Center Spotlight: Saleshia Ellis

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Saleshia Ellis

Age: 20

Hometown: Fort Pierce, FL

Major: Interdisciplinary Social Science

Scholar, researcher, volunteer, leader.

Rising junior Saleshia Ellis embodies them all, and strives to do so much more.

Ellis is an avid participant in many center programs such as Service Scholars, the Social Justice Living Learning Community, PeaceJam and Youth Programs. She credits the programs for teaching her the power of empowering the people in the underprivileged communities that she works to help.

Learning about the social change model as a freshman in the Social Justice Living Learning Community taught Ellis the importance of cultural awareness.

“There were certain things I had to start thinking critically about in order to learn and unlearn certain beliefs I had,” she said, “while being aware of the contexts of my life and the content it was socializing in me.”

Ellis has found her niche at the center, where she also landed an internship with Associate Director Miguel Hernandez helping to plan community events and serving as an FSU ambassador to the broader community.

When Ellis arrived at Florida State as part of the 19th cohort of the Service Scholars program, she truly felt at home.

“It was a very open and friendly and very supportive environment,” she said.

Her mentor in the program, center Director Laura Osteen, has also played a huge role in her life.

“She has shown me a lot of the potential that I have within myself by teaching me how to use my past experiences as determination to make the world a better place and helping me figure out how I can effectively make change in this world,” said Ellis.

Ellis is also a part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, where she plans to present her research on #BlackGirlMagic, a project she has been working on with Joi Phillips, an assistant director with community-based initiatives at the center. Ellis’ research focuses on bringing light to all of the great work black women have accomplished.

This coming year Ellis looks forward to launching her #BlackGirlMagic network, not only at FSU, but also in the state of Florida as a whole.

Outside of conducting her research, Ellis actively tries to put herself in spaces where black girls lack representation, such as being a part of Student Government, and being an Orientation Leader.

“By being that first contact for those first-year students who are coming in– to give them an example of what a black woman looks like and what she does versus not looking at reality shows’ portrayals is very important to me,” Ellis said.

Other accolades Ellis hold include Seminole Torchbearer, member of the Garnet & Gold Key, Public Policy & International Affairs program fellow, C.A.R.E. ‘15 student, and the President’s Undergraduate Humanitarian of the Year award for the COllege of Social Sciences and Public Policy.

Off campus, Ellis is involved with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Palmer Munroe Teen Center, IMPACT America, and 50 Large, an organization that focuses on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

As part of the Urban & Regional Planning combined degree program, Ellis plans to attend graduate school to pursue her master’s degree then attend law school, to keep her promise to her deceased brother.

“I do believe that housing policies can play a major role in destructing low income communities,” she said.

Ellis hopes to go into housing and public policies to impact and empower people in underprivileged communities by helping to shed light on the skillsets that they may have as citizens.

—Fabuola Pierre