Vaughan Awarded Newman Fellowship

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Shakera Vaughan (C'19) standing in Dahlgren Quadrangle
Shakera Vaughan (C’19) has been named a Newman Civic Fellow, which will grant her access to learning, networking and mentorship opportunities over the 2018-19 academic year. (Photo courtesy Shakera Vaughan)

March 19, 2018 — Shakera Vaughan (C’19) has received a 2018 Newman Civic Fellowship, a national program for students who demonstrate meaningful engagement with their communities.

The fellowship is awarded by Campus Compact, a nonprofit that encourages college students to be involved in civic life.

That’s a description that fits Vaughan well: The government major and sociology minor has volunteered in local schools, works in a church nursery, and has interned for Sen. Tim Kaine and at the offices of Barack and Michelle Obama.

Andria Wisler, Director of the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching, and Service, noticed Vaughan’s passion and civic-mindedness and encouraged the university to nominate her.

“Shakera is attentive to the needs of those she serves and is well known across Georgetown University for her capacity to create and strengthen community by building bridges of understanding through dialogue and shared reflection,” President John J. DeGioia wrote in her nomination citation.

Vaughan, a Richmond, Va. native, chose Georgetown largely due to the resources the university commits to helping students from all backgrounds thrive, like the Georgetown Scholarship Program and the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access.  

“Georgetown not only gave me the financial support to come here, but also gave me the resources to stay here,” she said. “I knew the opportunities in the nation’s capital were endless and I wanted to try and take advantage of what is supposed to be the ‘best four years of my life’”

Like many first-year students, Vaughan took some time to adjust to college life.

“I didn’t quite feel like I belonged,” she said. “I had experienced imposter syndrome.”

But before long, involvement in campus clubs — particularly GU Women of Color (GUWOC) — helped her feel more invested in her new home.

“I was given a strong sisterhood of such phenomenal and welcoming women,” Vaughan said. “Not only did I finally feel like I belonged, but I was a part of an organization who really set out to advocate for marginalized groups of people.”

Grounded by her new community, Vaughan flourished on the Hilltop. She joined the Gospel Choir and the Baker Scholars, one of Georgetown’s most prestigious undergraduate programs. She became vice president of GUWOC and helped organize the BRAVE Summit, which celebrates Black women and bring their voices to the forefront of conversations.

Vaughan took full advantage of the academic opportunities afforded her, enrolling in courses that helped her explore fascinating new ideas.

“One lesson that I quickly realized was that my professors have so much wisdom to offer in and outside the classroom, and all you had to do was talk to them,” she said. “Classes like ‘Education/Politics/Policymaking,’ taught by Douglas Reed, and ‘Public Housing: Theory and Practice,’ taught by Brian McCabe, have pushed me to think outside of my normal realm.”

Between classes and shifts at Vital Vittles or the student guard desk, the junior has found the time to volunteer at Center City Charter School’s Shaw campus, the Washington International School, and the Institute for College Preparation’s Kids2College program.

The Newman Fellowship provides its fellows with a full academic year of learning opportunities, networking events, and mentoring to help them achieve their community-based goals. Vaughan hopes it will help her to come up with more systemic solutions to societal problems she sees at the street level.

“I am hoping to brainstorm and develop strategic solutions to the problems I truly care about, like equity in educational resources and affordable housing for low-income people,” Vaughan said. “I hope to truly take what I learn from their trainings and resources and apply it to my career, which will most likely be dedicated to public service.”

— Patrick Curran