September 13, 2022

By Matthew Cimitile

Republished from USF St. Petersburg news here.

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.

“I’m so proud to see our second cohort of SPHERE Racial Justice Fellows stepping up to this challenging and rewarding program,” says Amanda Hagood, an Eckerd College Animal Studies instructor and SPHERE Curriculum Committee Member. “It helps our students engage deeply and courageously with the problems of systemic racism at both campus and community levels, and builds the leadership skills needed to take all of that heart-work and headwork forward. We, as the faculty and staff supporting this process, can learn so much from our student fellows.”

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.

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.

Student testimonials for wanting to be a fellow:

Mari Medina

Marizzol Medina – Eckerd College – Animal Studies Major

“I believe by learning about everyone’s culture, race, or background it will help all of us better understand each other and we won’t be so quick to make assumptions based on appearance.”


Jordan N.

Jordan Nielubowski – Eckerd College – Human Development Major

“The significance in building these interpersonal relationships lies in active and empathetic listening to the needs of those we are aiming to serve, not just assuming what is in their best interest. Actively practicing advocacy and empathy will immensely strengthen my ability to better support my future clients and their families.”


Katherine Mack

Katherine Mack – St. Petersburg College – Public Policy & Administration Major

“There comes a time in everyone’s life where the call to action rings in our ears like church bells. The person can choose to ignore the call to action and continue to live in a superficial world or answer the call and become part of the legacy of change. I want to be part of that legacy. 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.


Dean Mucaj

Dean Mucaj – St. Petersburg College – Business & Entrepreneurship Major

“I believe this fellowship will help me become a better leader.”


Kima Sibayan

Kima Sibayan – USF St. Petersburg campus – Psychology Major

“This opportunity would be exceptionally beneficial to my career and leadership development because, as a psychology major, my career will revolve around helping all people, of all cultures and races.”


Dala Daniels

Dala Daniels – USF St. Petersburg campus – Political Science Major


Zenea Johnson

Zenea Johnson – Stetson University’s College of Law – Juris Doctor Candidate, concentration in Social Justice Advocacy

“I have been inspired more than ever to start advancing my career in racial justice and equity.”


Jessica King

Jessica King – Stetson University’s College of Law – Juris Doctor Candidate

“I believe this fellowship would direct me and keep me focused on my ultimate goal, to make America a more equitable place for all regardless of color, identity, or any other social label.”

October 28, 2021

Reproduced from USF St. Petersburg campus news

The fellowship will put college students at the center of creating systemic change by providing opportunities to shape policy and systems through a racial justice lens.

A consortium of higher education institutions focused on racial justice in Pinellas County has selected its inaugural cohort of Racial Justice Student Fellows.

The St. Pete/Pinellas Higher Education for Race Equity (SPHERE) consortium chose eight students, two each from four Pinellas County universities and colleges, for the year-long fellowship.

“Through our consortium, we seek to acknowledge the unique responsibility of institutions of higher education in seeking systematic change,” said Michelle Madden, campus diversity officer at USF’s St. Petersburg campus, one of the partners of the consortium.

The fellowship will put college students at the center of creating systemic change by providing opportunities to shape policy and systems 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 2021-2022 academic year.

“With the fellowship, our hope is that students will gain the knowledge and tools to actively engage in equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) efforts and see themselves as a part of, and not apart from, the work that is needed to move EDI forward,” said Tashika Griffith, provost at St. Petersburg College, another partner of the consortium.

The eight fellows selected are: Trey Daniels and Kayla Rendon-Torres from Eckerd College; Audrie Brinegar and Na’Keidra Perez from St. Petersburg College; Blake Radford and Megan Holmes from Stetson University’s College of Law; and Aaron Rose and Destiny Gomez from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus.

“I want to be a public service lawyer who offers pro bono services to at risk communities,” Brinegar said, a History major at St. Petersburg College. “This fellowship position will help shape my career.”

Fellows will 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 will include participating in other meetings at their home institutions as well as engaging with community members.

Over the course of the academic year, students will also be involved in at least seven approved activities, events or discussions related to race equity and racial justice. Students will complete a six-week internship in the summer of 2022 that focuses on deepening their understanding of systemic racism and developing opportunities to drive healing and transformation.

“As we build the work of the consortium, the student voice is critical,” said Judith Scully, a professor of law and director of the Social Justice Advocacy program at Stetson College of Law.

“We’re excited for this inaugural cohort and hope to grow the program in the future.”

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.

Student testimonials for wanting to be a fellow 

Trey

Trey Daniels – Eckerd College – Political Science Major

“As an aspiring civil rights defense attorney, I would like to do as much as I can to spark change while being a student. This opportunity will give me hope that I am being a strong advocate for the people in my community that I believe need me the most.”


Kayla

Kayla Rendon-Torres – Eckerd College – Animal Studies and Environmental Studies Major

“By participating in this fellowship, my efforts to support each and every community will blend into the work I do today as a program manager of the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) as well as my role as DEIB coordinator for the Eckerd College Search and Rescue (ECSAR) team.”


