LaGrange High graduate awarded prestigious scholarship

Published 5:12 pm Friday, April 5, 2019

Malia Todd, a 2017 graduate of LaGrange High School, was recently awarded a prestigious Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship (FDGF), which provides a full scholarship for the current Spelman College sophomore to attend a study abroad program in London this summer.

The FDGF is operated jointly by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), the nation’s largest nonprofit facilitator of studying abroad, and the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI).  Each year, the Fellowship is awarded to 10 outstanding students that attend a Minority Serving Institution (MSI).

Even at a young age, Todd has demonstrated a passionate commitment to helping others.  The political science major heads her own organization, The PrettySmart Society, which focuses on mentoring girls aged 8-18. Todd is also a member of the Alpha Lamba Delta Honor Society, the Golden Key Society, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Todd said the Frederick Douglas Global Fellowship will allow her to accomplish many of her personal goals, such as exploring communities across the globe outside of her small hometown.  She wants to be an attorney and an ambassador.

“I aspire to be an ambassador in my lifetime,” Todd said. “This career is not easy to obtain. But the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship will put me on a fast track toward that goal. I’m proud that the fellowship seeks out students who excel and believes in us enough to invest in our future and believes in furthering the dreams of students like myself.”

Todd said she looks forward to returning to Spelman after her summer abroad and sharing the knowledge she gains, noting that she takes pride in being a mentor and a student leader. “Spelman encourages its students to become global citizens,” she said. “It is important to acknowledge your own footprint in this world. Through this opportunity, I will become a better global citizen and I will create a larger footprint.”

The Fellows were nominated by their college presidents and selected during a national competition. The winners have demonstrated high academic achievement, possess exemplary communication skills, display the hallmarks of self-determination, exhibit characteristics of bold leadership and have a history of service to others.

The winners will use their experiences to motivate other under-represented students to pursue opportunities to study abroad. 

Of the 332,727 US college students who studied abroad in 2017, less than 30% were students of color — 0.4% American Indian/Alaskan Native, 4.3% multiracial, 6.1% African American, 8.2%Asian/Pacific Islander and 10% Hispanic Americans, according to data from the Institute of International Education.  The data shows that students of color largely miss out on international education experiences that can play a critical role in their personal growth, as well as academic and career success.

The Frederick Douglass Fellowship, which launched in 2017, is representative of efforts by CIEE and CMSI to increase diversity in study abroad by breaking down the barriers of cost, curriculum, and culture that prevent students from participating in international education experiences. Named for the African American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and international statesman Frederick Douglass, the Fellowship encourages students to use his life as a model to becoming bold, globally conscious and service-oriented leaders.

“The students selected for the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship are ten exemplary student leaders who demonstrate the iconic leadership, keen intellect, and natural change-agent attributes of Frederick Douglass,” said James P. Pellow, President and CEO of CIEE. “These students will be the next generation of leaders and I know that the intercultural competence and global perspective they will gain during the London program will benefit them throughout their lives.”