Melody Dodoo ’21’s education and work have always been international in scope, ranging from Ghana to Amherst to Mauritius to Ecuador. Starting in August 2022, a Schwarzman Scholarship will take her to Beijing to earn a master’s degree in global affairs from Tsinghua University.

Melody Dodoo

Dodoo is one of 151 Schwarzman Scholars chosen this year out of nearly 3,000 applicants from 33 countries. She is the eighth Amherst graduate to win the scholarship since it was founded in 2015 to foster understanding of Chinese culture and business among future generations of global leaders. 

“From a young age, I have been immersed in international education,” Dodoo wrote when applying for the Schwarzman. “I was born in Silver Spring, Md., but was educated in Accra, Ghana. Most of my immediate family currently live in Ghana.”

Dodoo carried what she calls a “mission of global cooperation” to Amherst, where she majored in law, jurisprudence and social thought and ultimately wrote a senior thesis on women and sexual minorities in postcolonial Africa. She also earned a Five College International Relations Certificate. She held an internship at African Leadership University in Pamplemousses, Mauritius, in the summer of 2018 and studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador, in early 2020. Her dedication to community-building within Amherst’s African and Caribbean Students Union garnered her the Darienne Dac Madlada Heritage Award.

But Dodoo wrote—and the Amherst staff members who recommended her for the Schwarzman Scholarship agree—that she both broadened her global view and honed her leadership skills as an outreach coordinator and a summer intern in one of the College’s newly formed resource centers: “Working at the Center for International Student Engagement added the social perspective required to translate the theory I studied in classes into active programming for the Amherst community.” 

This programming included the International Student Pre-Orientation and the mental-health-focused International Interactions discussion series, which Dodoo co-facilitated with staff from the Counseling Center. “My goal when I joined the CISE was to make sure international students would have a voice, loud and distinct, in the Amherst student body,” she wrote in her Schwarzman application essay, which described her view from the podium as organizer and student speaker at the Be:Long International Student Graduation Ceremony in May.

“Through CISE programming, I learned more about women’s rights movements worldwide and the formidable women leading the charge for equity. Among these women were the influential and strategic leaders from ancient to modern China,” she told the Schwarzman judges. “Exploring women’s rights in China will allow me to learn directly from and with women who lead in specific cultural and legal contexts different from my own.” 

“It took a village to get to this stage,” says Dodoo of her scholarship application process. “So much gratitude goes out to Christine [Overstreet] in the fellowship office for the helpful practice and prep, the alumni who helped answer my nervous calls, the staff members who continue to mentor me through Amherst and beyond, the friends who stood by to help even in the 11th hour and the faculty who were always on call when I needed guidance.”

Throughout her Schwarzman year, Dodoo hopes to engage in thoughtful conversations with students, workers and leaders, and to “paint a more holistic picture of global policy, and how it reflects in local governmental legislation.” She adds, “I am also very excited to experience the cultural richness of China (especially the food!).”