. They are hilarious, but at the end of the day, they also give really great big sister advice.

What's one thing you hope to achieve personally or professionally as a creator? Confidence.

Taylor Mills (she/her)

Major: Theatre and Performance How can scholarships and learning opportunities like NextGen help HBCU students? Scholarships and learning opportunities from NextGen have endless possibilities. As a Spelman student, I am very grateful to NextGen because they have helped me financially and shown that they believe in my craft, creating spaces for HBCU students like me to thrive and learn about the business behind our future career goals.

Who are some creators of color who inspire you and whom you'd want to collaborate with? Some creators of color that inspire me are @ik.truth, Fyd le, and Janay Trench-Lesley because of their raw talent and content consistency! If I could collaborate with a content creator, it would be Vena E. because she's unapologetically herself and inspires others to do the same!

What's one thing you hope to achieve personally or professionally as a creator? As a content creator, I'll continue to motivate people with my comedic twist! I plan to use Spotify NextGen's resources, improve my craft, and continue to succeed as an HBCU student!

Ashley Rawls (she/they)

Major: Music How can scholarships and learning opportunities like NextGen help HBCU students? Scholarships like NextGen can help HBCU students by providing financial support for those who may be institutionally disadvantaged. It is no secret that HBCUs are often underfunded, which in turn limits scholarship opportunities for students. Scholarships like NextGen help alleviate these challenges. It also allows more Black creatives to be involved in industries that lack diversity and Black representation. By giving HBCU students incredible opportunities like this, it fosters a space where Black people can be appreciated and continues to challenge the norms while maintaining culture.

Who are some creators of color who inspire you and whom you'd want to collaborate with? Definitely Ravyn Lenae. I have been in love with her neo-soul beats and classically trained voice. Her debut album, HYPNOS, was absolutely enchanting, and having the opportunity to see her in concert was one of the highlights of this year for me. Her EP Crush was created in collaboration with one of my other favorite artists, Steve Lacy, and it was the album that made me fall in love with her music. I absolutely adore Steve Lacy and all of the projects that he has produced, so having the two of them on one album was heaven to my ears. I would absolutely love to collaborate with Ravyn and Steve because I feel like they have been the main inspiration for my own music and are really paving the way for modern-day neo-soul.

What's one thing you hope to achieve personally or professionally as a creator? As a musician, I would love to be able to create my own personal sound and share my music with the world. I have always been infatuated with music and believe t
See more stories from spotify

More from Spotify


Content Creator Sebastien Andrade Reveals How You Can Get Three Free Months of Spotify Premium

With more than 10 million followers on TikTok and many more across platforms lik...


Artistas RADAR colombianos presentan nuevas colaboraciones con el reconocido productor Ovy On The Drums

RADAR, el destacado programa de Spotify, se ha consolidado como una plataforma c...


2023 RADAR Colombia Artists Release Spotify Singles in Collaboration with Renowned Producer Ovy On The Drums

Without a doubt, RADAR has become a home for new music. The Spotify program, whi...


Michelin Star Chef Mory Sacko Serves Up His Thoughts on Food and Music for Spotify Supper

Is there anything more comforting than good food, good music, and good company? ...


Our 2023 Gift Guide Is Here To Make Holiday Shopping a Breeze

December is fast approaching, and along with listening to your favorite Spotify Holiday Singles, it's time to start shopping for gifts. With Spotify, liste...


Usher in Pakistan's Wedding Season With Our Special Shaadi Hub

In Pakistan, the shaadi (Urdu for wedding) is a rite of passage that's often stretched out over multiple days with ceremonies, parties, and gatherings marki...


Ultimate Passenger Princess Antoni Bumba Shares Her Top Tips for Listening in the Car

Drivers in the U.S. spend an average of 60 minutes per day behind the wheel. So ...


How Fans Are Inspiring the New Global Growth of Thai Pop and Boys' Love

Thai music and culture have been making serious waves across the globe as of late. And they're gaining momentum in large part thanks to a fandom-fueled subg...


Olivia Rodrigo Shares the Story Behind Her Original Song for the New Hunger Games' Movie

Since the novel Hunger Games first landed on bookshelves in 2008, Suzanne Collin...


