CCDI Junior Fellow Spotlight: Roger Davis, Jr.

This blog post is the first in a series that features the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI) Junior Fellows from the Library’s 2022 Junior Fellows program. These posts highlight each fellow and the projects they developed. CCDI funded six interns in this year’s virtual 10-week program. CCDI is part of the Library’s Mellon-funded Of the People: Widening the Path initiative. This four-year program provides grants to individuals, organizations and institutions to create projects using the Library’s digital collections and that center one or more of the following groups: Black, Indigenous, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other communities of color. Learn more about CCDI here.

This summer, CCDI’s Junior Fellows used a range of Library collection materials and multimedia to develop narratives and explore concepts relating to the experiences of Persians, Japanese Americans, African Americans, and Mexican Americans. With the support of Library staff, each Fellow visualized their research in a Story Map, which was published by the Library.

In this interview post, Roger Davis, Jr., a 2022 CCDI Junior Fellow, shares his research interests, his experience exploring the Library’s collections, and his project, “Increasing Access and Opportunity: An Exploration of African American Higher Education Experiences in the South.”

A photo of Roger Davis, Jr., a 2022 CCDI Jr Fellow.

Roger Davis, Jr. was a 2022 CCDI Jr Fellow. [Photo by Thomas Graning]

Tell us a little bit about your background. What led you to apply for a Library of Congress Junior Fellows internship?

I’m a Ph.D. student at the University of Mississippi studying higher education. I previously earned a master’s in educational leadership with a focus in student affairs and higher education from Mississippi State University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with a science concentration from the same institution. I knew I wanted to submit an application as soon as I saw the email notice for the Library of Congress’s Junior Fellows Program. I looked for a chance to improve my study and research techniques while also learning the best methods for finding and using reliable information and resources. Additionally, I saw the chance as an opportunity to network and gain more knowledge of the Library and its staff.

What project did you work on this summer?

Using my higher education background and resources from the Library of Congress, I created a Story Map titled “Increasing Access and Opportunity: An Exploration of African American Higher Education Experiences in the South.” The advancement of access to higher education and the challenges of integrating higher education institutions in the South are depicted in this Story Map. I examined the oral histories of African American activists who had an impact on the freedom struggle, particularly in the realm of higher learning.

I hope that this project will raise awareness of the resources the Library of Congress has available in this field of study and encourage scholars and researchers to think critically about all the factors that have influenced American higher education.

What was your experience like in terms of exploring the Library’s materials? What was the most interesting item or collection you’ve found?

Due to the huge amount of digital collections and tools that the Library of Congress has to offer, exploring the Library’s materials has been a gratifying experience. The Library provides materials to support personal and scholarly interests, films, digital exhibitions, and much more, whether you are a local user or a remote one. The African American History Online: A Resource Guide was the most intriguing compilation I found. This reference manual offered a wealth of knowledge on the Civil Rights Movement and contains oral history interviews with participants who had a significant impact on the freedom struggle. The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 enabled the creation of the Civil Rights History Project digital collection, which was launched in 2010 by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

How does the work you’ve done connect with your career goals?

I want to study social justice and conduct research in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in higher education. I would like to contribute positively and meaningfully to higher education, whether that be with a university or a government agency, as many people have done over time. I was in a wonderful position for this internship because I could work directly on a project involving higher education.

For your internship, you worked with the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI), which is part of the Of The People program. What does this program mean to you? What did you enjoy about working with the CCDI initiative?

The Of the People: Widening the Path program “seeks to add and amplify the stories of people whose voices have traditionally been minimized through programs supporting innovative exploration and engagement with Library collections,” and I think that it is doing just that. It benefits both the students and the Library of Congress to increase opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students through the Junior Fellows Program. With their particular fields of study and research, students provide a wealth of knowledge, and the Library brings ready-to-explore collection items from around the world.

Experience-wise, working with CCDI has been incredible. In guiding Junior Fellows through the Library and locating materials pertinent to our research, the CCDI staff have been outstanding. A highlight of this experience was getting to know the CCDI grantees and Advisory Board members because they all contribute a wealth of knowledge that will help the Library increase access and opportunities for its patrons.

For more information on Roger’s project, check out his Display Day project video here.

Interested in learning more about the CCDI Junior Fellows’ work? Visit the Library’s Story Maps page to view Story Maps created by this year’s Fellows and Library staff. To hear the Junior Fellows share about their projects in their own words, visit the 2022 Junior Fellow Display Day page.

Apply for a 2023 Junior Fellows Summer Internship

You can also work with CCDI as a Junior Fellow!

The Junior Fellows Program is an annual summer internship program for currently enrolled or recently graduated undergraduate or graduate students. Fellows have the opportunity to explore the Library of Congress’ digital and analog collections, while working directly with Library staff across the institution in a variety of fields, including: information technology, reference, preservation, and more.

Subscribe to the Of the People blog to be notified about the open application period for the 2023 Junior Fellows Summer Internship program. Stay tuned for more details on 2023 CCDI Junior Fellow activities!

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