Addressing diversity in study abroad programs

Hali Smith, CAU class of 2022, Mass Media Arts major

Clark Atlanta’s very own freshman Hali Smith was one of 10 students selected around the country for the prestigious Frederick Douglas Global Fellowship.

The Council for Independent Educational Exchange (CIEE) president James Pellow and director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CSMI) Marybeth Gasman wanted to create a change in study abroad programs.

The fellowship will take place in London from July 15 to August 11. The 10 fellows will partake in a course on, “Intercultural learning and leadership with a concentration on life skills development in a global context,” Dr. Keshia Abraham, manager of the fellowship said. The fellowship is ensured to give the fellows a top notch experience and allow them to become an advocate for the program, “I will advocate for study abroad and share about my experience,” Smith said.  

Dr. Abraham also shared, “They had a conversation about how to really shift the times in study abroad for underrepresented students.”

The fellowship is an opportunity for underrepresented students to stop being underrepresented and seen in a different light while also experiencing study abroad. Minority institutions are the focus point of the fellowship because many students of color are often unfamiliar or least likely to study abroad. With presidents and faculty speaking more publicly about study abroad it helps students understand the importance of the opportunity.

Smith took an interest in the fellowship because it appealed towards HBCU and minority serving institutions, “That made it feel like the program cared about who I was as a student and about making my peers unique to me,” Smith said. The fellowship is directed towards minority serving institutions and, “Students who already demonstrated great leadership qualities and who understand the need for a study abroad experience,” Dr. Abraham said. Smith demonstrates these qualities.

The founders of FDGF wanted a person who upheld and spoke to the values of the fellowship. “A commitment to education, to statesmanship understood broadly as a commitment to justice social justice and giving back to others,” Dr. Abraham said. Frederick Douglas did just that. These are values expected by the fellows to uphold.

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