Sophomore Qiddist Hammerly Named Presidential Fellow

Sophomore Qiddist Hammerly Named Presidential Fellow

Qiddist Hammerly

In recognition of her leadership and interest in public policy, SESP sophomore Qiddist Hammerly was selected as a Presidential Fellow with the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress. This fellowship program in Washington, D.C., is intended to develop a new generation of national leaders committed to public service.

The yearlong fellowship offers 75 top students from leading U.S. colleges the opportunity to study the U.S. Presidency and the public policymaking process. Presidential Fellows travel to Washington twice a year to attend three-day conferences, and they explore a research topic on the Presidency or Congress.

“Recently, my classroom experiences and interactions with local policy makers and politicians have made me consider entering the field of government and politics,” she says. “While I am wary of such professions and the stress and corruption that often come with them, I also have a strong passion for making a systematic impact on social issues that are important to me.”

Hammerly applied for the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress (CSPC) fellowship because she believed it would provide an opportunity to learn more about how the federal government functions. “Looking ahead to my fellowship next year, I also hope that this experience may help clarify some of my career goals and help me understand where on the spectrum of governmental positions I best fit,” she explains.

As a social policy major, Hammerly is especially interested in issues of racial disparities in the U.S. education and criminal justice systems. For her research project at CSPC, she intends to investigate the role of the Presidency in criminal justice reform. “I will be comparing the rhetoric and policies of former President Reagan under the War on Drugs to President Obama's, with the hopes of understanding the trajectory of criminal justice reform and its impacts on racial minorities,” she says.

At Northwestern, Hammerly has worked as a research assistant with SESP professor Cynthia Coburn. “This has been my first experience with the world of research, and has opened my eyes to new possibilities for future projects,” she says. Her exposure to research this year helped her to win to a summer Undergraduate Research Grant to travel to Ethiopia and study local perceptions of foreign aid in food development programs. She is curious to learn more about how foreign aid can result in sustainable development.

As a leader, Hammerly has already accomplished such noteworthy goals as helping to open a charter school in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. She assisted a friend, who is also a mentor and former first-grade teacher, to start a charter school with the goal of eliminating the racial achievement gap. “The curriculum will have a focus on multicultural education and service learning, two issues that are particularly important to me. I am involved with this project because I believe we cannot wait a moment longer to provide all children with a high-quality education that honors each child's unique potential, and this school is working towards that goal,” she says.

“The school's mission also aligns with my goals of addressing racial disparities in education, and I am particularly invested in it because of my knowledge and experience in my hometown. I feel extremely blessed and excited to be a part of this project, and am looking forward to seeing it open this fall.” The school will have an early learning center, a family resource program and an elementary school.

At Northwestern, aside from her research activities, Hammerly is also on the board of For Members Only, the Black Student Alliance. In addition, she works at Lincolnwood Elementary School, where she teaches first grade students “who I love dearly,” she says.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/29/14