Rene Rapp Shares the Songs and Artists She'll Jam to This Friendsgiving

Rene Rapp, fresh off the stateside portion of her sold-out Snow Hard Feelings tour, has just released the deluxe version of her debut album Snow Angel. In the ...


GLOW Artist LIE NING Finds Power in Life, Hope, and Radical Love

LIE NING has quickly risen in the German music scene as an artist devoted to exploring the realm of the human experience, all with a sound that shifts between R...


Interior Design Expert Bobby Berk Shares Top Tips for Making Your Living Room an Audio Oasis

As the weather outside becomes more frightful, it's time to make your living...


Get Ready for the Green Screen Video Series, a New Type of Performance From Spotify

We've always loved seeing an artist's vision come to life in their music...


You Can Now Easily Save Songs to Spotify From TikTok With a Simple Tap

At Spotify, we aim to meet our listeners where they scroll. And for some of our users, that's on TikTok. We want it to be as easy as possible to capture tho...


Akshat Harbola, Spotify's MENA Managing Director, on the Creative Vibrancy of the Region

Akshat Harbola, Spotify's Managing Director of Middle East, North Africa (ME...


Get Merry With New Spotify Holiday Singles From Laufey, Kirk Franklin, Ezra Collective, and Panter Blico

As the year draws to a close, you might be excitedly getting ready for the holid...


Social Media Star and Car Enthusiast Daniel Mac Shares His Latest Spotify Finds

When it comes to the most-loved features on Spotify, personalization tops many users' lists. Through Spotify playlists like Discover Weekly and daylist, edi...


20 African Artists Spotlighted by FC Barcelona You Should Know

Through our first-of-its-kind partnership with FC Barcelona, we've brought the worlds of music and sport together for fans around the globe to enjoy. Whethe...


Podcasters Can Better Connect to Their Audiences With the Insights From Our Latest Fan Study

We know that podcasters of all sizes want to share their stories with the world,...


Find Your Favorite Audio More Easily With the Redesigned Spotify on TV Experience

Looking for a Spotify experience from the big screen? Whether you're enterta...


Author Min Jin Lee Reveals the Unique Quality That Make Audiobooks So Powerful

As one of the preeminent storytellers of our era, author Min Jin Lee has captivated fans with her international best-sellers, Pachinko and Free Food for Million...


200,000+ Audiobooks Are Now Available to Spotify Premium Listeners in the U.S.

Audiobook lovers across the U.S., rejoice! As of today, Spotify Premium users in the U.S. join those in the U.K. and Australia as we make over 200,000 audiobook...


Lilly Singh Talks Audiobooks, Favorite Reads, and Lilly's Library

From viral sketch videos to late-night television, Lilly Singh is used to making people laugh. The Canadian entertainer, writer, and advocate has made her mark ...


Zior Park Brings Us Into His Universe as the Next RADAR Korea Artist

Known just as much for his visually stunning and artistic music videos as he is for his music, Zior Park is unquestionably one of the most diverse and innovativ...


Criadores e fs comemoram seus programas preferidos no Festival de Podcasts do Spotify em So Paulo.

Neste fim de semana, grandes nomes da podosfera brasileira ir o se reunir para c...


Creators and Fans Celebrate Their Favorite Shows at the Spotify Podcast Festival in So Paulo

This weekend, creators are heading to S o Paulo to celebrate storytelling at the...


Spotify Pakistan Celebrates Its First Album Launch With Talal Qureshi's Turbo'

When it comes to amplifying artists, Spotify goes all the way. This commitment w...


Exclusive Artist Merch Drops for Spotify's Capsule Collection

From band tees to vinyl sleeves, music and merch go hand in hand. We've seen that when an artist drops some merch, fans flock to their Spotify pages to grab...


Coach Sydney Carter Breaks Down Her Biggest Style Inspirations, the Joys of Owning a Dog, and the Importance of Being Yourself

When it comes to the most-loved features on Spotify, personalization tops many u...


