College of Arts & Letters Leadership Fellows

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College of Arts & Letters Leadership Fellows

College of Arts & Letters Leadership Fellows

Leadership Fellows

  • 2017-2019: Elijah Simmons
  • 2019-2020: Rachel Robinson & Cameron Chase
  • 2020-2021: Sharieka Botex
  • 2021-2022: Philip Montgomery
  • 2021-2023: Hima Rawal


Elijah Simmons (2017-2019)
As the first College of Arts & Letters Leadership Fellow, Elijah Simmons sought to bring awareness to the Leadership Institute’s resources and gain an understanding of what more could be done to improve the graduate student experience within the College.

Rachel Robinson and Cameron Chase (2019-2020)
Rachel Robinson and Cameron Chase worked closely with the College of Arts and Letters’ leadership team to organize CAL Care Week, a week-long event focused on how Spartans can take care of themselves as well as make positive contributions to the MSU community. The planned events for the week included writing workshops, yoga sessions, and painting the Rock in an effort to promote positivity, self-awareness, and connectivity. Examples of workshops include “How to be a Caring Reviewer,” “Creating Academic Boundaries with Care,” and “Teaching to GenZ: Navigating Anxiety and Depression with Art in the Classroom.” Unfortunately, CAL Care Week was scheduled for late March 2020 and had to be canceled due to COVID-19. CAL Care Week was featured on the College of Arts and Letters’ website and in an MSUToday article.

Sharieka Botex (2020-2021) | Coordinator (2021-2023)
Sharieka Botex, a PhD student in Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures was informed by her interest in community-focused work and engaging in a way that took into account her experiences and the experiences and work of Black people on a local and national level. Her project, Shaping Society Through Scholarship and Action, which took place on September 25, 2021, featured Black women scholars whose work classifies them as community-engaged scholars and/or scholarly activists. The event gave them a platform to share their professional and academic journeys and to discuss those who informed and influenced their work on panels moderated by graduate students. It also provided a platform for community organizers and leaders to share their efforts and discuss how and why they view their work as essential. To accomplish the goal of providing stories, resources, and support to those interested in scholar activism, Sharieka hosted multiple panels to spotlight discussions about individuals’ experiences with academia and community work. Her work received the prestigious graduate student award for “exemplary community-engaged scholarship” from MSU’s University Outreach and Engagement (this write-up was adapted from an article written by Kara MacKenzie for the WRAC website).

Philip Montgomery (2021-2022) | Coordinator (2022-2023)
Philip started a peer mentoring program through a Graduate Student Organization in his graduate program pairing incoming graduate students with established students. The program aimed to increase a sense of belonging and connection from the very beginning of a student’s time in graduate school. With the support of faculty in his program and the Associate Dean of CAL, Philip launched a peer-mentoring scheme that paired incoming graduate students with a returning student in the program. He held several workshops for mentors and mentees to define mentoring, set common goals, and get pairs working together. His assessment determined that the mentor-mentee pairs were successful in sharing resources for meeting program requirements, brokering relationships with other students and faculty members, getting feedback on writing and practice presentations, and one pair even launched a collaborative research project. Philip is looking for ways to embed this program within the structure of his GSO in order to ensure its continuation.

Hima Rawal (2021-2023)
Hima worked with Social Sciences Fellow, Qi Huang, to address international students’ use of mental health services on campus. They hope to build bridges to increase access to and decrease stigma of mental health services. They collaborated with the Office of International Students & Scholars, Counseling and Psychiatric Services, the Trauma Services Training Network, and more to learn more about how these offices support international students. They also interviewed over a dozen international students to deepen their understanding of the concerns and barriers international students have concerning mental health. Using this data and their partnerships, Qi and Hima hope to create a Wellness Ambassador program where selected international students are trained to reach out to other international students to help them learn about mental health services on campus.

Posted by:
Megumi Moore The MSU Graduate Leadership Institute
#storytelling #graduate students #leadership