"I feel like I’m doing exactly what I should be doing right now."
For Duchess Harris, Ph.D. (BF’09), then a tenured associate professor at Macalester College, a Bush Fellowship gave her support to pursue legal studies and earn her law degree. The former chair of the American studies department at Macalester, Harris is an author and scholar of contemporary African American history and political theory. She is currently on sabbatical, developing several books focusing on law enforcement and the United States’ prison system that are expected to be published in fall 2019, after which she will return to Macalester as the elected presiding officer of the faculty.
How has the Fellowship helped you get to where you are now?
The Fellowship gave me the ability to advance my education so I could do the things I wanted to do professionally. A perfect example is ABDO Publishing’s Duchess Harris Collection and how I’m able to write about the legal issues that are covered in them, and the line of books I’m helping to curate. Even though they’re written for 3rd to 12th graders, I’m actually using them to help enhance my curriculum at Macalester, and all of that happened because of the training I got at law school. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I should be doing right now.
How does the Fellowship continue to influence you?
It gave me a network of people I could grow with, professionally. The aspects I found to be most valuable from the entire process were the times when we all convened and had workshops together. It was just fantastic. One of the workshops focused on learning your individual leadership style and how to translate that into returning to where you were, which has been extremely helpful when it comes to communicating with the young people I work with at Macalester, and even coworkers.
Where do you find inspiration?
My three kids, who all learn differently. I talked about raising them when I applied for the Fellowship. I shared about when I found out my oldest son has nonverbal autism, and how that has been a profound learning experience.
What advice do you have for current and future Bush Fellows?
People often do not get it the first time they apply. That doesn’t matter! Just learn from the experience and apply again.