AU Ambassadors

Student Life at American University

A Look into the Frederick Douglass Scholars Program

April 18, 2016|Posted in: On Campus

Anthony Fernandez is a freshman majoring in public relations and strategic communications with a minor in public policy from Lincoln, California. He was accepted to the highly competitive Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program, and as a result, has had the opportunity to travel to Cuba and meet many public figures from under-served communities. 

There certain opportunities in life that you assume could never possibly come your way, and getting a full scholarship to college is most definitely one of them for me. As I applied for the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program (FDDS) here at AU, I very much had that mentality. Tremendous opportunities like those provided by FDDS happened to other people, not me. When I came to DC for an interview, and soon after got a call offering me this scholarship I practically screamed.  This scholarship, this amazing program and all of the wonderful people in it, was being offered to me; not someone else.

For a little bit of background: FDDS is a merit-based, social justice-centric, scholarship program. Those of us in the program are committed to the improvement of under-served and under-resourced communities. Based on these criteria, I was immediately able to bond with the other students in my cohort, as well as in other classes and alumni. Having this support system right off the bat upon entering college helped to make my transition and acclimation to college life much smoother and enjoyable. Also, I was able to make some amazing friends.

Freshmen and sophomore FDDS students at the Josè Martí Memorial in Cuba.

Freshmen and sophomore FDDS students at the Josè Martí Memorial in Cuba.

Additionally, being in FDDS has allowed me to have some extraordinary opportunities. As an introduction to the program, and as a way to bond with our sophomore mentors, we had the opportunity to travel to Cuba to learn about issues of race and class, as well as about Cuban history and culture. This was an amazing time that I would not trade for the world. This really allowed for me to create some amazing friendships before even getting to AU. We were also able to speak with Rosa Rios, the Treasurer of the United States, about her path and our thoughts on the selection for the new face of the ten-dollar bill, as well as Cecilia Munoz, the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, about what she does in her position and any questions we had about her life or developments in domestic policy.

FDDS students with Rosa Rios, the Treasurer of the United States.

FDDS students with Rosa Rios, the Treasurer of the United States.

All in all, the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program has been an absolute blessing in my life. Not only have I been able to meet some amazing people, not only here at AU but out in the world as well, I have also been able to truly create a home here at AU; this is something that I will be forever grateful for.

To learn more about Anthony and the rest of the Ambassadors, click here.

Posted by Amelia Crabtree

Cacti, cows, and science lover