Black Girl 44 announces 2021 recipients of scholarship created to reimagine politics

Exclusive: To expand their resources and network, theGrio is unveiling the 2021 list of Black Girl 44 scholars and their interests

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The Black Girl 44 Scholarship is the brainchild of former Obama White House alum Deesha Dyer. Through contributions from more than 130 Black women who worked in the Obama White House, Dyer provides financial support to young Black women with internships in the public service sector.

White House Social Secretary Deesha Dyer talks about the table settings for the dinner honoring Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is displayed for the news media in the State Dining Room at the White House March 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Dyer established the scholarship as part of an initiative to expose Black women to policy, community engagement, community service, advocacy, global relations and politics with the ultimate goal that the experience entices scholars to pursue careers in these fields. 

“When you hear the word politics, people get turned off,” Dyer explained. “So they’re like ‘politics is the Hill and the White House and the president.’ That’s how I thought for years, that I didn’t belong in politics and I don’t belong there. But that’s not necessarily all that it is. There’s a whole realm of politics and public service that we don’t talk about, that really is broad.” 

Through the Black Girl 44 Scholarship, Deesha hopes to redefine the “face of what politics looks like” and reimagine “what it means.” 

This summer, 10 girls from across the country will be the new faces of politics as they participate in the Black Girl 44 scholarship. Due to the pandemic, some scholars may be in a position to experience the public service field remotely. To expand their resources and network, theGrio is unveiling this list of the scholars and their interests. It takes a village, and during the pandemic, theGrio is committed to announcing programs like Black Girl 44 so the community can support our youth.

(Credit: Black Girl Scholarship 44)

Name: Araoluwa “Ara” Omotowa

Age: 21

Hometown: Idaho Falls, ID

College/University: Harvard College

Major/Minor: Government & African American Studies

Career Interest(s): Pursue a JD/MPP to be able to effectively advocate for low-income communities of color and help secure economic equity for underserved groups in the US.

Dream Job: Work in D.C. advocating for public policies that uplift historically disenfranchised communities and eventually contribute to the process of crafting legislation, focused on closing socioeconomic disparities through employing principles of reparative justice and equity.

Summer Internship Title/Internship Company: D.C. Office of Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Most excited about your internship: Getting to know the people that work for Senator Warren (as well as hearing stories about their work in the Senate and/or the campaign), and getting a real mastery of housing and economic policies that will help real people in low-income communities of color.


Name: Yssis Davis

Age: 25

Hometown: San Diego, CA

College/University: University of California Riverside

Major/Minor: Psychology (Major) & African American Studies (Minor)

Career Interest(s): Medicine, Psychiatry, Therapy, Community Outreach/Engagement, Research, etc.

Dream Job: Psychiatrist

Summer Internship Title/Internship Company: Inland Health Profession Coalition / Reach Out

Most excited about your internship: Working with younger students and community members and being able to encourage them to follow their dreams.


Name: Madison Long

Age: 18

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

College/University: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Major/Minor: Liberal Studies (Pre-Law)

Career Interest(s): To explore the American justice system, the entrepreneurial side of the legal system, public policy, and philanthropy.

Dream Job: Defense attorney at firm she owns in Charlotte, NC

Summer Internship Title/Internship Company: Judicial Extern for Judge John A. Houston.

Most excited about your internship: Enhancing my comprehension and writing skills, as I will be writing sentencing memoranda and summaries.


Name: Christina Williams

Age: 21

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

College/University: Clark Atlanta University

Major/Minor: Political Science

Career Interest(s): Attorney and use the law as a tool to advance racial/social justice, defend civil rights/liberties, and represent underserved communities.

Dream Job: Start as a civil rights attorney at a national civil rights advocacy organization and then eventually serve in the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice

Summer Internship Title/Internship Company: Voting Access Project intern at the ACLU of Georgia.

Most excited about your internship: Learning more about advocating for state & local government accountability and organizing to ensure fair and accessible elections for all Georgians.


Name: Amaya Ronczyk

Age: 21

Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas

College/University: Dillard University

Major/Minor: Urban Studies & Public Policy

Career Interest(s): Law and policy making

Dream Job: Start as trial attorney and then transition to working with death penalty cases and prison reform.

Summer Internship Title/Internship Company: Government Affairs Intern at In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda.

Most excited about your internship: Engaging directly with policymakers on Capitol Hill and also be voice for other Black women, who bear the brunt of poor reproductive policies erupting in America.


Name: Jessica Chamblin

Age: 20

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

College/University: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Major/Minor: Political Science (Major) & Spanish (Minor)

Career Interest(s): Lobbyist or Attorney

Dream Job: International Attorney

Summer Internship Title/Internship Company: Federal Aviation Association

Most excited about your internship: Exploring a new field and enacting positive change.


Name: Kristen Leslie

Age: 19

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

College/University: Howard University

Major/Minor: International Affairs (Major) & Political Science (Minor)

Career Interest(s): Obtain my Juris Doctor from law school and intersect my love for policy and law into a dream career.

Dream Job: Policy lawyer who litigates on behalf of different political organizations.

Summer Internship Title/Internship Company: National Democratic Redistricting Committee/Grassroots Advocacy Intern

Most excited about your internship: Working first-hand on projects aimed towards combating gerrymandering and bringing about change in our broken political system.


Name: Niya Banks

Age: 20

Hometown: Pompano Beach, FL

College/University: Spelman College

Major/Minor: Political Science (Major) & English (Minor)

Career Interest(s): Attorney serving the underserved communities

Dream Job: Run an organization centered around social justice initiatives that benefit marginalized communities.

Summer Internship Title/Internship Company: U.S. Department of Justice

Most excited about your internship: Working with communities across the nation helping to combat hate crimes and the many challenges that these communities face.


Name: Maya Logan

Age: 21

Hometown: Spartanburg, SC

College/University: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Major/Minor: Quantitative Biology and Public Policy (majors) & Chemistry (minor) 

Career Interest(s): Medical doctor and health policy analyst/correspondent

Dream Job: OBGYN with a subspecialty in pediatrics and adolescence, and possibly go on to work with CNN, the White House, or any governmental/communication entity to advance health and education policies related to Black women and girls.

Summer Internship Title/Internship Company: PPIA Junior Summer Institute

Most excited about your internship: Collaborating with policy officials to learn more about policy implementation, policy analysis, and community activism.


Name: Nephraterie Smith

Age: 20

Hometown: Aurora, CO

College/University: Howard University

Major/Minor: Spanish (Major) & Swahili (Minor)

Career Interest(s): Food sovereignty activist, community leader, and midwife.

Dream Job: To start a program for young girls to travel, connect, and develop their interests.

Summer Internship Title/Internship Company: Lincoln Hills Cares Pathways Program/Mo Betta Green

Most excited about your internship: Developing my knowledge of the farm to table movement as well as getting to work and engage with youth in my community.

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