Audrie

Audrie Brinegar – St. Petersburg College – History (Pre-law) Major

“This fellowship position will help shape my career. I want to be a public service lawyer who offers pro bono services to at risk communities.”


Na'Keidra

Na’Keidra Perez – St. Petersburg College – Paralegal Studies

“I believe this fellowship will shape my leadership journey and my career by not only giving me the tools and education necessary to set out to close the wealth gap racial divide but it will also allow for many networking opportunities to get my ideas in front of like-minded individuals who can further develop my talent and principles.”


Aaron

Aaron Rose – USF St. Petersburg campus – Global Business

“I know that this fellowship will shape my journey and career because I am a global business major. I have to study abroad and meet people from all over due to my major and I feel that this will help me become more open to different perspectives and views in life.”


Destiny

Destiny Gomez – USF St. Petersburg campus – Psychology Major

“I feel like through this amazing opportunity I would network with many individuals that would be assets to implementing my dreams for this nation. I am eager to correspond with like-minded individuals that share my same passions and have the same fire burning within them.”


Megan

Megan Holmes – Stetson University’s College of Law – Juris Doctor Candidate, B.A. in Political Science and Pre-law

“I came to law school interested in learning how to solve big, intractable problems, specifically those surrounding racial equity. I believe that this fellowship is the perfect next step in my career-long commitment to that cause. This fellowship will provide the opportunity to build a consortium that outlasts my time at Stetson.”


Blake

Blake Radford – Stetson University’s College of Law – Juris Doctor Candidate, B.A. in Political Science, Psychology

“If I want to help end racism and change the environment my cousins will have to grow up in, I need to learn from more enlightened and experienced minds on the tools they’ve used as well as what they have found in their experience to work and not work. I believe this fellowship will give me an opportunity to learn, experience, and discuss the situations we face and have a hand in trying to fix some of the issues. The potential to work with other fellows from various academic institutions and with more experienced individuals who can part their knowledge onto me will undoubtedly grant me a vast array of experience that I can learn from and implement into my leadership style and take forward with me on my journey.”

September 3, 2021

By Joe Opaleski, The St Petersburg Catalyst

A consortium of local colleges, universities and the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete is seeking eight students to help fight racial hierarchies in Pinellas County.

Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College, Stetson College of Law and The University of South Florida St. Petersburg make up the participating schools, and the consortium is selecting two students from each to serve as fellows during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Julie Rocco, director of strategic investments for the foundationsays the main focus of these fellowships will be working through social issues with a racial justice lens, especially in regards to participants’ own lives and experiences. “It will be a journey of self reflection,” she said.

Fellows will be required to participate in seven approved “activities, events or discussions” having to do with race equity during the academic year, as well as a relevant six-week internship during the summer of 2022. They will earn up to $2,000 each while working in the program, made possible by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete via a grant.

Read the entire article here.

September 9, 2021
By Clinton Engelberger, USF Oracle

In an effort to combat racial hierarchies on college campuses, a university-based St. Petersburg consortium is introducing opportunities for students to get involved with their communities and turn words into actions.

The St. Petersburg Higher Education Consortium for Racial Justice, which includes the USF St. Pete campus, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College and Stetson University College of Law, launched the St. Petersburg Racial Justice Fellows Program focused on helping students learn and work on projects focused on racial disparities and injustices across their communities.

“[The fellowship] will bring students together in a community and a cohort in order to discuss these important topics,” said Caryn Nesmith, director of community relations at the St. Pete campus.

Read the rest of the article here.

Students to support local racial justice efforts in St. Petersburg Higher Education Consortium fellowship

The St. Petersburg Higher Education Consortium, made up of four Pinellas County higher education institutions, created a Racial Justice Fellowship to dismantle racial hierarchies and fight for racial justice.


By Isaiah Sterling, The Crow’s Nest at USF St Petersburg campus

Two USF St. Petersburg students will be chosen to support local racial justice efforts during the 2021-22 academic year in a new Racial Justice Fellowship program created by a St. Petersburg Higher Education Consortium.

The purpose of the fellowship program is to place students at the center of efforts to create a systematic change, creating a pipeline to become involved in work related to anti-racist policy and movements, and racial healing and transformation, according to a university press release.

Participating students will each receive up to $2,000 thanks to a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg (FHSP), including a $500 stipend for both fall and spring semesters and an additional $1,000 for an approved summer internship.

USF St. Petersburg, FHSP and three other higher education institutions formed the St. Petersburg Higher Education Consortium for Racial Justice last year.

Director of Community Relations and Consortium member Caryn Nesmith said Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College and Stetson University College of Law also make up the Consortium.

Read the rest of the article here.

November 19, 2021

By Briona Arradondo, Fox 13 News

Students are often at the helm of social change, and that’s what some Tampa Bay universities want to tap into through a new racial justice fellowship at the University of South Florida.

