Shayonna Huley

May 15, 2023 - CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Political Science major Shayonna Huley is among 20 college students across the United States to be awarded the 2023 APSA Ralph Bunche Summer Institute (RBSI) fellowship.

At the end of May, Huley will travel to Duke University in North Carolina to participate in the five-week intensive summer program, which is co-sponsored by Duke University and the American Political Science Association (APSA).

“This is a competitive, highly thought of program for students likely to pursue graduate studies in Political Science,” said Dana Baker, who is Chair of Political Science and Global Studies.

With encouragement from Baker, Huley applied and was very surprised when her phone pinged one day when she was in class with the news that she had been chosen.

“At first I really didn’t believe it!” she said. “I’m not one to apply for these big fellowships on a national level, but I told myself, what the heck.”

Students in the program will take two courses for transferrable credit—one in quantitative analysis and one in race and American politics. The students will also be familiarized with the demands of graduate school, learn political science research methods, and participate in a graduate school recruitment fair.

Named in honor of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize winner and former APSA President, Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, the fellowship began in 1986 and was designed to create more diversity in the field of political science by preparing students from underrepresented populations for graduate school.

“I think the realm of political science really does lack those identities,” Huley said. “I have a family who has had to deal with legal matters, and it always shocked me how few lawyers there were who looked like us. Someone who can feel the prejudice in the room along with you.”

Huley, who is minoring in Business and Communication, plans to graduate in 2024 with plans to become an attorney herself. Having grown up in Bakersfield and as the first in her generation to attend a four-year university, she wasn’t sure how to pursue her career goals, but when she toured the CSUCI campus during high school, she knew she’d get the support and information she needed.

Sure enough, Huley came to Baker’s attention when Huley was a sophomore.

“She gave her first presentation for class on poetry and political science, and it was next level,” Baker said. “She works very closely with (Professor of History) Marie Francois and is a very active, engaged student. The other thing about her is she’s a sweetheart. She’s got an intense sense of curiosity and is super generous with her peers.”

Huley is nervous, but eager about the fellowship and the trip to the East Coast, where she’s never been.

“I’ve never really left the state,” Huley said. “I went to the Grand Canyon a few years ago, but my family is not big on traveling. I’m excited to see people from other parts of the U.S., from different cultures. Multiple different people coming from all over to see how they feel about everything - about politics.”

Baker and several other faculty members are thrilled to see a student like Huley on her way to a successful future, and they hope she blazes a trail for other CSUCI students.

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