Serene Singh, a DPhil student at the University of Oxford, has been named the 2024-2025 recipient of the John Robert Lewis Fellowship, a distinction bestowed by the Washington-based nonprofit Faith and Politics Institute (FPI) to honour the legacy of the late civil rights leader and US Representative John Lewis from Georgia.
Singh, who serves as the Graduate President of the Sikh Society at Oxford and founded the Interfaith Alliance at Rhodes House, embodies the values of her Sikh faith, emphasising justice, empathy, and the pursuit of knowledge.
Her doctoral research delves into the experiences of women on death row in the US, aiming to highlight the injustices within the capital punishment and prison systems.
Singh shared that her commitment lies in leveraging her voice and research to enhance the US justice system and unveil the harsh truths about capital punishment and the prison system to a wider audience.
She said, “The story of John Robert Lewis and his efforts in civil rights, particularly his work with Dr Martin Luther King Jr., made an impression on me at a very young age. It was then I grasped the significant challenge and the critical need to elevate personal consciousness to a level of collective societal understanding.
“Being awarded this Fellowship holds immense significance for me now, but it resonates even deeper with the young girl who once vowed to follow the footsteps of the empathetic and courageous leaders who came long before.”
On January 31, the FPI announced its fourth cohort of John Robert Lewis Scholars & Fellows for 2024-2025, a group of student leaders and changemakers from 17 universities spanning 15 states, set to undertake a transformative educational journey.
The students will delve into the nonviolent philosophy of the late John Lewis, analysing it from a historical viewpoint while exploring its principles, strategies, and relevance to contemporary issues, a press release from FPI said.
The programme, led by Marisa Pryor, Director of Educational Programmes at the Institute, aims to cultivate future leaders through academic research, immersive experiences, and engagement with key figures in community leadership, activism, and legislation.
Pryor said, “As we grow our network of future leaders, these students bring a rich tapestry of unique perspectives and experiences to our programme and are poised to contribute to meaningful conversations, drive positive societal change in their communities, and cultivate lifelong relationships.”
The programme is designed to drive positive change in areas such as labour rights, housing, incarceration, health disparities, and more.
Cohort 4, selected for their diverse backgrounds and ideologies, reflects the programme’s commitment to fostering dialogue, empathy, and understanding among emerging leaders.
The FPI continues its mission to strengthen democracy through education and engagement, with this latest cohort embodying the promise of a new generation dedicated to justice and compassion in public service.