Inaugural Social Justice Ambassador Fellowship
The Social Justice Ambassadors program is a leadership development fellowship created through the Center for Diversity, Inclusion & Multicultural Affairs (CDIMA), and funded by PepsiCo, in which select students will participate to advocate for issues that impact historically marginalized identities. Students will gain opportunities to deepen their leadership skills, develop multicultural programs, and participate in combinations of workshops, retreats, and volunteer opportunities that aim to make differences on campus and in their local communities. SJAs will also be challenged to develop greater understanding of social (in)justice issues, and learn strategies that address social inequalities for historically marginalized people.
The inaugural cohort is made up of three UDC students, and will spend four to five months developing a project created to serve the UDC campus community and larger Washington, DC, area. Meet the fellows below:
Zahra Wardrick: (they/them) is a sophomore Liberal Studies major born and raised in Northwest DC. They are a queer, nonbinary, first-generation Sierra Leonean Black American poet interested in mental health advocacy centered on BIPOC communities. Having transitioned from a PWI to an HBCU, they are interested in comparing the impact of modern academia’s colonialism-based roots on education. In their free time, Zahra enjoys reading modern poetry and learning about sustainability as an avenue of Black self-care and restorative justice. Their project aims at lessening the social isolation faced by students due to Covid-19. Zahra will be creating a series of workshops, centered on creative themes that pair with social justice topics, and are instructed by local organizations and/or students. The goal is that by engaging in activities that students share passions for, they can bridge gaps of misunderstanding and inexperience with issues that they normally would gain from a campus environment. These workshops will be complemented by a newsletter containing recaps about their topics and activities, synopses, and contact information for the organizations or students facilitating them, and resources related to their topics available in the area.
Litzi Valdivia-Cazzol (she/her) is a senior majoring in Political Science at the University of the District of Columbia. Litzi works with a number of organizations such as the Supporting Hopeful Youth, Youth Action Board, Raise DC, and the Black Swan Academy, being a youth advocate. Litzi enjoys volunteering and engaging (virtually as well) with her community to create and propose solutions surrounding social justice issues. Litzi enjoys binge watching shows instead of waiting for weekly released shows in her free time and her project will focus on developing a resource guide for historically marginalized students to have access to resources and support to ensure they thrive both on- and off-campus.
Shabre West (she/her) is a Black lesbian woman. She is currently attending the University of the District of Columbia pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Shabre serves as the President of The Alliance Group (T.A.G). She is committed to changing the culture at UDC and creating a safe, culturally competent, and inclusive UDC for everyone, regardless of race, gender, identity, or sexual orientation. She serves as The Alliance Group (T.A.G) representative for the CDIMA Cultural Organization Council, as well as an Advocate for Youth’s Board of Directors Development Committee. Shabre is looking forward to continuing the shift in ensuring that UDC is an inclusive campus through developing LGBTQ+inclusive policy recommendations, and organizing students of all backgrounds. Her project will focus on the purpose of the LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, improving the University of the District of Columbia’s climate for LGBTQ+ students, staff, and faculty through education and advocacy for LGBTQ+ inclusive policies; to carry out activities and events designed to raise awareness about The Alliance Group (TAG) programs, and to generate support for the Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Affairs and in the community.