Corinne Bobb-Semple ’23 Wins Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship

Corinne Bobb-Semple

 Corinne Bobb-Semple ’23 is among the 2021 winners of the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, awarded to diverse student leaders to attend a four-week summer study abroad program in Ireland focused on leadership, intercultural communication and social justice.

Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs is a co-sponsor of the Frederick Douglass Global Fellows in Dublin, Ireland, to honor the 175th anniversary of the meeting between then 27-year-old abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the Irish reformer Daniel O’Connell in Dublin in 1845. 

During the program, Bobb-Semple will have the opportunity to tour Ireland, following the path of Frederick Douglass’ 1845 campaign for the abolition of slavery and his own freedom. She will meet with representatives from the Irish government including the Taoiseach as well as leaders from organizations in Ireland that advocate for social justice.

Bobb-Semple, a politics major from Brooklyn, New York, is one of 14 high-achieving diverse student leaders selected for this prestigious award. When she started at Pomona, she had a general interest in politics, she says.

“But classes with professors in the Politics Department like Susan McWilliams [Barndt] helped me hone in on the role culture plays in shaping American law and politics.”

Bobb-Semple says the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship presented a perfect opportunity to gain an understanding of this dynamic in a country with a different socio-historical context.

One dynamic she already understands well is the power of the pen.

“Frederick Douglass’ legacy is an example of the power an authoritative voice holds to describe and denounce unjust institutions. In his account of his journey to Ireland, Douglass’ voice comes alive as he writes about the possibility of solidarity among people facing different forms of subjugation.”

Bobb-Semple says she plans to produce written work inspired by Douglass’ voice and her experience studying abroad.

Her writing skills have been polished and prepped by working as a partner in the College’s Writing Center and by taking Professor Kara Wittman’s class on pedagogy. Now Bobb-Semple has transferred the skills she’s gained working with Pomona students on essay writing to support elementary and middle school students in New York. Since returning home during the pandemic, she has been teaching close reading and essay writing techniques online to young people in her community.

Her hope?

“That the students I work with are inspired by the books we read together, develop confidence in their writing, and realize that written analysis is one of many tools which can enact social change.”

The fellowship will build on a foundation that Bobb-Semple has already well-established. And the cornerstone trait is the same so clearly possessed by the abolitionist for whom the fellowship is named. 

“In addition to technical skills, writers also need courage to tell the stories they believe in. That courage comes from believing in yourself as an authority on a subject, idea, or point of view.”