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Mellon Mays Fellows, class of 2017

Allison Alcéna '17

Allison Alcéna is currently a senior majoring in English Literature and minoring in Black Studies. In her first Mellon Mays project, “After They Marched: The Civil Rights Movement and Perceptions of Race in Children’s Literature,” Allison explored the various depictions and revisions of the Civil Rights Movement in picture books, as well as the history of racial representations in children’s literature. This inspired her next project and subsequent senior capstone, “Brown Girl Reading/Writing,” titled after Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming. “Brown Girl Reading/Writing” will discuss the role Black women have played in the field of children’s literature, and the significance of children’s books with Black girl protagonists. Allison’s research interests include representations of marginalized identities in literature, library science, and children’s literature. 

Mosea Esaias Harris '17

Mosea Esaias is a senior at Swarthmore College from south side Chicago, Illinois. He is a Special Major in “Peace, Conflict and Social Justice Studies” and a minor in Philosophy. His primary academic interests include: social inequality, particularly income inequality and racism, social justice, politics, moral philosophy and peace studies. He spent the past summer pursuing an independent research project at the University of Chicago exploring the relationship between voter turnout and crime rates across the neighborhoods of Chicago. Outside of academics, Mosea is an active member of the Swarthmore community. In the past he has served as Vice President of the Swarthmore African American Student Society (SASS), Treasurer of the cultural group Achieving Black and Latino Leaders of Excellence (ABLLE), Black Cultural Center Liaison to Student Assembly, and tutor for the Project Blueprints program under the Black Cultural Center. Currently, Mosea is serving his second term as Chair of Diversity and Inclusion on Student Government. In this capacity, Mosea led the passage of the Student Government Bias Response Policy. Mosea is also serving his second term as a member of the Student Budget Committee (SBC). 


Xavier Lee '17

Xavier Gerard Lee is a senior Honors major in comparative literature and French literature with a specialization in African and African-American comparative cultural studies. In particular, he is interested in postcolonial theory, representations, consumer culture and popular media. His thesis focuses on the politics of language in African and African-American literature and posits questions on the ways that language serves as a critical site of counterhegemonic discourse in the expression and production of Black global identities. Xavier is also co-president of the Swarthmore African-American Student Society, co-coordinator of the Black Cultural Center Library and coordinator of the youth empowerment program Blueprints. He is a member of the 2016 MMUF cohort and hopes to pursue a PhD in comparative literature.

Cat Velez-Perry

Cat Velez (they/them) is a special major in Intersectional Representation with a minor in Educational Studies. Their research interests include Urban Education, Women of Color’s Twentieth Century Literature, Diasporic Literatures, Trans*, Black, and Chicanx Feminisms, Celebrity Studies, Artivism, Incarceration and Urban Studies, Public Humanities, and Visual Culture and Media. They are co-founder of the Swarthmore Organization for Low-Income Students (SOLIS), co-president of Swarthmore’s Our Art Spoken in Soul (OASIS), and are a spoken word poet, with work published in four literary magazines.

Daniela Wertheimer '17

Daniela is a senior pursuing an Honors major in Sociology and Anthropology, an Honors minor in Interpretation Theory, and a course minor in Spanish. Her scholarly interests are mostly focused on digital sociology, which takes a critical sociological lens to the relationships between Internet, networks, digital systems/tools and groups of people. Over the summer, Daniela worked with Professor John David Márquez as a part of Northwestern University’s Student Research Opportunity Program (SROP) on a project called “Form, Medium, Ideology: Creating and Critiquing Digital Activism in post-Obergefell v. Hodges America.” She spent eight weeks researching digital scholarship and theory through the analytical lens of queer digital activism that arose as a reaction to the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The project focused on the paradoxes and incompatibilities that face activists who situate or propel their movement on the Internet; tensions, more specifically, between activism and the Internet’s “form,” “medium” and “ideology.” Her contention was that queer digital activists have, indeed, been able to break through these limitations of form, medium and ideology to practice effective digital activism. Daniela plans to pursue a Ph.D. and a career that not only focuses on digital sociology and scholarship, but also integrates the digital into the practice of conducting digital scholarship itself. She is also particularly interested in how digital scholarship can inform understandings of the Latin@ experience, and hopes to find ways to ground her theoretical research interests in this community.