Class of 2018
Serenity Hughes, Africana Studies and Education Studies
Serenity Hughes in an Africana Studies major and Education Studies minor from the Southside of Chicago. From an early age, Black films and Hip Hop have been a staple in her life. She remembers watching Spike Lee’s School Daze and realizing that the film encouraged the Black community to discuss its obsession with colorism, while at the same time pushed them to acknowledge their homophobic sentiments. Jay Electronica and MF DOOM are Serenity’s two favorite rappers, but she also enjoys listening to Chief Keef and Future. The division of “backpack” rappers and “gangsta” rappers within the Hip Hop community intrigued Serenity, and inspired her to conduct research on Chicago’s Drill music scene. In her free time, she enjoys creating music, reading books by James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, and Audre Lorde, and biking around Wellesley’s campus.
Budnampet Ramanudom, Computer Science and Women’s and Gender Studies
Born in Thailand but raised in perpetually breezy Long Beach, California, Pet has always known how integral virtual spaces are to fostering connections between people thousands of miles away from each other. With her academic interests straddled between two relatively disparate disciplines, she hopes to be able to conduct research that merges the two -- connecting big data with people and communities. Estatic to be a part of the Mellon program, she looks forward to pursuing graduate work, eventually earning the title of "Professor". She has accepted the fact that "Professor Pet" may sound a tad silly, but revels in the alliteration (and hopes that her future students would consider her "cool" because of it).
Tory Roth, American Studies and Chemistry
Tory was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. Her research focuses on the formation of immigrant identity in the United States specifically within the Cuban American community. She is grateful to be a part of the MMUF program because it has allowed her to pursue her interests in academia.
Class of 2017
Genesis Barrios, Comparative Literature
Genesis Barrios is a Comparative Literature major with a concentration in Latin American literature. She is a first-semester senior who transferred from Miami-Dade College (a community college in her native city of Miami, Florida) before coming to Wellesley. She strives to perfect her mother tongue, Spanish, and listen to the voices of Latin American authors as well as that of U.S. Latinx authors. Her search for an understanding of identity from a racial, linguistic, and cultural lens has propelled her to research about the nature of code-switching (switching from one language to another) in literature and about the invisibility of the literature of indigenous communities, such as the Guatemalan Mayans, and that of Afro-Latinos. She is also interested in how literature can empower a community. Having been warmly welcomed to the Mellon Mays program despite not being a sophomore is something that she is greatly thankful for.
Class of 2016
Rachel Arrey, Religion and Political Science
Rachel is a Religion and Political Science double major from San Antonio, Texas. Her main areas of interest are Engaged Buddhism and multifaith work. She a representative on Multifaith Council and has studied abroad in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India.
Bernice Chan, Ethnic Studies
Bernice Chan is an Ethnic Studies Individual Major from Brooklyn, New York. They are passionate about being an activist scholar and strives to use research for social change. Their research interests include critical race theory, theorizing revolutionary activism, and the history of social movements. As a Fellow who strives to be a scholar in Ethnic Studies, they constantly ruminate about how to make academic research truly accessible to the public and research’s role in advancing social justice. Bernice also conducts research at the Wellesley Centers for Women with Dr. Linda Charmaraman investigating the impact of social media use and stereotyped media portrayals on young women of color. In the MMUF program, the other MMUF scholars and their dedication to tackling racial disparities and leading lives of change constantly inspire them. They are also grateful to have the opportunity to work closely with her mentor Kenzo Sung.
Cassandra Flores-Montaño, Women's and Gender Studies
The Mellon program has granted me access to a network of young scholars with a desire to conduct research. They, along with my mentor, Professor Irene Mata and Dr. Cameron have provided me with support and guidance as I learn about and engage with the research process. I love having the opportunity to research the rich history of political organizing in the Chican@ community. The research process has also familiarized me with the work and names of other Chican@ scholars. Being aware of their contributions makes me extremely excited to think about my future as an academic.
Christiana Joseph, Anthropology
I am surveying and interviewing students to learn more about the prevailing attitudes about mental health among current Wellesley College students. My research is meant to identify how Wellesley College students approach mental health and the idea of seeking mental health counseling and treatment with regard to the following cultural associations: ethnic and racial backgrounds and religious and spiritual traditions. I hope to work in academia in the anthropology department with a concentration on religious experiences in mental healthcare. I love that the Mellon program allows us the opportunity to conduct our own research and work as a cohort towards mutual goals.
