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Briya Todd Becomes Spelman's First Frederick Douglass Fellow

March 2019

Briya Todd Spelman CollegeBriya Malia Todd, C’2021, has been selected as one of 10 students across the country to earn the prestigious Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship. As a Frederick Douglass Global Fellow, Todd has received a full scholarship to study abroad program in London this summer.

“We congratulate Briya Malia Todd for being the first Spelman student to win the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship that will provide her the opportunity to participate in a Council on International Educational Exchange four-week course on leadership and intercultural engagement in London. We are proud of her,” said 'Dimeji R. Togunde, Ph.D., associate provost for global education and professor of international studies at Spelman, where 75 percent of the class of 2018 participated in study abroad.

Making Studying Abroad Possible

Of the 332,727 U.S. college students who studied abroad in 2017, less than 30 percent were students of color -- 0.4 percent American Indian/Alaskan Native, 4.3 percent multiracial, 6.1 percent African American, 8.2 percent Asian/Pacific Islander and 10 percent Hispanic Americans, according to data from the Institute of International Education.  The data shows that students of color largely miss out on international education experiences that can play a critical role in their personal growth, as well as academic and career success.

The Frederick Douglass Fellowship, which launched in 2017, 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.

Global Achiever With Small Town Roots

A native of LaGrange, Georgia, Todd said the Fellowship will allow her to accomplish many of her personal goals, such as exploring communities across the globe outside of her small hometown. Passionate about social justice, Todd  has a long-term goal to be an attorney and challenge issues that impact communities of color like mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline.

“I also aspire to be an ambassador in my lifetime,” said Todd, a political science major. “This career is not easy to obtain. But the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship will put me on a fast track towards that goal. I’m proud that the Fellowship seeks out students who excel and believes in us enough to invest in our future and believes in furthering the dreams of students like myself.”

Exemplary Student Leaders

The Fellows are nominated by the presidents of their respective institutions and selected during a national competition. The winners demonstrate high academic achievement, possess exemplary communication skills, display the hallmarks of self-determination, exhibit characteristics of bold leadership, and have a history of service to others.

“The students selected for the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship are 10 exemplary student leaders who demonstrate the iconic leadership, keen intellect, and natural change-agent attributes of Frederick Douglass,” said James P. Pellow, president and CEO of CIEE. “These students will be the next generation of leaders and I know that the intercultural competence and global perspective they will gain during the London program will benefit them throughout their lives.”

Todd said she looks forward to returning to Spelman after her summer abroad and sharing the knowledge she gains, noting that she takes pride in being a mentor and a student leader. “Spelman encourages its students to become global citizens,” she said. “It is important to acknowledge your own footprint in this world. Through this opportunity, I will become a better global citizen and I will create a larger footprint.”

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