Shirley Wilson Logan Diversity Scholarship Recipient

Nisha Shanmugaraj
Winner of 2021 Shirley Wilson Logan
Diversity Scholarship Award

bio pic of Nisha Shanmugaraj head shot, in front of a bookcase

The Shirley Wilson Logan Diversity Scholarship was established in 2019 as a biennial award to encourage feminist scholarship (particularly historical in nature) by graduate scholars from diverse or historically un or underrepresented groups. The award is given to first-time presenters at the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference, and includes both a monetary award and participation in a specially designated session at the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference. Because the inaugural Scholarship competition was planned under COVID conditions with 2021 FemRhet plans in flux, the Coalition’s Advisory Board voted to extend eligibility of this first award to participation at any Fall 2021 conference.

On behalf of the 2021 Shirley Wilson Logan Award Committee, I am pleased to announce this year’s winner: Nisha Shanmugaraj, a third-year doctoral student in Rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University. This award will support Nisha’s participation at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Fall 2021. The theme of this year’s conference is “Feminist Community Formations Across Borders and Experience,” and Nisha’s paper is  entitled “How Second Generation Indian-American Women Construct National Belonging.”

In this paper, drawing on 25 qualitative interviews of second-generation Indian American women, Nisha investigates how they experience, respond to, and re-envision normative discourses of the “model” minority under which they are often homogenized or stereotyped. By conducting a rhetorical analysis of interview transcripts, she examines moments of “race unmaking and re-making that reimagine tropes of the docile, intelligent brown women.”

Of her interest in this conference and on the current direction of her scholarship, Nisha’s major professor and nominator, Stephanie Larson, writes:

“Nisha is the type of teacher-scholar who strives to enact her research in all aspects of her work. While her research takes up issues of inclusivity and equity in the context of intersectional feminist rhetorics, I’ve witnesses those same commitments manifest in her classroom and service efforts here at CMU.”

The selection committee agreed, indicating that Nisha’s application was strong in all its facets and that her scholarly interests were well demonstrated at so early a stage of her graduate career. One judge wrote the following of Nisha’s application:

“This tightly focused study of Indian American women’s negotiation of discourses of the model minority advances the Coalition’s mission and makes a significant contribution to diversity scholarship.”

Another judge concurred:

“With the focus of Nisha’s work on the Indian American women’s experience and discourse, her scholarship addresses an under-studied minority group that can make significant contributions to the diversity conversation. Her chosen topic for research is absolutely relevant to the CFSHRC’s mission.”

Nisha has published in Composition Forum (2020) and Business and Professional Communication Quarterly (2016), and is currently working on an article about her experiences creating a graduate student committee on anti-racism at CMU. The CFSHRC is in the process of formalizing its plans for Fall 2021 virtual conferencing; please watch for more announcements about how we will spotlight Nisha’s work at one of our upcoming events.


As the Coalition embarks on summer activities and fall planning, we invite you to watch for announcements and calls for our remaining competitions this year: the Lisa Ede Mentoring Award (to be announced late summer/early Fall); the Presidents Dissertation Award (to be announced late summer/early Fall); the Nancy A. Myers Feminist Research Grant (deadline: Dec. 15, 2021) and the Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award (deadline: Dec. 1, 2021). Remarkably, Coalition members have not slowed down even while facing numerous challenges at work and at home. Awards do not and cannot compensate for what time, productivity, and personal circumstances our members have lost in a long and difficult year, but we are nonetheless glad to celebrate your milestones with you and buoy you however we can. We look forward to your nominations and applications in the coming months!

Very sincerely,

Tarez Samra Graban
Immediate Past-President
Awards Chair 2020–2022

and members of the inaugural Shirley Wilson Logan Diversity Scholarship Committee

David Gold
Karen M. Hansen-Morgan
Ruby Nancy
Alexis E. Ramsey-Tobienne
Kendall Turchyn