Become a leader for positive change with the Bezos Scholars Program.

Contributed by
SEAN ASHBURN
2009 Bezos Scholar
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Student Stories

Scholar Spotlight: 2009 Scholar Sean Ashburn

What are you up to right now? What projects and new ideas are exciting you personally, academically?
I’m currently working in undergrad admissions at Tufts University, where my role is focused on diversity recruitment and college access. My team and I lead programs and partnerships to increase representation of students of color, low-income students, first-generation students, LGBT students, and undocumented students on our campus. This year I began managing our partnership with QuestBridge, an organization that connects low-income students to highly selective colleges, and it’s been awesome to have a larger role in selecting and engaging with these bright, talented QuestBridge Scholars, some of whom have experiences that resonate with my own. I’ve also been excited by our efforts to incorporate more information about financial aid and affordability in our print and web communications. Outside of work, I’m a part-time graduate student in Tufts’ “Diversity and Inclusion Leadership” program, which focuses on building skills to better advocate for equitable practices within organizations. As I near the end of my degree, I’m beginning to consider topics for my culminating capstone project; I’m potentially interested in exploring white allyship among educators in high school and higher ed contexts. 

Have you been keeping in touch with your Bezos Scholar alumni, and if so — how?
Last fall I had the chance to catch up with a group of BSP alumni for lunch in Harvard Square, including some younger folks I’d never met before. Since then I’ve kept up with my pals Lucy Li and Jonathan Karp, both of whom are brilliant. And of course I follow my fellow 2009 Scholars on social media. Paul Tran’s Instagram is gorgeous. 

Which influential books, albums, podcasts, or films would you personally recommend to the BSP community of curious minds?
I see A LOT of movies. Some top recommendations from 2018 include A Simple Favor, We The Animals, Eighth Grade, and Boy Erased. I also loved the PBS documentary Dolores, featuring the life and labor activism of Dolores Huerta. I could also watch Love, Simon on endless repeat. 

Recent favorite reads include “This Will Be My Undoing” by Morgan Jerkins, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” by Sherman Alexie, and “There There” by Tommy Orange. My all-time fave is “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara, a powerful depiction of trauma, vulnerability, and male relationships. Read it.

Who or what are you finding inspiration in right now?
Native American and indigenous activists. I’m inspired by Native communities fighting for their right to political participation and representation and by the elections of Deb Haaland, Sharice Davids, Ruth Buffalo, Willie Grayeyes, and others. Here in Massachusetts, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is defending its sovereignty over its land trust, support for which has been withdrawn by the federal government following a lawsuit from a billionaire rival casino developer. The #StandWithMashpee movement and march on the Capitol in support of the Mashpee Reservation Reaffirmation Act embody the power of Native peoples, who continue to be owed justice.

Contributed by
SEAN ASHBURN
2009 Bezos Scholar
Categories
Student Stories