RIT student receives study abroad fellowship that honors Frederick Douglass

ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) — Jahaad Shairi, a Rochester native and sophomore at the Rochester Institute of Technology, will travel to Ireland to study social justice and conflict resolution.

Shairi is one of 16 national recipients of the 2022 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship. The fellowship, open to students of color, funds a study abroad program focused on social justice to honor the legacy of the abolitionist. The government of Ireland, where all recipients will pursue their studies for four weeks, is also contributing funding.

While abroad, students will learn about Douglass’s leadership styles and his relationship in the 1840s with the Irish political leader Daniel O’Connell. They’ll also compare conflict resolution strategies implemented in Ireland, the Middle East, and South Africa.

Shairi, a Film and Animation Studies major, said that Douglass has been a lifelong inspiration, especially growing up in the city where Douglass lived.

“Having such a great person be from Rochester showed me that there’s no limit to what I can achieve,” he said. “What I admire most now in adulthood is his ability to rise out of the most unimaginable depths of despair despite the rigid systems working against him,”

The Frederick Douglass Scholars Program selected Shairi for his academic excellence, communication skills, and commitment to social justice. That includes leading a campus-wide effort to help students get access to Adobe design programs.

The fellowship is run by the Council on International Educational Exchange, a nonprofit that support study abroad and intercultural exchange. Shairi is the only Rochester area recipient of the fellowship.

“The 2022 cohort of Frederick Douglass Global Fellows is an extraordinary group of students, representing a rich diversity of backgrounds, universities, academic majors, and personal stories,” said the president of the nonprofit, James Pellow.