Fresno State sophomore Mistique Davis was selected as a 2020 Frederick Douglass Global Fellow, earning a scholarship to study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. She is one of 10 college students across the nation to earn the prestigious fellowship, which makes study-abroad opportunities available to college students from Minority Serving Institutions.
For the kinesiology major, the opportunity to travel beyond Fresno, and her hometown of Stockton, is one she does not take for granted.
“When I first met my college adviser, she told me one of the best things I could experience while in college was to study abroad, and my first thought was that I didn’t have the finances to do so,” Davis said. “Now, with this fellowship, I have this amazing opportunity to study in Cape Town, and to experience my African roots, which I have always wanted to do.”
Davis was chosen from among 2,000 applicants. She is part of the fourth cohort of the summer study abroad program focused on leadership and intercultural communication. Travel and fees for the four-week, three-credit program is fully covered through the scholarship, which is sponsored by the Council on International Educational Exchange.
The program, originally scheduled for this July, has been rescheduled for July 2021, as a result of the global impact of COVID-19.
“Now, more than ever, the world needs individuals with strong leadership skills who have the ability to work across cultural divides,” said James Pellow, president and CEO of the Council on International Exchange.
The Frederick Douglass Fellowship launched in 2017 to expand access to international education for underrepresented students who exhibit strong leadership skills, a history of service to others and a commitment to social justice — qualities representative of the award’s namesake, Frederick Douglass, an African American social reformer, abolitionist, orator and international statesman who became a free man in 1847 and spent the next 50 years advocating for positive change.
For Davis, receiving this fellowship now is significant as she has been a passionate and steadfast advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement. She helped to organize a series of peaceful protests with other youth organizers in Stockton, where she spent a majority of her childhood. As the vice president of the Fresno State NAACP chapter, Davis feels a personal responsibility to give back to her community.
“This fellowship is not [just] for me,” Davis said. “I may be the one going, but it’s not for me. It’s for my little sister. It’s for the people of Stockton, which is such an incredibly diverse community, and it’s for my black peers and classmates here at Fresno State. This gives me an opportunity to truly represent the University in a positive way.”
Davis is studying exercise science and aspires to become a physical therapist working with the NFL. Upon returning from her study abroad trip, Davis plans to share her experience exclusively with her peers in a series of workshops and video blogs.
As a foster youth, Davis remains passionate about opening doors for those from similar backgrounds.
“Coming from the foster youth system doesn’t mean you’re less than, but you do have odds stacked up against you,” Davis said. “I’m here to be the match that lights the way for other foster youth like me.”
To learn more about the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, visit ciee.org/fdgf.