Cheyney University Sophomore is One of the Nation’s First Frederick Douglass Global Fellows

November 1, 2016

View Slideshow

Cheyney Keystone Honors Academy Scholar Meghan Sowersby, pictured in Spain this past summer, is headed to London this coming summer as one of the nation's first-ever Frederick Douglass Global Fellows

View full gallery

Cheyney University sophomore Meghan Sowersby, a Keystone Honors Academy Scholar, has been awarded a prestigious Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship. She and nine other students from around the nation beat out many students from all over the country to be the first-ever Frederick Douglass Fellows. As such, they will take part in a summer study abroad program designed to enhance their leadership and intercultural skills in London, England.

The Fellowship, part of a strategic three-year partnership between CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange and the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, is a nationwide initiative designed to break down the barriers of cost, curriculum, and culture to make study abroad accessible to students from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

According to the selection committee, all 10 Frederick Douglass Global Fellows are meritorious individuals who 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. In the spirit of Frederick Douglass, one of America’s most powerful intellectuals, communicators, and scholars, Sowersby and her counterparts have committed to sharing their experiences and intercultural growth with peers and classmates before, during, and after their summer abroad.

In her video submission that accompanied her application for the all-inclusive scholarship, Sowersby, a Communications major who is minoring in Spanish, explained why she wanted to become a Frederick Douglass Global Fellow.

“Study abroad allows students to gain so many valuable perspectives and allows them to build relationships internationally, creating a network of positive reinforcement and global understanding,” she said. She plans to learn as much as she can so that she can come back, share her experiences, inspire others, mentor students and encourage minority students to study abroad.

“These fellows exemplify the wonderful kinds of students that attend Minority Serving Institutions,” said Marybeth Gasman, professor, and Director of CMSI. “They’re determined and inspiring, and they represent the future leaders of our increasingly diverse nation.”

“Frederick Douglass was an American icon. He escaped from slavery, wrote and spoke widely on issues of human rights and social justice in America and Europe, and became one of the most influential figures of the 19th century concerning the abolition and suffrage movements, as well as domestic and international relations,” stated James P. Pellow, President and CEO of CIEE. “We’re honored to partner with Penn CMSI to enable a new generation of student leaders to build on their impressive credentials with an international experience to London, similar to Frederick Douglass’ international experience in 1845.”

This isn’t Sowersby’s first trip abroad. The outgoing and determined 19-year-old from Glenolden, PA spent this past summer in Spain as part of the PA State System of Higher Education’s Summer Honors Program. The three-week course, The Road to Santiago: A Medieval Pilgrimage from Leon to Santiago de Compostela, was part of an adventure which brought together the academic, artistic, spiritual, and physical realms of life by focusing on and participating in one of the most traditional and perennial activities of human beings–PILGRIMAGE. Like the upcoming London trip, the scholarship paid for everything—travel, lodging and the class.

"The trip had many benefits--culturally, spiritually, historically, socially and so much more," explains Sowersby. "We were able to experience a traditional Spanish and Catholic pilgrimage while living in the 21st Century. Throughout our trip we were able to meet people not only from Spain, but from all over the world. Everyone, no matter who you were or where you came from, had one thing in common--we were all hiking El Camino de Santiago. In some cases, people didn't even speak English or Spanish but, somehow, we were all able to communicate and bond over our shared experiences."

While Sowersby, a Communication major who is minoring in Spanish, could have gone to school elsewhere, she chose Cheyney because of its high quality honors academy and the Keystone scholarship which is paying for her entire college education, and because of the many opportunities that the small campus offers. As a freshman, she served on Cheyney's Varsity Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Team which competes in brain games against college teams from the region and the nation. In addition, she reports for the University's Public Relations office and serves as Public Relations Officer for both the Keystone Honors Council and the Roteract Club.

“I couldn’t have done all of these trips without these scholarships and awards, so this fellowship makes my educational experience much sweeter," beamed Sowersby. "I want to thank Cheyney for allowing me to pursue these opportunities. It has changed my life in ways that I would have never thought possible.”

"Studying abroad is a life changing experience, and the Office of International Programs is delighted to provide information on these opportunities for Cheyney University students, as well as to assist them with the application process," remarked Dr. Norma George, Cheyney's Director of International Programs. " We are particularly excited when students take advantage of programs such as this which are funded, as it alleviates the financial burden on students. Studies show that students who study abroad have a higher persistence and graduation rate than those who do not, and that they are more likely to graduate on time. In addition, they are more competitive when applying for jobs and graduate school. I urge all Cheyney University students to take advantage of opportunities for studying abroad. Information and programs as well as scholarships are available from the Office of International Programs."

Study abroad programs in Cape Town, South Africa (summer 2018) and Seoul, South Korea (summer 2019) are already planned for the second and third cohort of Frederick Douglass Global Fellows.

Founded in 1947, CIEE is the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization, serving more than 400 U.S. colleges and universities, 1,000 U.S. high schools, and more than 40,000 international exchange students each year.