Kameron Dunbar, a sophomore politics major, has been selected for the Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows Program.
The Mount Vernon fellowship is a highly selective, six-week summer institute for rising college juniors that offers unparalleled learning and networking opportunities at the estate of George and Martha Washington. Throughout the program, fellows advance an actionable cause with a capstone project, develop leadership skills, build a professional network with mentors and peers across the nation, and connect with successful Washington, D.C. leaders and decision makers.
For his capstone, Dunbar is examining access for minority and marginalized groups in college writing centers. He says the project began to crystallize in fall 2016, when he took Professor Laurie McMillin's “Teaching and Tutoring Writing Across the Disciplines” course. It was in that course that he developed a passion for writing, but also a keen sense of the struggles that students from marginalized communities face as they begin writing at the collegiate level.
“As a result of this discovery, I worked with a partner last semester on a final project titled Decolonizing the Writing Center: Creating an Accessible and Liberating Space for Students of Color (and All Students). It focused on examining and deconstructing practices in composition education that reinforced supremacist attitudes and absolutes in the academy.”
Dunbar says his summer research will delve into three areas: how contemporary composition pedagogy can disadvantage certain student populations; how the writing center can better service and educate students from marginalized backgrounds; and how the writing center can work with faculty to understand and mitigate some of the struggles students may have with writing in their classrooms.
Dunbar notes that Oberlin’s rhetoric department and the writing center have worked within their means to be as accessible as possible. “I'm happy to be able to lend myself to this cause and take up this issue, not because no one else cares, but because this fellowship will give me the opportunity to do so at a deeper level. I hope that some of my work on this capstone can directly benefit the writing center at Oberlin and somehow the greater community as a whole.”
Dunbar is looking forward to becoming better acquainted with the D.C. metro area and visiting the White House and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. He’s particularly interested in the leadership component of the fellowship.
After Oberlin, he plans to pursue graduate study in public policy and possibly law, building toward a career in public service.
“Leadership is something that comes up often—in applications, job interviews, etc.—and it's an area I feel that I could always improve in. The fellowships arranges meetings and activities with an array of leaders from around the country, and I'm excited to learn from their personal experiences and testimony in hopes of developing myself as a future leader.”
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