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U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

February Fellow of the Month

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Autumn Asher BlackDeer

February 2020 Fellow of the Month Profile Photo
Autumn Asher BlackDeer is a data scientist for social change. Her research is focused on the intersections of behavioral health and sexual violence in American Indian populations. She is a current doctoral fellow with the Council on Social Work Education and is in her third year of her doctoral program at Washington University in St. Louis.

Autumn was drawn to the MFP after being mentored by “several MFP alumni” who encouraged her to apply to broaden her network of professionals of color and begin surrounding herself with like-minded individuals. Upon becoming an MFP fellow, Autumn describes making “instantaneous connections to fellow scholars of color, which provided opportunities for collaboration and even peer mentorship.” She describes these relationships as “beneficial in framing [her] pathway” and continuously molding her into a better scholar.

Prior to joining the fellowship, Autumn envisioned herself in a tenure track faculty position. While she maintains that as her overall goal, she has also developed an interest in “culturally responsive mental health interventions for Indigenous communities” and hopes to one day build her “own mental health facility for Native healing and wellness.”

When reflecting on how the MFP mentorship has played a role in her career development, Autumn explained that “as an indigenous scholar, there are very few fellow Native scholars at a given institution, so the MFP mentorship…provided me with vital connections to fellow Indigenous MFP fellows and alum. Being able to learn from and alongside scholars who have lived experience navigating academia as an Indigenous person has been vital to my persistence and resilience throughout my doctoral studies and also help me to think of how I will mentor and support Native students when I am a faculty member.”

When asked what career building advice she would offer current MFP fellows, Autumn had this to share, “I would encourage current MFP fellows to be intentional with their connections and to craft a solid group of mentors, like a personal board of directors, each with varying skills and areas of expertise at an academic and personal level, that will ultimately contribute to the development of a well-rounded, culturally grounded scholar.” And for anyone who may be considering applying for the MFP, she encourages them to apply and says, “Having a network of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color scholars bolsters not only one’s academic endeavors but also provides a sense of collective understanding and fosters resiliency.”

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