Cameryn Blackmore is on the go. She is probably traveling as you read this. As she sat down for her interview, she had just returned to Tuscaloosa from her hometown in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and would hop on a flight to Washington, D.C. soon after we finished. Born to lead, Cameryn received her PhD in political science from The University of Alabama in December 2021 and has already taken on Capitol Hill in D.C.
Confidence exudes from Cameryn as she discusses her new normal. She recently accepted a fellowship position with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation under the National Racial Equity Initiative Fellowship. “I have huge shoes to fill,” Cameryn mentioned. “This fellowship is named in the memory of Congressman John R. Lewis, who was essential to the civil rights movement.”
The first month of her fellowship involves working in U.S. Representative Marilyn Strickland’s office as a legislative assistant and will spend the second month doing research for the foundation. As she opened up about the fellowship, Cameryn said, “I love this opportunity because it gives me a chance to get exposed to policy, but also lets me maintain my identity as a scholar.”
This is just the second year for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to have this fellowship position, and they are relying on Cameryn and her peers to grow the program from within. The fellowship is heavily interested in connecting people with the foundation and ensuring the lives of black citizens are being elevated on the federal level. They plan to host events throughout the year and currently host a yearly summit that focuses on criminal justice, healthcare, economic development and education. “Next year, town hall meetings will be hosted across the country to have conversations about what needs to be addressed at the national level,” Cameryn said.
It makes sense that part of Cameryn’s new role is connecting people together. Her network is one of the biggest pieces of Cameryn’s story. Her ambition is infectious, and she seems to create a sphere of influence wherever she goes. “I tell all incoming grad students and I tell all undergrad students that are interested in grad school and even in their careers – build a community,” she said.
Cameryn began networking before she even officially stepped foot on campus. She visited The University of Alabama to see her sister, who was a student. On a whim, she stopped by the political science office and realized this was the place she wanted to be. She constantly credits the people around her for her success as well. Cameryn mentioned, “Always knowing that I had a support system that I could lean back on was very important in making sure that I matriculated through the process successfully.”
“Everyone thinks the university is so big, and it is, but the circles overlap so much so you can meet one person who’s connected to another person,” Cameryn said. “These people may help you fund your degree or may help you get onto a research project.”
Her circles led to an impressive resume during her tenure at the university. She was a member of the African American Graduate Student Association, a Southern Board of Education Scholar, on the Graduate Student Association Executive Board and a valuable member of the Tide Together program.
Cameryn finished with some advice. “Getting your PhD is hard no matter where you go because you’re making the transition from being a consumer of knowledge to being a producer of knowledge,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need because you’re full of pride and be the answer for someone when they need help.”
These two mantras have helped her establish an incredible network, and her impressive work ethic has vaulted her to where she is today. Cameryn is not sure what is next for her after her fellowship ends, but one thing is for sure – her next step will be remarkable.