Shu Tokita Prize For Students of Color Studying Literature

The Shu Tokita Prize, established by friends and relatives of Shu Tokita, ’84, will be awarded to a student of color majoring in literature, in area studies, or a language major with a focus on literature, who demonstrate need for substantial financial assistance. If you have any questions about whether or not you are eligible, please contact us.  Recipients will be selected on the basis of commitment to the study of literature as evidenced in the content and quality of their essays, and financial need. Awarded to one or two sophomores and/or juniors for the remainder of their time at Wesleyan, the Prize is usually $1,500 per year. The recipient(s) of the Shu Tokita Prize will receive the annual award at the start of the following fall semester, that is, for their junior and/or senior year(s).

The Prize was established in memory of Shu Tokita, Class of 1984, who passed away in January of 1989 from leukemia. He had received a B. A. in English Literature from Wesleyan University and an M. A. in Japanese Literature from Tsukuba University. He studied literature as a pursuit that spoke to his life, and from which he gained insights and, ultimately, strength. The Prize seeks to reflect Shu’s interest in literature and his belief that it should be accessible to people of all backgrounds; thus, the Prize is focused on supporting students of color, for whom the study of literature, Shu’s family and friends felt, is often considered a “luxury.” Through the Prize, we hope to encourage and assist Shu Tokita recipients in their decision to pursue literature as an academic endeavor. We hope that they will likewise share their insights and wisdom with their communities. Current Wesleyan student winners of the Shu Tokita Prize are Kalee Kennedy ‘19 and  Brynn Assignon ‘20.


  1. Any domestic student of color (U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or undocumented student) who is a full-time Wesleyan sophomore or junior and is African American, Asian/Pacific American, Latino/a American, or Native American, is eligible to apply. The applicant must be in need of substantial financial aid.
  2. The applicant’s major or focus of study must be in literature. Applicants may be affiliated with the following departments: English, College of Letters, other language/literature departments, or area studies, e. g., East Asian Studies concentrating on Chinese or Japanese literature.


The selection is based on the submitted 750-word essay on one of the two topics identified in the application form, and on financial need, and not on academic standing.

SELECTION: Selection is based on review of applicant’s written essay and financial need.

DEADLINE for submission of applications: 5 p.m., Wednesday, April 17.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF PRIZE WINNER: In time for the prize reception in May.

TO APPLY: Prize application form is attached. For further information, please contact the campus coordinator of the Shu Tokita Prize committee, Alice Hadler (Downey House 209, x 2832,, campus mail: English Dept., 294 High St.). Please submit your application and essay as an email attachment to Prof. Hadler by the Wednesday April 17 deadline.


Name: _____________________________________ Class: _________________________

Campus Box #: ____________________________ Telephone: _____________________

WesID#: __________________________ E-Mail: _________________________

Home Address: _____________________________ Home Telephone: _______________


Major: ________________________________________________________________________

Program with a focus on literature: _________________________________________________

Please check:

__________ I am a domestic student of color currently enrolled full-time at Wesleyan.

Please also check:

_____ I hereby give permission to the members of the Shu Tokita Memorial Prize Committee to share among themselves information concerning my Financial Aid status for the purpose of evaluating my application. I understand that the Committee members are Prof Emerita Yoshiko Samuel, East Asian Languages and Literatures, Teiji Kawana, ’84, Daphne Kwok, ’84, Alice Hadler, English Department and Dean’s Office, Renee Johnson-Thornton, Dean for the Class of 2018, Amy Tang, English Dept., Marguerite Nguyen, English Dept.  Current prizewinners may also be asked to read application essays, but will not see other application information.

Please include a 750- word essay on one of the two topics below with your application:

  1. How do you plan to use your major, or focus of study, to make literature more accessible to people of all backgrounds? Please offer a specific example from either your own experience or perhaps a literary text that can illustrate your views.
  1. What is your response to someone who asserts that a major in literature is “impractical?” Please offer a specific example from either your own experience or perhaps a literary text that can illustrate your views.

Applications should be submitted by email by April 17, 2019 to:

The Shu Tokita Memorial Prize Committee