At SXSW Sydney, RADAR, EQUAL, and K-Music Take Over Spotify House

For the first time in its history, Austin's iconic South By Southwest (SXSW) festival expanded beyond its Texas watering hole and traveled all the way to Au...


Fuego's New Haunted Playlist Turns Music Listening Into a One-of-a-Kind Game

Halloween is just around the corner and we're getting into the spirit with Fuego's Haunted Playlist. This unique on-platform experience turns your liste...


Nominees for Music Moves Europe Awards' Showcase a Diverse, Talented Mix of Artists

Each year, the Music Moves Europe (MME) Awards celebrate the best and the bright...


4 Reasons Why You Should Keep Your Spotify App Up-to-Date

We've all been there before. You download an app, use it daily, but never think to check if it needs to be updated. Maybe you hear buzzing from those around...


Spotify Reports Third Quarter 2023 Earnings

Today, we announced our third quarter 2023 performance. The business delivered strong results in Q3 as all of our key indicators exceeded guidance and we return...


Spotify rapporterar intkter fr tredje kvartalet 2023

Idag tillk nnagav vi v rt finansiella resultat f r tredje kvartalet 2023. Verksamheten levererade starka resultat under tredje kvartalet. Samtliga nyckeltal ve...


South African GLOW Artist Mx Blouse Proudly Combines Hip-Hop Beats With Dance, Kwaito, and Queer Themes

Johannesburg-based creative Sandi has been a writer ever since they could rememb...


Spotify and COLORSxSTUDIOS Spotlight African R&B Talent

Sub-Saharan Africa is a hotbed of musical talent, especially when it comes to R&B. Our flagship playlist Tantalizers already highlights some of the smoothest ac...


John Mulaney Slows It Down and Soaks in the Laughs Coming off of Baby J'

John Mulaney had only been working in comedy for five years when he landed a role as a writer at Saturday Night Live in 2008. Hilariously, I felt seasoned when...


Spotify Is Putting the Spotlight on Afrobeats to Chart Its Global Rise

With more than 15 billion streams (and counting), there's no doubt that Afrobeats as a genre is making an impact across the globe. Artists like Shallipopi, ...


Spotify and FC Barcelona Team Up With The Rolling Stones on a Special El Clsico Shirt, Merchandise Collection, and Matchday Playlist

Whether it's fans singing in unison, a player listening to a track to energi...


How Spotify Uses Design To Make Personalization Features Delightful

Every day, teams across Spotify leverage AI and machine learning to apply our personalization capabilities on a large scale, leading to the features, playlists,...


Spotify's Interactive Experiences Create the Magic of Wrapped Year-Round

Spotify users start chattering on social media about Spotify Wrapped months before the experience is unveiled. The data dive turned cultural phenomenon, in whic...


Spotify Extends Existing Partnership With UNICEF and Donates to UNICEF's Global Emergency Fund

Spotify is deeply saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in Israel and trouble...


New Spotify Original Podcast What Now? with Trevor Noah' Set to Launch November 9

Since announcing a new Spotify Original Podcast with Trevor Noah back in June, f...


A Peek at Our New Video Podcast, Hits the Spot'

Every day, we share Spotify's story across a variety of channels. Whether you prefer to hear about the company's latest business developments audibly on...


Gamers in Saudi Arabia Press Play on Bringing Esports and Music Together

The thrill of victory. Anticipating the unexpected. Mastering a new skill. These are just some of the things that make gaming a thrilling hobby for people aroun...


Why Following FC Barcelona Is a Game of Its Own

Since 2022, our partnership with FC Barcelona has spanned playlists and football pitches alike. And helping fans connect with their favorite artists and players...


Our New Playlist juniper Cultivates a Space for the Next Generation of Folk Music

In every generation, folk music captures the hearts, minds, and souls of its lis...


How Spotify Island Is Leveling Up by Gamifying Sound

-- -- Last year, Spotify became the first music streaming brand to have a presence on Roblox with the launch of Spotify Island, an otherworldly digital desti...


Celebra este Da de Muertos en Spotify creando una Fusin con los inmortales de la Msica Mexicana

Con el D a de Muertos a la vuelta de la esquina, Spotify recurre al poder de la ...