University of California - Santa Cruz, 2005
Isai Baltezar is from La Habra, California by way of Mexico. As of summer 2007, Isai works in the Outreach division of Advance!, a non-profit educational organization. During the fellowship, Isai worked in Trade Editorial. Isai fondly remembers the Fellows Summer Project in which the Fellows organized a forum addressing the need for diversity in children’s book publishing. That summer Isai was also fortunate to "help with the book release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and have fun at Harry Potter Place [Scholastic’s book release celebration].” Between departmental work, the summer project, and Harry Potter, Isai also learned how to “better receive constructive criticism," a skill he attributes to Program Director Karen Proctor’s mentorship and feedback. In addition, he credits the fellowship for his strengthened work ethic. Thus, he urges current and future Fellows to "work hard and learn as much as you can."
Spelman College, 2006
Three-time Fellow Cassandra Pelham worked in Cartwheel Books, Arthur A. Levine Books, and Paperback Reprints for the 2004, 2005, and 2006 summers, respectively. Now a full-time employee of Scholastic, Cassandra works as an Editorial Assistant under Anamika Bhatnagar and Sheila Keenan. Accustomed to individual work, Cassandra’s experiences as a Fellow taught her the true value of teamwork, a lasting lesson that has proven instrumental to her success in the workforce. Cassandra attributes her ability to network, tap resources, and build key relationships to the fellowship’s professional development curriculum. She urges Fellows to "seize opportunity, never burn bridges, always take notes, be open to constructive criticism, be confident, and own every decision you make." Read more about Cassandra by clicking here .
Smith College, 2006
Major(s): English & African American Studies
As of summer 2007, Ayoka Stewart lives in Oakland, California and works as an administrative assistant for College Works, Incorporated. As a Fellow, Ayoka worked in the Trade License Publishing Group. During her summer at Scholastic, she learned "the importance of vision" and began to consider "diversity as an encompassing idea that enriches the lives and minds of everyone…rather than just people of color." She praises the fellowship for meeting "us where we are and [providing] a small step to our growth." Ayoka feels that she grew in humility. She had "to realize that [she] was [in the program] to be pushed to [her] next level of development." Ayoka also gained a "sister and a friend" in her then roommate Deana Thornton. The two are now best friends, and their friendship has blossomed into a long-lasting, supportive bond. In the next five-to-10 years, Ayoka sees herself "attending graduate school, pursuing [her] Ph.D. and becoming a professor, writer, and artist." She urges current and future Fellows to "remain humble, stay open to receive knowledge," and finally, “be organized, motivated, and timely." She feels that "the best thing you can do for yourself as a Fellow is to understand that you are part of something greater than you."
Deana Thornton Howard