|Dr. Jocelind Gant (second from left), associate vice president for international programs, stands with the Frederick Douglass Scholars who visited Clarion University this summer. From left are: Chelda Smith, Gant, Saidat Ilo and Zoeanne Finzi-Smith.|
In keeping with the mission of the Frederick Douglass Scholars Program to foster diversity and inclusion in the professorate, Clarion University of Pennsylvania selected three scholars from Howard University for a summer teaching experience. The summer program, in its 13th year, is one of three components of the Frederick Douglass Institute at Clarion University.
The three doctoral candidates selected for Summer Session II are: Saidat Ilo and Zoeann Finzi-Smith, both from Howard University, Washington, D.C., and Chelda Smith, University of Minnesota.
In her dissertation, Ilo, originally from Nigeria and pursuing a doctorate in political science, explores the trilateral relationship between Nigeria, China and the United States. According to Ilo, looking over the last decade, Nigeria has experienced growth with its gross national income.
“What’s responsible for the growth?” Ilo said. “Is it the relationship with China, or the foundation the United States has already laid, and its governance?”
Smith, a native of Haiti, is completing her doctorate in curriculum instruction at University of Minnesota. Her dissertation focuses on developing critical consciousness with pre-service teachers, looking at the extent to which teacher educators are critical and able enact culturally responsible pedagogy, and the extent to which it’s successful and beneficial to both students and teachers.
In Finzi-Smith’s dissertation, she seeks to understand the role of discrimination on eating behaviors in obese black women.
“I’m looking at the role of racism, sexism, colorism and wage-based discrimination in eating behaviors and how it contributes to obesity in the United States,” Finzi-Smith said. She is pursing a doctorate in counseling psychology.
The women presented on their dissertation topics June 25 in Clarion and June 26 at Venango College, Oil City. They also were co-instructors of a summer class.
For Finzi-Smith, visiting Clarion University was a welcome opportunity.
“It aligned us with good resources to promote and focus on our dissertations … It gave us a teaching experience for individuals interested in pursuing a professorial career and gave us experience with online instruction,” she said.
“It provided the critical feedback (to our dissertations) and the ability to practice our presentations,” she said. “The dedicated time and space has allotted the freedom for data analysis, and that’s where I’m at right now.”
Ilo appreciated the fresh setting of Clarion University.
“I liked removing myself from (Washington) D.C. and the hustle and bustle of the city. At Clarion I could sit and concentrate and not have the distractions I’d have in the city,” she said. “I was able to talk to people outside of my (doctoral) committee; they asked me different questions, and I had a different set of eyes looking at my work.”
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