Five New Mellon Mays Fellows
Continue College's Strong Tradition in Program
by Stacey Kutish
Five students are the newest recipients of Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships (MMUF). Their selection continues a strong tradition of Swarthmore's involvement in a program that aims to increase the number of African American, Latino, and Native American students, as well as others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue Ph.D.s in the arts and sciences.
"A central element of the MMUF program is the support of students of color, given the significant and persistent underrepresentation of those groups on the faculties of colleges and universities across the country," says Assistant Dean Rafael Zapata, co-coordinator of MMUF at Swarthmore. "This year's fellowship recipients - all first-generation college students - were selected because of their academic performance, the support of their recommenders, and the exceptional promise they demonstrated to become future scholars. We're extremely excited to work with them."
This year's fellows are:
Jessica Adomako '13, from Bronx, N.Y., designed a special major in migration studies in which she is exploring the integration of new immigrants, religiously oriented journeys, and the assessment of humanitarian emergencies as they relate to refugees. Outside of the classroom, she works for Information Technology Services, participated in the Tri-College Summer Multicultural Institute, and dances with Rhythm N' Motion Dance Company. "I look forward to being a part of an inspiring community where I can learn from other scholars through hearing their stories and supporting their causes," she says. "I am eager to arrive at a place where I can design curricula that help to alleviate the humanitarian crisis caused by increasing incidents of forced migration."
Julio Alicea '13, from Bethlehem, Pa., is an honors sociology and anthropology major with an interest in the intersections of race/ethnicity, class, and education. Julio participated in the Organizing Skills Institute, an intensive training program for social justice organizers, and is involved in Saturdays of Service and the College Democrats. "My most significant academic experience at Swarthmore has been making the connections between my studies, activism, and service," he says. "It's been really rewarding to see some of the common threads that have arisen. I am looking forward to making full use of the support structure put in place by the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship in order to engage in meaningful work both inside the classroom and out in the community."
Nilo Bermeo '12, an English literature major from Corona, N.Y., transferred to Swarthmore as a junior. He has already benefited from mentoring at Swarthmore, with a number of professors offering encouragement and offering guidance. "What I am most looking forward to as a Mellon Mays Fellow is the research," he says. "I am being allowed to pursue my own passions within the English field."
Khalia Grady '13, a linguistics major from Philadelphia, Pa., has filled her time outside the classroom by working with the Village Education Project, which provides educational opportunities to Ecuadorean children, and Dare to Soar, a tutoring program providing after-school homework help, cultural enrichment activities, and mentoring to students from Chester, Pa. She credits these programs with educating her about social problems and teaching her the value of working with children in preparation for a shared future. "I am looking most forward to being able to conduct linguistic research that pertains to Spanish," she says. "With the support of Mellon Mays, I will have a chance to work with a scholar that I would not normally have the chance to work with. This program will take away some of my stress related to the cost of living expenses during the summers."
Javier Ernesto Perez '13, a political science major from Arlington, Va., is concentrating his studies on political and economic development, social inequality through power dynamics, sources of change, and the conditions for progress. He has been active in Achieving Black and Latino Leaders of Excellence, an organization for Black and Latino males at Swarthmore through which he helped organize a Haiti Benefit Show, and a mentoring program for young men of color in Chester, Pa. Perez is a co-coordinator and tutor for Project Blueprint, a tutoring and mentoring program for high school students from Chester, Pa., and a co-founder of OASIS (Our Art Spoken in Soul), Swarthmore's first spoken word group. Perez is also part of the Richard Rubin Scholar Mentoring Program, in which students are paired with mentors and participate in paid internships hosted by alumni in established careers. "I look forward to the research opportunities I will have through the Mellon Mays Undergrad Fellowship, specifically the relationships and connections I will build with other fellows and with the faculty and scholars with whom I will meet and work," he says. "I also look forward with enthusiasm to the opportunity of the training I will receive as a future scholar."
While at Swarthmore, the follows will partner with faculty mentors who can provide insight into careers in scholarship and teaching. They will also be able to take advantage of stipends to conduct research and participate in an annual regional conference for Mellon Fellows. The fellowship program continues beyond their Swarthmore years, supporting students with predoctoral research grants, loan repayment for graduate work, and travel, research, and dissertation grants.