ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Sept. 13, 2022) – A consortium of higher education institutions focused on racial justice in Pinellas County has selected its second class of college students to be Racial Justice Student Fellows.
The St. Petersburg/Pinellas Higher Education for Racial Equity (SPHERE) Consortium chose eight students, two each from four Pinellas County universities and colleges, for the year-long fellowship.
“Working with leaders in the community and the SPHERE consortium, this class of Racial Justice Fellows will build on the work of the first cohort and help to establish real change through projects focused on shaping policy and transforming systems to create more equitable outcomes for all,” said Michelle Madden, campus diversity officer at USF’s St. Petersburg campus, one of the institutions in the consortium.
The fellowship will put college students at the center of creating systemic change by providing opportunities to inform policy and address barriers through a racial justice lens. Students will learn about mechanisms that enable racial healing and serve in summer internships to work on projects that support racial healing and transformation in the local community. Each student will receive up to $2,000 during the 2022-2023 academic year.
“We hope that SPHERE’s one-year fellowship and summer community internships will introduce our students to a lifetime commitment of addressing racial injustices,” said Judith Scully, a professor of law and director of the Social Justice Advocacy program at Stetson College of Law. “Our curriculum is merely a foundation for our students to stand upon as they begin to see themselves as courageous leaders with a focus on racial equity.”
The eight fellows selected this year are: Marizzol Medina and Jordan Nielubowski from Eckerd College; Katherine Mack and Dean Mucaj from St. Petersburg College; Zenea Johnson and Jessica King from Stetson University’s College of Law; and Dala Daniels and Kima Sibayan from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus.
Fellows follow a curriculum that covers issues on racial history, diversity, equity and more, have regular meetings with mentors and will complete a six-week internship in the summer of 2023 that focuses on deepening their understanding of systemic racism and developing opportunities to drive healing and transformation. Last year, Racial Justice Student Fellows completed internships with organizations such as the NAACP, the city of St. Petersburg, the St. Pete Youth Farm and Community Tampa Bay.
Over the course of the academic year, students will also be involved in several approved activities, events or discussions related to race equity and racial justice and are able to participate in biweekly planning meetings with consortium institution representatives to help shape the vision, goals and activities of a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center for Pinellas County. This can include participating in other meetings at their home institutions as well as engaging with community members.
“I want to be part of a legacy of change. Being part of the Fellows Program will allow me to be exposed to mentors and teachers who will continue to cultivate the flame of resistance that lives in me,” said Katherine Mack, a Public Policy & Administration major at St. Petersburg College
SPHERE is a joint initiative among Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College, Stetson University College of Law, USF St. Petersburg campus and the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. The collaboration emerged out of a community task force that was convened to connect efforts in addressing inequalities that exist in the region. These institutions, which collectively serve more than 40,000 students, have been collaborating since the fall of 2020 to create a consortium working to dismantle racial hierarchies in the region.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success, generates an annual economic impact of more than $6 billion. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.