The program aims to give students the tools to advocate for diversity and equity in their communities and learn about systemic racism and racial injustice.

“I immigrated from Jamaica to America and getting used to the society in America of being a black man and having to understand that. I want to make a difference in my community so I decided this program would be the best fit me,” said Aaron Rose, a USF freshman studying global business.

The racial justice fellowship is a pilot program with eight students this year with Stetson College of Law, Eckerd College and St. Peterburg college to teach students about diversity and shaping policy with the help of nonprofits in Pinellas County.

See video and read more at

September 21

By Amanda Hagood, The St Pete Catalyst

At a time when cultural and political upheavals in our country call for drastic changes, slowing down to focus on building a collective truth and healing racial division may not feel like the most immediate or intuitive path toward justice. But a new effort to establish a Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation center, spearheaded by a consortium of St. Pete higher education institutions including University of South Florida St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg College, Stetson University College of Law, and Eckerd College, aims to do precisely that.

The process began in summer of 2020, when USF St. Petersburg’s regional chancellor Dr. Martin Tadlock first convened a taskforce of campus and community leaders focused on finding solutions to pervasive racial injustice in St. Petersburg. Stakeholders from local nonprofits, colleges and universities, and the City of St. Petersburg came together to explore models of social justice advocacy and discovered the W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation™ (TRHT) framework.

The framework identifies “false beliefs in a hierarchy of human value” as central to creating and sustaining racism, and understands dismantling those beliefs as a first step toward achieving racial equity.

Read the rest of the story here.

June 22, 2021

By Lauren Coffey, Tampa Bay Business Journal

Four St. Petersburg-based higher education institutions have teamed up to work with the greater community on racial equity and inclusion.

The consortium, which has spent the last six months putting the building blocks in place, will meet this week to nail down more specific goals it wishes to accomplish. The group came out of a community task force initiative at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus last year.

“There is a lot happening in St. Pete and the region, with racial justice and equity work that’s occurring,” said Caryn Nesmith, a coordinator of the consortium and special assistant to the USF St. Pete chancellor for strategic initiatives. “You have local government, nonprofits and even corporations [doing the work], and we wanted to complement the work already going on, instead of overshadow or compete. When you look at enacting change, with working toward progress, you look at systems, and we have higher education as a system.”

The entities, including St. Petersburg College, Eckerd College and Stetson University College of Law, are funded by a $50,000 Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete grant. While details are still being worked out, the group has several different goals, led by five main pillars: narrative change, racial healing and relationship building, separation, law and economy.

“We saw our participating in the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Centers as critical in the preparation of the next generation of strategic leaders and thinkers,” Devona Pierre, the equity, diversity and inclusion director at SPC, said in a statement. “It’s important to have the program in order for our community to embrace racial healing while also confronting racial divides and seeking to be a part of the transformative process. It is our hope to work as a community of educational institutions to build a more equitable, just and racially diverse community.”

Read the rest of the story here.

The consortium, consisting of four higher education institutions in the St. Petersburg area, hopes to implement an action plan for dismantling racial hierarchies.
ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

June 15, 2021

By Clinton Engelberger and Julianna Jung, USF Oracle

In an effort to create an action plan to dismantle racial hierarchies on college campuses, representatives from four universities in the St. Petersburg area, including the USF St. Pete campus, are forming a consortium to address racial disparities.

Regional Chancellor of USF’s St. Pete campus Martin Tadlock said the goal of the consortium, which also includes Eckerd College, Stetson University College of Law and St. Petersburg College, is to provide a sense of learning and understanding among students and faculty about recognizing racist tendencies and providing support to people of color.

“Our goals as a partner in this consortium is to make sure that all of our students, faculty and staff are able to engage in understanding the racial issues that exist in this community, and how to be anti-racist,” Tadlock said. “[Students will have] many opportunities to educate themselves through a variety of workshops and seminars and opportunities to engage in the community.”

In order to put this plan into action, a team of three representatives from each university will be attending a four-day summer institute, from June 22-25, sponsored by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, according to Tadlock.

The institute will be developing an action plan to address these issues, as well as bring teams from other colleges together to communicate ideas about different strategies in combating racial inequity.

Read the rest of the story here.

June 3, 2021
USF St. Petersburg Campus News

A higher education consortium focused on dismantling racial hierarchies and led by USF St. Petersburg campus has been selected for a summer institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Centers.

Representatives from four higher education institutions who collectively serve 36,000 students in St. Petersburg, Florida are joining together to create a consortium focused on dismantling racial hierarchies.

After working for months to create a shared vision and reaching out to community and campus stakeholders, their efforts have been recognized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as one of 78 institutions (and the only consortium) across the nation selected to participate in a four-day Summer Institute to learn about the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) framework and develop an action plan. The consortium includes Eckerd College, Stetson University College of Law, St. Petersburg College (SPC) and the University of South Florida (USF) St. Petersburg campus.

Read the rest of the story here.