Friday, June 12, 2015

Mellon Scholars Program: The Burgeoning Expedition to Community Camaraderie

In a series of occasional blog posts, participants in our Mellon Scholars Internship and Workshop programs will introduce themselves, discuss their experiences at the Library Company, and share their goals for pursuing careers in the field of early African American history. This program is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Howdy y’all! My name is Jalyn Gordon, and I am from Fort Worth, Texas. I will be an incoming senior at the University of Houston studying Political Science and African-American Studies, and I am ecstatic to participate in the Mellon Scholars Internship Program! As an individual who has attended schools comprised of a myriad of cultures, I was never fully aware of my “differences” until attending my prestigious majority Eurocentric college preparatory high school—I was never treated the same by my peers and I was confused as to why.

I became deeply fascinated with my own cultural history as a college freshman taking an Introduction to African-American Studies class. Needless to say, my life was never the same, and I understood why I experienced the racial hostilities I endured in high school. I instantly became immersed in the challenges and victories of the Africana Diaspora. This deep fascination was heightened when I became the President of the Black Student Union, an umbrella organization for all campus Africana-centered organizations that focus on unifying the black student/faculty population on campus as a whole. This position (and not entirely taking pleasure in other opportunities such as working for Houston’s City Council) affirmed my passion and devotion to Urban Community Development.

Our African-American Studies Department does an excellent job of communicating internship prospects for its students; and as you all can see, I was a recipient of this efficient communication. As I read over the qualifications and description of the Mellon Scholars Program, I whispered to myself, “Girl there’s no way you’re going to get this.” But, my life motto, ‘What would you do if you knew you could not fail?’ reminded me that with the correct mindset, I am capable of all things. (Imagine how I felt when I opened my acceptance letter!). At the Library Company, I am researching the rise of black communalism and autonomy in Philadelphia in the 1800s. Combining my love of politics, community transformation, and black leadership, this topic has graced me with the chance to read some riveting books; my current favorite, titled Freedom’s Prophet, was written by the fabulous Dr. Newman. 

After I complete my undergraduate career, I would like to immediately attend graduate school to pursue a degree in either Public Policy or Higher Education Administration.  I plan to use my knowledge to revolutionize and revamp the spirit of camaraderie in the black community and/or on higher education campuses.

Jalyn Gordon
Mellon Scholars Intern, Summer 2015

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