#Snapshot: An Opportunity to Make a Difference

Welcome to another edition of #Snapshot, where we bring you a glimpse of what’s going on at Summer Search.

Fatou at the MPSA Conference

This is Summer Search New York City college student Fatoumata Sankare. Earlier this month, she had the opportunity to present her abstract called “Women In Islam: Reclaiming Their Religion” at the 76th annual Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) conference at the University of Chicago.

Fatoumata, or Fatou for short, is currently a sophomore at Howard University in Washington, DC studying Political Science, with a minor in Arabic. She credits her first summer program experience with Summer Search as a big influence for her interest in politics. “I was in Maine, sailing around with a bunch of people, and I was the only person of color,” she explained. “Whenever we’d talk about the world or politics, everyone had such different perspectives. I wanted to learn more about all of those points of view, and to understand my own perspective better as well.”

She put that same idea into practice with the proposal she submitted, after learning about the conference from one of her professors. Fatou submitted an abstract on her research addressing social and cultural misconceptions surrounding women in Islam, a perspective close to her heart as a Muslim woman herself.

When the MPSA conference excepted her submission, she began making preparations to attend. However, financial issues at Howard impacted Fatou’s ability to secure funds from her academic department to make the trip to Chicago as she was originally promised.

Fortunately, Summer Search was able to help. Our NYC College Success Program has funding and resources available for students to help them stay in college as well as support their ability to pursue professional enrichment opportunities. Fatou reached out to her mentor Easton Davis and was able to get the support she needed to attend the conference. As Easton put it, “I’m so thankful we are able to provide a financial gift to such a deserving student, and many other students in similar situations like hers.”

And Fatou had a great time! In addition to learning a lot and connecting with many other talented students, she stood out as the youngest presenter at the conference. “Most of the students were either seniors in college or already in graduate school,” she said. “When I would say that I was a sophomore, everyone was in awe!”

Fatou presenting at the MPSA ConferenceFatoumata Sankare discussing her abstract at the MPSA Conference.

She wasn’t just impressing fellow presenters. Many of the conference attendees were recruiters from various graduate programs at top institutions all over the country. Fatou says she wants to become either a lawyer or a policy maker after college and had been considering applying to law school. Thanks to the conversations she had in Chicago with these recruiters, it provided her with some clarity and direction for her next step towards her goal.

“After the conference, I changed my mind about law school,” Fatou explained. She now plans to apply to the University of Michigan where she can get both her Ph.D. and J.D. in Economics!

Oh, by the way, Fatou is also planning to travel to Ghana next month for an Alternative Summer Break. She hopes to bring African-centered children’s books, school supplies, and old laptops to donate to local Ghanaian schools. If anyone is interested in donating supplies or money to fund their book purchases, you can visit her GoFundMe page by May 10.

At Summer Search, we envision a world in which young people, regardless of circumstances, have the opportunity to fulfill their potential and lead their families and communities to thrive. We want to congratulate Fatou on following her passions and working so hard to do just that and make a difference. We can’t wait to see what you do next!

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