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Department of Modern Languages
The University of Mississippi

Deeneaus Polk – Alumnus Spotlight

Deeneaus Polk

Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow

Home Town: Pascagoula, MS
BA in German and International Studies (2011)

“I did not want to take German at all. In high school, everyone considered German to be a difficult and ‘ugly’ language. I believed them and tried to enroll in Spanish or French classes. They were full, so I was forced to take German. I’m eternally thankful for that. I was selected as a Congress-Bundestag Scholar and spent my junior year abroad. I fell in love with Germany.”

Dee Polk started college at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, weeks before Hurricane Katrina. He learned what it meant to serve others and gained such honors as Coca-Cola Scholar, Institute for International Public Policy Fellow, Jack Kent Cooke Scholar, and was elected International Vice-President of Phi Theta Kappa. After he transferred to UM, Polk joined the Men’s Glee, became a Croft Scholar with the Croft Institute for International Studies, and a Roosevelt Fellow with the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He studied abroad in Mainz, Germany.

After graduation he taught English in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar. “I came back to make an impact in Mississippi. I eventually became a policy analyst at the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. I then applied to the German Chancellor Fellowship program to research German workforce and vocational educational systems. I brought that knowledge back to Mississippi as the Director of the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program.”

Polk earned his Masters of Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School.  He was also a New World Social Innovation Fellow at Harvard for change-makers.

“While at the Harvard Kennedy School, I founded the Moderates Caucus, served as a Co-Chair of the German American Conference, and was also a panel manager during the Black Policy Conference. I was published in the Kennedy School Review, in co-authorship with my Brother, in chronicling his experiences in Mississippi’s prison system. I was named a Presidential Scholar by Harvard ‘based on public service and intellectual excellence.’ Lastly, I was selected for and have the distinct honor to serve as one of the 2020 Class Marshalls.”

Since then, Polk has been a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Berlin, Germany, where he focuses on better understanding of the business end of workforce development/training.