Two BMCC Students Selected for Community College Global Affairs Fellowship in Washington D.C.

Vanique Davis and Eduardo Lebron
L-R, Vanique Davis and Eduardo Lebron.

May 11, 2023

Two Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) students—Linguistics and Literacy major Vanique Davis and Computer Network Technology major Eduardo Lebron—have been selected to participate in the Community College Global Affairs Fellowship (CCGAF) this summer in Washington D.C. Lebron and Davis, who both graduate this Spring, are among 30 fellows selected out of more than 140 applicants

The CCGAF is a paid summer enrichment and mentorship program that expands access to global education opportunities and international affairs careers for community college, transfer and non-traditional students.  The fellowship is funded through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

A partnership between Meridian International Center, Global Community College Transfers (GCCT) and Community Colleges for International Development (CCID), the CCGAF provides evidence-based, skill-building mentorship and one-on-one coaching. The student fellows will gain access to networks and career supports, enabling global affairs students and professionals to advance to higher levels of leadership and become decision-makers on the world stage.

The CCGAF has two primary components: a virtual one-on-one mentorship program as well as a two-week, in-person Summer Enrichment program.  The mentorship program will begin May 30 and run through August 16. This component of the fellowship is organized by GCCT. Fellows are paired with international affairs practitioners, many of whom were community college transfer students. The mentorship program consists of weekly workshops on topics such as resume writing and networking skills as well as routine mentor-mentee meetings and completion of small assignments contributing to the fellow’s professional and personal development.

The Summer Enrichment Program will take place in Washington, DC from Sunday, June 18 to Saturday, July 1. This component is organized by Meridian International Center. Activities will include an interactive diplomatic skills training course, briefings on how U.S. foreign policy is made, career panel discussions, site visits to federal agencies, networking sessions, visits to cultural institutions, an evening reception and more.

An opportunity to put Linguistics to work in International Affairs

Vanique Davis spent much of her childhood in the countryside of Ocho Ríos, Jamaica.  When she was ten years old, Davis immigrated to the United States and New York City became home.  She chose BMCC because the College offered a Linguistics major and unlike a number of other schools, the application process was streamlined.

“It was hard navigating the bureaucratic landscape of college as a first-generation college student,” said Davis.  “BMCC didn’t have those barriers.”

Once enrolled, Davis says ASAP advisor Tracy Wheeler helped her stay consistent and graduate on time.  She also said her BMCC professors had an impact.

“I want to give special thanks to Academic Literacy and Linguistics Professor Mabel Asante and English Professor Navdeep Dhillon for believing in me even when I doubted myself,” said Davis. “In Professor Asante’s World Englishes class, I was able to do a research paper on the development of my own language, Jamaican Creole. Her guidance and support on that project triggered a lot of eureka moments for me and solidified my passion for linguistics.”

Davis plans to use part of her time during the fellowship to learn about careers in international affairs and diplomacy.

“I’ve always been interested in different languages, cultures and politics, so the relevance of this program to my own interests motivated me to apply,” said Davis.  “There’s a lot of demand for linguistic research and applications in foreign affairs and national defense, so I jumped at the opportunity to put my linguistic knowledge to use.”

In the future, Davis plans to continue her education at a four-year institution and earn a bachelor degree in Linguistics. She also noted that many of the mentors in the fellowship program are themselves community college graduates, who have been awarded scholarships to study abroad. Davis plans to apply for study abroad opportunities as well, to advance her studies of languages including Korean and Spanish.

“In five years, I see myself with a more advanced degree and a career with a stable source of income,” said Davis.

Learning how government works and expanding world views

Eduardo Lebron said he applied for the fellowship because he hopes to engage in programs that are outside his academic field of study.  He also said traveling to Washington D.C. will provide a chance to expand his world view.

“I am also looking forward to gaining an in-depth understanding of how government works, as this fellowship will give me the opportunity to learn directly from people who make changes in the system,” he said.

Lebron, who grew up in Harlem, chose BMCC because he believed it had the most to offer.

“BMCC has given me an environment that fosters personal growth and allowed me to develop myself as a person, as well as giving me the resources to build myself up as both a professional and an academic,” said Lebron, who landed an IT-related internship through the BMCC Office of Internships and Experiential Learning and is now planning to work his way up the career ladder.

Lebron also said the CUNY ASAP program had been instrumental in his academic success so far.

“The community and support that I was given, the resources and supplies, the workshops and events, the list goes on and on,” said Lebron. “I was molded into the person I am because of BMCC and ASAP.”

Lebron has been accepted to bachelor’s degree programs at several colleges and universities, including New York University, and ultimately, he chose Lehman College, CUNY.

“In five years, I see myself working at a stable job, doing IT for the state or federal government,” he said.

  • Summer enrichment and mentorship program expands access to global education opportunities
  • Fellows are paired with international affairs practitioners
  • Mentorship includes weekly workshops to build workplace skills

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