Civic-minded student chosen for a one-year scholarship

Combining his passion for medicine, creative writing and social change, junior Fabrizio Darby has been recognized for his contribution to the creation of Answer Campus – an interactive situation-based game that allows users to engage in complex conversations on identity – and was chosen as the Newman Civic Fellow for 2022-2023.

Fabrizio Darby may not be considered the loudest leader. Frankly, he often finds himself stuck in the corner of a room, writing poetry and thinking of ways to make a quiet but profound impact on his community.

From humble beginnings, Darby began to use her dedication to innovation and compassion to work to improve access to quality education, community well-being, and social justice. So when he arrived at the University of Miami in 2019, he decided to use his background in medicine, combined with a passion for creative writing and poetry, to bring about change in his community.

Along with a team of student writers and designers from the New Experience Research and Design Lab (NERDLab), a student-faculty cooperative that designs and develops social impact games and apps, Darby spearheaded the creation of Answer Campus. It is an interactive, situation-based game that allows users to engage in complex conversations about race and other topics through scenario-based interactions. As a writer, Darby organizes the scenarios for the game.

“Understanding the importance of having meaningful yet stimulating conversations about identities, Fabrizio, along with other university stakeholders, helped develop an interactive dialogue-based game, Answer Campus,” the president wrote. Julio Frenk in nominating Darby for the scholarship. “Through these and other experiences, Fabrizio has shown his dedication to using innovation and compassion to improve access to quality education, well-being, and social justice.”

As a result of his efforts to lead the NERDLab team and create Answer Campus, Darby was named a 2022-2023 Newman Civic Fellow, a national fellowship that recognizes and supports community-engaged students who are changemakers and problem solvers. public issues.

On April 12, he was recognized at the Butler Center’s annual Celebration of Involvement Awards as this year’s Newman Civic Fellow and a recipient of the Sherwood Weiser Memorial Fund for Student Community Service, presented to students who demonstrate a combination of character and compassion with a strong commitment to community service.

And it all started early in his studies, when Darby bumped into Clay Ewing, associate professor in the School of Communication and director of NERDLab, and Jaswinder Bolina, associate professor of creative writing.

Ewing, who resided at Pearson Residential College as a senior residential faculty member, met Darby, who worked at the boarding school as a freshman fellow – a role in which Darby mentored freshmen on campus – Ewing suggested he consider a role as a writer on his team at NERDLab.

“As a teacher, it’s like a role reversal of this process of selecting teams to play a sport. You see this kind of student, and in your head, you say to yourself: “Choose me! We can do some cool stuff, I swear!’ “, Ewing said. “I feel incredibly lucky to have been chosen by students like Fabrizio. interactive writing and speaking eloquently about the project with confidence in its direction. It’s very rewarding,” he added.

When Darby began his role as a writer on Ewing’s NERDLab team, the professor showed him a sample of a game. The “Living Jim Crow” focused on simulating the experience of a baseball player in the 1940s living through segregated baseball leagues.

“It made me wonder why we’re focusing on Jim Crow when there are issues of identity and race that need to be resolved,” Darby recalled.

Answer Campus, still in its infancy, takes users through complex, real-life situations involving race and identity. Game players can explore these scenarios anonymously in a simulated world, allowing users to engage in difficult conversations about race in the game’s safe space. Darby’s own experiences inspired some of the scenarios used in the game .

“No matter how good you try to be, I think we can all be bad guys in someone else’s story,” Darby noted. “What’s important is being able to have those tough conversations and understanding what changes can be made. That’s the whole premise of this game.”

In addition to his work at NERDLab, Darby regularly engages with his community through volunteer and mentorship opportunities. As coordinator of the IMPACT Leadership Retreat through the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, he organizes programs to foster leadership among freshmen. And as an executive council member of National Gandhi Day of Service, the largest day of service on campus, Darby works alongside his peers to coordinate volunteer opportunities for students in the community.

“I feel like there are many ways to heal people. There are many things I want to do in life. And, although medicine is my main path, it’s not my only way,” Darby said. “The way I see medicine also provides me with a platform to write and continue to do my advocacy work,” he added.

“Fabrizio is an incredible student leader who leads by example. It’s obvious he’s passionate about his community and wants to make a real difference in the world and positively impact others,” said Andrew Weimer, director of the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, who met with Darby during his first year as a student at the University. “Fabrizio sincerely invests his body and soul in all of his engagements and is fully committed to their success and growth. This young man truly cherishes others and has already left a lasting legacy on the University of Miami campus.

Despite his many accolades and accomplishments, Darby noted that it took the support of his family and community to get him to where he is today.

Growing up in Portmore, Jamaica, Darby spent her youth watching and being inspired by her grandfather, a famous racehorse trainer, and his dedicated work ethic and gentle approach to caring for animals.

“He always taught me to treat horses like you treat a human. If you treated them the way you would like to be treated, they would win for you,’ said Darby, a biology and health sciences student. “That philosophy translated into the way he interacted with everyone. By being kind to people and supporting them, you’ll never know the impact your kindness will have on them. He taught me how to always leave a situation knowing that you were a good person.

Now he remains focused on his role as a mentor and advocate in the community.

“I firmly believe that no man is an island. We have to lift as we climb. Why work hard and not raise the next generation to reap these benefits with you?” he said. “It takes a village to achieve things. For me, it took several villages. I just try to be part of other people’s villages too.

About Mark A. Tomlin

Check Also

UMass Amherst Receives Second Prize in NSF Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenge: UMass Amherst

For its efforts to support faculty during the pandemic, UMass Amherst received second place in …