Grace Park, American Studies and Political Science
Grace is an American Studies and Political Science double-major from Los Angeles, California. She is interested in studying racial politics and the political participation of minority communities in the United States. Grace is particularly interested in examining the after effects of the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 in Los Angeles City politics. She hopes her research will evolve into a fascinating senior thesis.
Claudia Yau, Philosophy
Tamar Davis, Sociology
Class of 2015
Michelle Al-Ferzly, Art History
Michelle Al-Ferzly is an Art History major from Beirut, Lebanon, by way of Detroit, MI, and Torino, Italy. Her research interests include Islamic Art and Architecture, particularly the presence of Islamic art in Europe and North America. This past summer, she had the privilege of interning at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC, a research institution with the goal of advancing knowledge of the Middle East and the broader region. Through the MMUF program, Michelle has been able to engage in individual research, allowing her to both hone in on her personal academic interests and cement her future plans to apply for a master's program in the fall of 2014.
Fiona Almeida, Anthropology
Fiona Almeida grew up in Durban South Africa and now lives in Cambridge Massachusetts. She is passionate about Global Healthcare, Education, and the intersection of Culture and Identity. This past summer Fiona spent time working with people of African descent (Siddis) in India. Her research was centered on Siddi women’s healthcare, education, and how they identify in their host country. She will continue her research this summer focusing on adaptation of Siddis in India and the migration of Indians to South Africa from India. Research to her is like a treasure box, there are always new findings.
Nicole Blansett, Sociology
Nicole is originally from San Diego, California. When she isn't longing for street tacos and sunnier skies you can find her researching surrogacy laws in Clapp. Her research interests can be broadly described as the study of women and families at the intersection of business, law, and society. During her time in the MMUF program she has specifically focused on human reproductive technologies. Her favorite part of the program has been the intense passion of the Wellesley fellows. She plans to take the GRE in the spring and is hoping to spend time living and working in Latin America before grad school.
Loren Cahill, Africana Studies
Loren is interested in studying the intersection between social action and youth identity. She is specifically interested in studying how urban minority youth communities come to understand race, power and privilege. She is also interested in how they use this knowledge to transform their communities. She is currently exploring these answers through an independent study, and hopes to develop her research into a documentary series.
Chanel Geter, Sociology and American Studies
Chanel Geter hails from Detroit, Michigan, but has lived all over the country. Her nuanced cultural experiences growing up have instilled within her an eternal interest in the evolution of the Black/African-American community. As an undergraduate, her research started in Sociology and has flowed into the fields of prison studies, Black representations in media, and Black cultural forms, including stand-up comedy.
Imani Higginson, Art History
Imani Higginson is a senior Art History major from Amherst, Massachusetts. Her research focuses on notions of domesticity and the liminal space of the 'Black Atlantic,' as defined by scholar Paul Gilroy, in the work of the African-American artist Willie Cole. She is currently working and doing research at the Davis Museum and honing these research skills learned throughout her time in the MMUF Program.
Diana Lee, Geosciences
Diana is from Houston, TX. Her fields of interest include the growing pressures on food and water resources, environmental activism, and the intersectionalities between economic and environmental interests. She is grateful for the MMUF program's support for each students' individual research interests.
Thai Matthews, English
Thai Matthews, a senior English major and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow at Wellesley College, combines her love of English literature with a passion for social justice and uses her research as a means of tracing Euro-Afro racism from its origins in the Age of Exploration to its evolution into social gospel during the Victorian Era at the height of British colonialism. Her work uses original literature from the times as a barometer of social attitudes from the same, relying on hard historical fact to lend fresh perspective to fictional stories and routinely treating the authors themselves as test subjects against which to asses larger general attitudes. Published in the Lebanon Valley Review and currently on leave at Keble College, Oxford University studying Medieval literature, Matthews looks forward to attending graduate school to attain a degree in History.
Caitlin Greenhill-Caldera, Studio Art & Art History
Class of 2014
Maria Taha, Peace and Justice Studies
As the eldest daughter, Maria was born in Kenya to Oromo parents who immigrated from Ethiopia and now call St. Paul, MN home. Captivated after a semester of study at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Maria's interest in work that advances the continent and people has grown. Part of her ever-mutating future career goals are to travel and research extensively across the many regions of Africa. She especially hopes to return to South Africa and visit her parents' homelands someday. She loves research and particularly the MMUF program because it stimulates her curious nature.