GSAS Announces Devon T. Wade Mentorship and Service Award

August 20, 2021
Devon T. Wade

To honor the life, work, and legacy of Devon T. Wade, a doctoral student in Sociology who was killed in a tragic act of violence, the Graduate School has instituted a new prize in his name, Dean Carlos J. Alonso announced on May 13, 2018, at the GSAS Convocation ceremony for doctoral graduates.

The Devon T. Wade Mentorship and Service Award will be given each year to a PhD candidate who embodies the ethos and activism that characterized Dr. Wade, in order to “turn Devon’s life into an inspiration for those who follow,” Dean Alonso said, after reflecting on Dr. Wade’s impact at Columbia and beyond.

Dean Alonso then presented Dr. Wade’s doctoral degree to his brother, Stevon Wade, and his mother, Suzanne Wade. At the time of his death, Dr. Wade had produced a first draft of his doctoral dissertation; the Department of Sociology recommended unanimously that the degree be awarded posthumously in recognition of this achievement.

Informed by his own upbringing in a low-income Houston neighborhood plagued by violence, Dr. Wade dedicated himself to researching the understanding of inequality along racial and class lines. His work revealed the collateral consequences that incarceration has on the family—and specifically, the impact that this stigma has on the children involved. In recognition of his outstanding academic accomplishments, Dr. Wade received while in graduate school several prestigious awards, including the Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Fellowship, and the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellowship.

Dr. Wade also worked closely with the Graduate School to ensure that diversity was always at the forefront of its agenda. He was a founding member of the Students of Color Alliance (SoCA), served as a student representative on the search committee that led to the hiring of the Dean of Academic Diversity in GSAS, and was an active member of the Graduate School’s Summer Research Program as a graduate student mentor. Additionally, he traveled across the US to deliver motivational and keynote addresses at prisons, and mentored the children of incarcerated parents through No More Victims, a not-for-profit organization in Houston.