Denfeld scholarship recipient upholds memorial legacy

"Determined, intelligent, hardworking, passionate, a leader, outgoing, funny, influential and powerful." This is how Denfeld graduate Taneasha Muonio described herself when she applied for the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, Inc. scholarship thi...

Taneasha Muonio is the 2014 Clayton Jackson McGhie scholarship winner. (Photo submitted)

“Determined, intelligent, hardworking, passionate, a leader, outgoing, funny, influential and powerful.” This is how Denfeld graduate Taneasha Muonio described herself when she applied for the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, Inc. scholarship this spring. The scholarship board members, after viewing her video describing how she has been impacted by racism and her list of school and volunteer activities, decided they agreed with the statement.

Muonio, who plans to attend Augsburg College this fall for either neuroscience or social work, is the 2014 recipient of CJMM’s scholarship. She is the daughter of Antonio and Katrina Thunberg. She is the first recipient to receive a $2,500 grant since the program began in 2005.
“We were blown away by her application,” said CJMM director and chair of the scholarship committee Scherrie Foster. “Her video story was incredible. It started out in her home and showed how racism impacted her life and what she is doing to be a change agent. It also included a beautiful self statement.”
Muonio said the video was easy to create because she had plenty of material to show.
“I went to all the places in my life that have been affected in my life by racism. I talked about what happened in these places, how it shaped me as a person. Then I ended up at CJMM because I felt that it represented both halves of myself,” Muonio said.
Muonio describes herself as Ethiopian and Caucasian. She said she is proud of her culture.
“I feel like it [facing racism] made me resilient and strong. I’ve faced racism on both sides, not just one because I’m half black and half white. It’s just helped me be sensitive to what I say and what I believe but also I’ve learned to stand up to it when I see it happening,” Muonio told the Budgeteer.
“I feel like black is beautiful and this society makes it seem like it’s not. So I feel like, on an ending note, as a message to the black generation and especially black women is that you don’t have to change who you are in order to be beautiful. And you don’t have to be white to get a proper education or be accepted for jobs or stuff like that. You define who you are and who you are going to be. It’s our job to change people’s minds if they feel otherwise,” she said.
Muonio has a 4.0 GPA which she maintained by hard work, setting priorities and having tunnel vision. She plays viola and cello in orchestra and volunteers with several organizations including Boys and Girls Club Snacktime, Take Back the Night, key club, multicultural club, Harbortown rotary Club and Men as Peacemaker’s Girls Group.
When she’s not busy volunteering or working, Muonio can be found chasing her passion for dance. She was on dance line in high school and hopes to continue to dance in the future while attending Augsburg this fall.
Muonio also received a full tuition Promise Grant from Augsburg and a scholarship from Harbortown Rotary. She has this advice for future scholarship applicants:
“Be personable and if you’ve been through something, be real about it. Don’t sugarcoat it. Apply for the scholarship whether you think you’re going to get it or not.
It’s worth the 20 minutes of effort. Because 20 minutes could be $2,000,” Muonio said. “And do not procrastinate!”
How does Muonio feel to receive the scholarship?
“I feel honored and blessed, to put it into words. I think that giving me the scholarship doesn’t only impact me but will help me impact others. It doesn’t stop with me,” she said.
Muonio will also speak at the CJMM Day of Remembrance on Monday, June 16 at noon.

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Scherrie Foster, chair of the CJMM scholarship committee poses with Taneasha Muonio, scholarship winner, and fellow board members Stephan Witherspoon and Gail Schoenfelder. (Photo submitted)

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