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Sophomore Psychology Major Becomes Spelman College's Second Frederick Douglass Fellow Share a Spelman College Press Release


Mashaun D. Simon
Spelman College
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia

Leslie Taylor

Spelman Student Selected as Second Frederick Douglass Global FellowATLANTA (June 15, 2020) – Nichole Ciara Johnson, C’2023, a psychology major with a mental health concentration, is among 10 students from across the county to earn the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship. Johnson becomes Spelman College’s second student selected to receive the prestigious award.

The Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship affords students from minority serving institutions the opportunity to participate in a customized summer study abroad program focused on leadership and intercultural communication. Fellows are selected based on their academic achievement, communication skills and commitment to social justice — qualities representative of the award’s namesake.

“Spelman sincerely appreciates the intentionality of CIEE in increasing access to study abroad for students from the Minority Serving Institutions through the annual Frederick Douglas Fellowship.  And we are very proud of Nichole Johnson's selection as one of the 2020 Fellows,” said ‘Dimeji Togunde, Ph.D., professor of international studies and the inaugural vice provost for global education in the Gordon-Zeto Center for Global Education. “As a Spelman ambassador on the program, we are confident that she will maximize this opportunity to enhance her knowledge of global issues and intercultural competence in the summer of 2021."

Due to the coronavirus global pandemic, the 2020 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship program, which was originally scheduled to take place this summer in Cape Town, South Africa, has been postponed. Instead, students will study abroad in 2021. Fellows will receive a full scholarship to attend an online course on Nelson Mandela during summer 2020.

“Being named a Frederick Douglass Global fellow is an honor that brings to life for me excitement and a little bit of anxiety. Being selected means that I have a chance to spread awareness and develop more appreciation for the African culture,” said Johnson. “Having the opportunity to study abroad, learn about different people and cultures and develop myself as a global leader is a privilege. I am excited to share what I learn with other potential leaders in my cohort and within my community.”

Launched in 2017, the Frederick Douglas Fellowship is representative of efforts by the Council on International Educational Exchange, the nation’s largest non-profit facilitator of studying abroad, and the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, to increase diversity in study abroad by breaking down the barriers of cost, curriculum, and culture that prevent students from participating in international education experiences.

Of the 332,727 U.S. college students who studied abroad in 2017, less than 30 percent were students of color.  The data shows that students of color largely miss out on international education experiences, which have been shown to play a critical role in personal growth, as well as academic and career success.

“Now more than ever, the world needs individuals with strong leadership skills who have the ability to work across cultural divides,” said James Pellow, CIEE’s president and CEO. “Frederick Douglass was transformed by his international experience and returned to the States in 1847 as a free man who spent the next 50 years of his life agitating for positive change in our world. We hope that the lives of these Fellows are changed as well, and that this experience will prepare them to become bold, globally conscious, service-oriented leaders.”

A native of Bakersfield, California, Johnson is looking most forward to acquiring the skills and perspectives needed to grow as a global leader.

“As a psychology major, this opportunity will be a large aid in helping me understand people with respect to culture,” she said. “Academically, I will be able to bring to class discussions a different cultural perspective. Professionally, the fellowship will build my leadership skills, teach me how to effectively work with a group for a cause, and help me acquire intercultural relationships with the other fellows and people in the community.”

About The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions
The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions brings together researchers and practitioners from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. The Center’s goals include: elevating the educational contributions of MSIs; ensuring that they are a part of national conversations; bringing awareness to the vital role MSIs play in the nation’s economic development; increasing the rigorous scholarship of MSIs; connecting MSIs’ academic and administrative leadership to promote reform initiatives; and strengthening efforts to close educational achievement gaps among disadvantaged communities. For further information about the Center, please visit

About CIEE
CIEE, the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization, transforms lives and builds bridges by promoting the exchange of ideas and experiences. To help people develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world, CIEE sponsors a wide variety of opportunities for cultural exchange, including work exchange programs, teach abroad programs, and a worldwide portfolio of study abroad and internship programs for college and high school students. Visit

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete PhDs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 51 among all liberal arts colleges and No. 1 among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit


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