College of Education Doctoral Student Dion Harry ’24PHD Receives Witherspoon Graduate Fellowship
Dion Harry ’24PHD, a doctoral student in the NC State College of Education’s Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development higher education program area of study, has been selected as one of seven graduate students to receive NC State’s Witherspoon Graduate Fellowship.
The fellowship was created to honor the accomplishments of Augustus M. Witherspoon, Ph.D., who was the second Black graduate student to receive a doctorate degree from NC State University and the first Black professor to work at NC State. He later served as an assistant dean, the associate dean of The Graduate School and associate provost of the Office of African American Affairs.
The Witherspoon Fellowship is awarded to students entering into the second year of graduate study in their degree program who have demonstrated experience in or a commitment to supporting Black communities within and beyond NC State’s campus.
“It’s a huge honor to be selected for this fellowship. Dr. Witherspoon has made a lasting impact on the experiences of Black students here at NC State. In my eyes, he’s a trailblazer and an inspiration for future scholars and professors, like myself,” Harry said. “As a current doctoral student striving to become a professor and someone who plans to use my platform to continue the work to dismantle the barriers impacting Black students in higher education, Dr. Witherspoon’s work and legacy on this campus are very inspirational.”
Before enrolling in the College of Education, Harry was an admissions counselor at Clemson University, where he worked primarily with students and school counselors at predominantly Black high schools in South Carolina to educate students about the college enrollment process. He also served as an academic advisor, which allowed him to participate in opportunities to support Black engineering students.
His research focuses on bringing attention to the experiences of the Black community in higher education, examining how anti-Blackness within these learning environments impacts the way Black students, faculty and staff learn, teach and engage on campus.
He has previously conducted and shared research focused on the experiences of Black graduate students, staff and faculty at predominantly white institutions and, since enrolling in the College of Education, has focused specifically on the experiences and wellbeing of Black students in STEM education, Black LGBTQ+ students and Black men at predominantly white institutions.
“I am a Black man that has a STEM educational background, identifies as a queer person and am currently moving up the trajectory to attain a degree and position that has very few people that look like me. These topics are personal to me,” Harry said. “While higher education has made some improvements over the years, there is still a lot of work to be done when recruiting, retaining and fostering supportive and inclusive learning environments for Black students, staff and faculty on campuses. I am excited to be part of that work.”