Ryan Javier, ’26, was selected as a 2023 Frederick Douglass Global Fellow. He is one of 12 students in the nation to be recognized for the fellowship.
According to the Council on International Educational Exchange, the fellowship selects students of color from U.S. universities based on their commitment to advancing world peace by building bridges between people with different viewpoints.
The program pays tribute to Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist who was influenced by his visit to Ireland over 175 years ago to advocate for positive change through nonviolent social and political efforts in the U.S.
Members of the program will travel to Washington, D.C., Cape Town, South Africa, and Dublin, Ireland, as part of a four-week program to conduct a comparative study on social justice leadership.
Kyndall Cox, director of the fellowship at the council, said it was easy to identify students who stood out when reviewing applications.
Javier was selected among a pool of more than 600 students. The application process had no interview phase, so Javier was selected solely on his application.
“You really have to stand out to have gotten through the selection process and overcome the tremendous odds of getting something like that,” said Bill Hunter, director of fellowship advising.
Cox said the council looks forward to having Javier as part of the program. He said he was dynamic and represented Lehigh well.
Javier served as the president of his high school’s Asian Student Union and is a Posse Scholar, due to his academic and leadership potential.
He now serves as the first-year representative for Lehigh’s Asian Culture Society and has worked on documentaries in San Francisco tackling anti-Asian hate.
Javier said he hopes his experience in these positions will help him be a leader on campus.
“I always say that when you know, you know,” Cox said. “Those students have very specific confidence and very specific knowledge around activism. They’ve already done things to create change in their communities in large and small ways and are looking for opportunities to learn more to grow.”
Javier said he is most looking forward to learning about the perspectives of the other 11 fellows.
He said the scholars undergo training on how to bring discussions around race and class to campus.
“It’s really important to understand the perspective of others,” Javier said. “I’m definitely hoping to find ways to bring back those takeaways to Lehigh.”
Brian Wasserman, study abroad advisor and program manager, said Lehigh’s Study Abroad Office provides students with information for scholarships, fellowships and other program opportunities as they become available. He said Javier has been engaged with the office, and the staff is happy to work with students like him.
Javier said he discovered the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship over winter break through an email from the Study Abroad Office and decided to apply.
Javier said he had to get a letter of recommendation and make a video. He spoke about how Frederick Douglass inspires him and what he thinks effective leadership looks like.
Wasserman said he is excited to see Javier’s accomplishments during his next three years at Lehigh, as he is “off to a great start.”
Hunter said he hopes to work with Javier throughout his career.
“He’s someone with a very bright future who has only just begun in the process,” Hunter said. “We consider him a very high-potential student. I can certainly understand why the Frederick Douglass committee saw such potential within him.”
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