Jerrice Donelson, Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC), has been selected for the 2022 King-Chavez-Parks (KCP) Future Faculty Fellowship.
Created in 1986 by the Michigan Legislature, the King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship program aims to increase the pool of academically or economically disadvantaged candidates pursuing faculty teaching careers in postsecondary education. The award includes a $35,000 stipend for a one-year period while researching, teaching, and serving within the recipient’s department.
“I am beyond honored to have been selected to represent my community, my family, and my students as a KCP Fellow,” said Donelson, who will complete her Ph.D. this spring. “I was aware of the prestige this fellowship carries as a student on my previous campuses as well as professors and mentors who also were fellows who spoke highly of KCP. Having my name in line with the fellowship names and legacies whose agency, sacrifice, and advocacy made my journey possible is an absolute privilege.”
“I am beyond honored to have been selected to represent my community, my family, and my students as a KCP Fellow…Having my name in line with the fellowship names and legacies whose agency, sacrifice, and advocacy made my journey possible is an absolute privilege.”Jerrice Donelson, Ph.D Candidate
Excited to begin her work under the KCP fellowship, Donelson credited WRAC leadership for support and resources, graduate students and writing center staff for welcoming her to the department and writing students for inspiring her to pursue her degree.
“Jerrice brings amazing energy and inspiration to her work,” said William Hart-Davidson, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, Graduate Faculty, and mentor to Donelson. “She really wants to see the institutions she works with transform for the better and is using her research knowledge and experience to make that happen. I cannot help feeling similarly energized when I talk to her. She’s the kind of scholar who gets everyone excited about doing good work that has a real impact on the world.”
Finding a Home in WRAC
In the first year of her doctoral program, Donelson focused on Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy. Those interests stemmed from her undergraduate experiences tutoring dual enrollment students.
“Witnessing high school students’ experiences with writing at the college level piqued my interest to research this phenomenon further as it later became the subject of my master thesis,” Donelson said. “I observed students struggle with managing the hybridity of their writerly and student identities, which are tied to two different and somewhat misaligned academic environments.”
While completing her Master’s degree, Donelson became interested in the way literacy and pedagogy can be used as tools in the writing classroom to contribute to diverse student experiences — specifically BIPOC Dual Enrollment students.
“It was my interest in pursuing postgraduate research where I stumbled upon WRAC as a graduate researcher researching programs in writing studies and learned of the imminent work the program does and contributes to the field and discipline of composition,” Donelson said.
Striving for More Inclusive Writing Departments
“Jerrice’s research is all about helping universities and specifically their writing programs evolve to be more inclusive and more oriented toward student success,” Hart-Davidson said. “And I’m thrilled Jerrice will continue her work under the KCP fellowship. She has dedicated her professional life — both before and since coming to graduate school — to pursuing opportunities that make others’ paths to learning possible.”
In addition to being an instructor and researcher within WRAC, Donelson engages in community work by tutoring Detroit secondary students in writing and preparing for college through her nonprofit organization, Scribe Tribe Writing Tutors.
“Not only will being a KCP Fellow support my future faculty goals as a Black woman entering academia, this fellowship will also allow me to continue my work with the Detroit community, which is important to me and my passions as a whole,” Donelson said. “Teaching is also an important part of my identity as a lifelong learner and equity in education advocate. As a future faculty of color, I will be able to continue to encourage students to see value in the ways they consume and produce literacy outside the classroom having an even greater value within the classroom. I believe my goal as a teacher is to help all students see the value in their lived experiences and perspectives as value-added.”
“Jerrice’s research is all about helping universities and specifically their writing programs evolve to be more inclusive and more oriented toward student success. And I’m thrilled Jerrice will continue her work under the KCP fellowship.”William Hart-Davidson, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education
Donelson hopes her fellowship will serve as a beacon of hope for other BIPOC and underrepresented writers and academics.
“As a high school dropout and GED recipient, the idea of pursuing a Ph.D. was not exactly on the life GPS,” Donelson said. “Yet it was seeing the needs of the students I served that fueled my desire to possibly become a resource in the places where actual examples for BIPOC students are minimal. I hope to spend the remainder of my Ph.D. program completing my requirements while spearheading a new journey as faculty and scholar.”