Leader of D.C. Nonprofit to Receive Honorary Degree
from Rutgers University for SisterMentors Program
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, will award Dr. Shireen K. Lewis with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on May 13, 2012, in recognition of her work with SisterMentors, a program that mentors girls of color from low income families inspiring them to go to college and also helps women of color doctoral students to complete their dissertations and earn their doctorates.
Dr. Lewis, the Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. nonprofit, EduSeed, and founder of its SisterMentors program, will be honored at the University's Commencement exercises in New Brunswick, New Jersey, "to recognize [her] achievements and exemplary contributions to society" and to celebrate her "passionate commitment to higher education...in this fifteenth year of the founding" of SisterMentors.
Dr. Lewis' distinguished career includes almost 30 years of mentoring and coaching women and girls, dating back to her work as an educator in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago. As the founder of EduSeed's SisterMentors program, Dr. Lewis has helped 41 women of color to earn doctorates and 17 girls of color to get into college, including to Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland; and Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Many of the women graduates now serve in many roles in communities in the U.S. and abroad, including as leaders of nonprofits and professors at universities.
"The impetus for my work," says Dr. Lewis, "is my experience as a child attending the first school in my village in Trinidad and Tobago. It was there that I was mentored by a young woman teacher when I was 8 years old. That mentoring relationship profoundly changed my life and boosted my self-esteem to such an extent that I went on to excel in college, earn a law degree, and a Ph.D."
SisterMentors women and girls are African Americans, Latinas, Asian Americans and immigrants. The program's goals are mentoring, promoting education and transforming communities. SisterMentors mentors girls of color from low income families, inspiring girls to go to college and it promotes personal development. The program is unique: the girls are mentored by women of color doctoral students who SisterMentors helps to complete their dissertations and earn their doctorates. The girls are in elementary, middle and high school in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The women serve as role models --- women of color who have achieved academic success despite the odds.
"Dr. Shireen Lewis epitomizes SisterMentors' core value --- education to serve," said Montina Cole, Chair of EduSeed's Board of Directors. "We are so proud of her service to the women and girls of SisterMentors, and that Rutgers is recognizing her accomplishments."
Dr. Lewis earned her undergraduate degree at Rutgers' Douglass College. She earned a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and a doctorate in French from Duke University.
EduSeed is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information on EduSeed visit www.eduseed.org
. For more information on EduSeed's SisterMentors program visit www.sistermentors.org
Montina M. Cole, Chair
1666 K Street N.W., Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20006