Christina Dupee grew up attending the college graduations of her uncles and mother, which set the bar high for her own education. Several years and three graduate degrees later, Dupee is writing the dissertation for her doctorate in educational leadership.
Dupee is one of six Roosevelt University students who won an $11,000 fellowship that aims to diversify faculty in Illinois.
The Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois (DFI) fellowship supports underrepresented students in Illinois graduate programs. The program’s goal is to increase the diversity of full-time, tenure-track faculty and staff at Illinois colleges and universities.
Three of this year’s DFI fellowship recipients participated in the McNair Scholars program at Roosevelt, a mentoring and research program for underrepresented students planning to pursue graduate degrees. Peggy Valdes, director of the McNair program, encouraged the award recipients to apply and worked closely with them on their applications.
Congratulations to this year’s DFI fellowship winners:
According to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, African American faculty make up 5%, and Latinx faculty 3%, of faculty at Illinois colleges and universities — a much lower percentage than the state’s students and population.
Dupee says that she can still count on one hand all of the African American professors she’s had. When she won the DFI fellowship, Dupee says she felt relieved, happy and accomplished.
“It is important for students to see people who look like them in positions of power and authority, so that they can better envision themselves in those positions,” she said.
Diverse faculties, according to Dupee, bring a broader range of perspectives and talents that strengthen an institution.
“A diverse faculty exposes students and their colleagues to different ways of thinking,” Dupee says. “Each faculty member's teaching methods are influenced by their lived experiences, knowledge and interactions with the world via their identities.”
In 2018, Roosevelt joined the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative (ILEA) to build on its historic commitment to equity and inclusion. The ILEA aims to eliminate achievement gaps in college degree completion for low-income, first-generation, Latinx and African American students in Illinois by 2025.