'Vision in Action' fellowships cultivate student ideas for social change
By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | March 19, 2015
Projects arise from unexpected moments and places. Shanice Kellman, a junior majoring in sociology and media studies, was inspired to apply for a 2014-2015 VIA Fellowship after observing her 6-year-old cousin playing with dolls.
“I kept hearing her say that her black doll wasn’t pretty,” Kellman recalls. “If she didn’t think her black doll was pretty, how did she feel about herself?”
The child’s words weighed on her. “As a black woman, the one-dimensional images we see in the media are always something I’ve been cognizant of and wanted to address,” she says. “Going into my project, I knew I wanted to do something to support a more diverse definition of beauty.”
Through VIA, she’s had the chance to do just that, working with Carlton Mackey, director of Emory’s Ethics and the Arts program, adjunct professor of African American studies, and curator of the multi-media project, “Beautiful in Every Shade” — an experience made richer by readings that have deepened her understanding of class, race and media.
“It couldn’t have been more perfect,” she says. “I had no confidence going into this and he offered me an emotional foundation.”
This spring, Kellman is preparing to launch her “Beautiful Flaws” campaign, a week-long multi-media event that emphasizes that “beauty can come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes.”
“My project is coming to life right now,” she says. “It’s been an amazing year.”