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LU's Edwards wins Douglass fellowship

LU's Edwards wins Douglass fellowship

November 10th, 2016 by Bob Watson in News

Brennan Edwards, sophomore at Lincoln University, poses Wednesday in front of Lincoln University's Libby C. Anthony Hall. Edwards was the recipient of the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, which will enable him to study in England.

Photo by Shelby Kardell /News Tribune.

Lincoln University sophomore Brennan Edwards will spend a month this coming summer studying in London, England, as one of 10 winners of a Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship.

Edwards, 20, from Indianapolis, is part of LU's Honors College and studying environmental engineering.

Kevin Thomas, director of LU's Academic Living Learning Communities and the Honors College, encouraged Edwards to apply for the Douglass fellowship, named after the 19th century man who escaped slavery and became a social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer and international statesman.

Edwards and nine other fellows will study for four weeks in London on a full scholarship covering travel and program costs. They were selected from nearly 200 applicants attending one of the nation's 600 "Minority Serving Institutions."

Among the requirements, each applicant had to submit a two-minute video and an 800-word written essay, emphasizing the importance of studying abroad, how such an experience could affect their personal goals and how they will share that experience with others.

Edwards said his video and essay emphasized his interest in environmental engineering, his desire to travel to China and his concerns about that nation's environmental issues.

"As a black man, that is very unique," he noted.

The Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship is a partnership between the Council for International Educational Exchange and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education's Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

One of the program's goals is to increase the number of African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American students choosing to study outside of the United States.

"In the essay, one of the things they asked me — one of the prompts — was how would minorities benefit from studying abroad," Edwards said. "I don't know how many people on campus have even considered studying abroad.

"So, this program is definitely a great way to shine the spotlight on people who are trying to study abroad, do big things or trying to be leaders."

He's looking forward to learning more about England and how their differences in terms of environmental lifestyles — "how Europe stays so clean compared with other places around the world."

Edwards' seventh-grade class travelled to China in 2010, and he generally liked that experience.

"There's nothing that can compare with travelling somewhere," he said. "I definitely would never have known what Missouri was like until I got here.

"It's the same kind of thing, travelling outside the country. You can explain until you're blue in the face about what a place feels like and what it might be but — unless you live it for awhile — it's kind of hard to determine how it might be."

On the China trip, he experienced a polluted environment and had trouble breathing in the constant smog. It flipped his interest from architecture to environmental engineering, helping develop ways for communities to be more friendly to the people who live in them and to the environment around them.

"If we didn't have environmental engineers, we wouldn't really know how what we're doing affects nature or the health conditions of everywhere else around us," Edwards explained. "It's thinking about the most efficient, sustainable way to manage whatever kind of city or town you're in.

"It's definitely focused on renewable energy and managing that."

Edwards first heard about Lincoln in an advertising brochure that came in the mail — then chose to come to LU on a presidential scholarship, for the opportunity to stay in the Midwest and attend a historically black college.

With the scholarship came a chance to be part of LU's Honors College, which began last year.

Edwards said his LU experience is a combination of a mainly African-American environment in the on-campus living and a very diverse life in the classrooms.

"I've grown up with diversity, of people from all over, from elementary school all the way through high school," he noted. "There is, definitely, strong integration here — and to me, it's a good thing.

"There's actions here to, actually, make people more comfortable with interacting with those outside of their own race."