This summer six undergraduate students participated in an eight-week fellowship program on the campus of the University of Virginia entitled the Leadership Alliance Mellon Initiative. The program seeks to encourage students from underrepresented minority groups to pursue graduate studies in the humanities, education, and social sciences. Four of the six students at the University of Virginia’s program are from historically Black colleges and universities.
Malika Johnson, a junior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., majoring in sociology and Africana studies, spent her time at the University of Virginia conducting research on the portrayal of African American women in elementary school textbooks. Johnson found that few text books featured minority women and Johnson wonders about “the effect this has on the cultural identity of young African American girls.”
Johnson said that the Leadership Alliance Mellon Initiative “impacted me in numerous ways, which include greater confidence in my presenting skills; knowledge on grad school and careers; and even insight on if this is something I want to do for the rest of my life (which I have decided it is).”