"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character; that is the goal of true education."

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Fellow Profiles

MLK Fellows come from all backgrounds and have varied interests. They are focused on developing their leadership skills and giving back to the community.

Picture of black female student, Vennesa Duodu '19Vennesa Duodu ‘19 was born in Ghana, and she immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was two years old. She has been living in Worcester, Massachusetts since then. When she applied to Brandeis, the supplemental essays really sparked her interest in the school because they were centered around social justice issues which is something that has been near and dear to her heart for a very long time. When she came here for Admitted Students Day in 2015, she fell in love with the school, the environment and the people. Vennesa was impressed with all the resources and tools that Brandeis has to offer and to this day, she still is. Brandeis makes Vennesa feel like she can do anything and she knows that she has the support system to help her accomplish all of her goals. With that being said, she is currently pursuing a double major in Biology and HSSP while on the pre-health track.

Vennesa’s time so far at Brandeis has solidified her plans for becoming a pediatrician when she gets older. She has participated in Waltham Group’s T.A.P.S program as a volunteer freshman year and currently as a co-coordinator. She has also had the opportunity of traveling to Haiti with the Brandeis chapter of YourStory International during winter break 2016. That particular opportunity made Vennesa reconsider her option of going back home to Ghana to provide medical aid to mothers and their children and she is certain she wants to do a similar program in Ghana. Last Spring she studyied abroad in Ghana. After 18 years of being away, Vennesa was able to reconnect with her roots and explore many issues in the medical field plaguing many Ghanaians such as inadequate access to health care and the overwhelming stigma toward mental health. After graduation and medical school, she plans to return to Ghana and see if she can start a program similar to YSI.

In addition, Vennesa has been a part of some dance teams on campus. She was a part of Brandeis’ premiere majorette dance team, Toxic, for a semester. She has been a member of the African dance team Sankofa which seeks to promote music and dance from all over the African diaspora. Both teams have helped Vennesa enhance self-confidence as well as being a part of amazing sisterhoods. For the past three summers, she interned at the health center in Worcester in the Patient Accounts department where she helps bill patients (sorry!). Working to serve the minority community in Worcester has opened her eyes to the different kinds of people in the world and the various issues that they possess and that has strengthened her determination to help said populations after Brandeis.

Photo of white male student, Gabriel Sol Fontes '19Gabriel Sol Aronson Fontes '19 was raised by a Jewish mother and a Portuguese father in Western Massachusetts. Nurtured by a family of feminists, he chose Brandeis for our fantastic African and African American Studies department, hoping that he could build a more robust intersectional framework for his activism. Not only has Gabriel been able to learn more about Black Feminist organizing domestically, he has also been able to ground that learning in a global context, with courses from Professor Abdur-Rahman, Professor Faith Smith and Professor Carina Ray.
But activism cannot be a purely intellectual endeavor! Thankfully, there are many opportunities to put theory into action at Brandeis. Gabriel has been able to work with REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, a Waltham based organization that works with folks from all backgrounds, and the Brandeis Office of Prevention Services (OPS). At OPS he leads Bystander Trainings to help students recognize sexually inappropriate behavior, take responsibility for intervening and nurture the skills to intervene safely and effectively.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Fellowship is the gift that keeps on giving! It is so much more than simply a financial scholarship. Gabriel met two of his best friends during our Freshman MLK Fellowship retreat and they still hang out all the time! Furthermore, his advisors keep him in the loop about funding opportunities, conferences and professional development. For instance, one summer Gabriel lived in Brooklyn, working with a community organization to expand healthcare benefits for unemployed folks. The entire experience was fully funded by a grant through the Hiatt Career Center called the World of Work (WOW) Grant. His advisors from the MLK Fellowship notified him about the grant opportunity, nominated him and guided him through the application process.

Photo of female student.Genevieve Brown ’20 is a junior from California majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Legal Studies. She found out about Brandeis on a whim and wanted to have an adventure far from home. It turned out to be an excellent choice as Brandeis has been a way to meet amazing people as well as pursue opportunities that have a positive impact on others through promoting social justice.

Genevieve spends the first part of her year as an Orientation Leader. She acts as a resource to help new students with the transition to college. She also spends a lot of time as the Business Manager of her A cappella group, Up the Octave. She absolutely loves singing and its ability to impact people in a unique way. Additionally, Genevieve makes time to give back to the community as a Waltham Group’s TAPS program volunteer where she tutors and assists students in elementary school, especially English-learners.

After college, Genevieve might consider Law School or working as an Instructor because she is passionate about youth enrichment as well as civil rights and equality. Now, her immediate focus for the future is studying abroad in Lisbon, Portugal in Spring 2019. This opportunity will allow her to take in a new culture, continue her degree, and discover new career opportunities. The support and positive experiences shared by the MLK Fellowship community were factors that influenced her decision to study abroad.