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Dickinson Posse Scholar Wins Prestigious Ubben Fellowship

cece ribordy

Cecilia “Cece” Ribordy '22 becomes second Dickinsonian since 2018 to win one of just five annual fellowships

Los Angeles Posse Scholar Cecilia “Cece” Ribordy '22 (Latin American, Latinx & Caribbean studies; environmental studies) was one of only five students nationwide to be named a Jeff Ubben Posse Fellow, an honor accompanied by a generous stipend and a prestigious summer internship.

Ribordy becomes the second Dickinson student since the Ubben was founded in 2016 to be honored with the fellowship, following Amara Anigbo ’20, a 2018 Ubben Fellow. While Anigbo met with and was mentored by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the pandemic prevented this year’s fellows from having an in-person experience. Instead, Ribordy was offered a wider range of luminaries to speak with, including Diane Swonk, the chief economist of Grant Thornton; Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck; Bob Pittman, CEO of iHeartMedia; Christine Squires, CEO of Americares; Ron Claiborne, journalist and correspondent with ABC News; Eun Yang, anchor of NBC News, Washington, D.C.; and Bob Herbert, an award-winning journalist and author.

But Ribordy says her favorite conversation was with Debbie Bial, founder of the Posse Foundation.

“As a Posse Scholar myself, it was really special to interview and learn more from her,” says Ribordy, who found inspiration in Bial’s story and her motivations for creating Posse. “Her dedication to starting and growing the Posse Foundation created this amazing opportunity for me to come to Dickinson and meet incredible people on campus, and her objective to build a national leadership network that reflects the diversity of the United States is a goal I deeply resonate with and hope to further as well in whatever profession I find myself in after college.”

Supported by a $1 million fund, the Ubben Fellowship is awarded to five college sophomores each year. And besides the stipend, the fellowship traditionally provides an internship with a leader in STEM, law and government, education and nonprofit, business and finance or arts, media and entertainment. With the internship this year replaced by a project comprising a series of one-on-one conversations, Ribordy says the experience didn’t come up short.

“Our Ubben project was centered on understanding and finding paths to achieve racial equity in the midst of a global pandemic, with a focus on learning how leaders from diverse fields were responding to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Andres Guardado,” she says. “It was definitely a very interesting time to be documenting information and people's perspectives during the summer. This pandemic has brought about very unique—and not so unique—challenges to everyone, and seeing how professionals from different fields were responding to these challenges was very insightful.”

Ribordy also says that the experience redefined how she views leaders and leadership and opened her eyes to how people we all encounter every day just might be the true leaders.

“All the people that I had interviewed fit the description of what leaders looked like in a traditional since, but in our conversations, we mostly talked about the lives of people who typically aren't celebrated as leaders: nurses, grocery workers, farmworkers and just everyday people who really make the extraordinary things we do as humans possible,” Ribordy says. “I think that is an important takeaway, because these workers are rarely ever celebrated or acknowledged for their hard work. As a response to this, I started working on a side project that elevated these voices, with a special focus on nurses—some of whom are in my family!”

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Published February 10, 2021