Section: News

ODEI Leadership Fellowship Program to launch in fall 2024

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) will launch the Transformative Leadership for Inclusion Fellowship program in the fall 2024 semester. Designed to provide upcoming student leaders with faculty mentorship and a capstone opportunity, the fellowship will recognize five students over the next academic year and is currently seeking applications for its inaugural cohort. 

According to Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion René Guo, the fellowship program originated as a response to the lack of leadership initiatives across campus. “Many student leaders are overwhelmed and stretched thin across various commitments, leading to burnout,” Guo wrote in an email to the Collegian. “The existing leadership pipeline for affinity groups proves unsustainable, particularly for leaders from marginalized backgrounds.” 

The fellowship program will consist of three components, beginning with monthly leadership sessions. According to an email from ODEI to the student body, the leadership sessions will be approximately 90 minutes and will take place on the last Friday of six months of the academic calendar, excluding November, December, April and May. “Sessions will explore leadership theories from both mainstream and underrepresented scholars, equipping students with a nuanced leadership vocabulary,” Guo said. 

Students will also have faculty mentorship throughout the program’s duration. According to Guo, these faculty members will be from the Student Affairs Division or the Academic Affairs Division and will be paired with each student based on common interests and leadership styles. 

The final component is a capstone leadership project, which will be presented at a symposium at the end of each academic year. According to ODEI’s email, participating students may be honored as a “Rising Leader of Kenyon” and receive the “Transformative Leadership Award” at the program’s conclusion. 

Each of these components, according to Guo, will help student leaders to build meaningful relationships with faculty and staff, as well as explore potential initiatives that will help encourage student leadership on campus. “This fellowship represents a step toward fostering a more inclusive and resilient campus community,” Guo said. “We aim to empower student leaders of all backgrounds to be mindful of their commitments, effective in their outreach and strategic in their organizational visions.” 

Currently, ODEI is accepting applications for the 2024-25 academic year, particularly from rising sophomores and juniors. The application deadline is July 1, and students will be notified of their decision by July 15. The program will last approximately nine months over the course of one academic year. 

Guo added that while the inaugural cohort will only be five students, ODEI expects that the fellowship program will continue to grow in size over the next few academic years, providing students from affinity groups with the necessary skills for student leadership. 

“We intentionally designed the program to foster empowerment and growth rather than focusing on deficits in student leadership,” Guo wrote. “ODEI believes that every student leader possesses unique strengths capable of catalyzing institutional and cultural change.”

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