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Five Students Named Mellon Mays Fellows

Mellon Mays fellows surprised by news

The five Mellon Mays fellows were told of the news in a surprise meeting on April 18.

Five Swarthmore students have been selected for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program, which aims to increase the number of minority students and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities pursuing Ph.D. programs in core fields in the arts and sciences.

The program provides fellows with a faculty mentor, term and summer stipends, access to MMUF programming, including an annual regional conference, and additional benefits if they enter a Ph.D. program within 39 months of graduation. The fellowship was established in 1988 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and initially involved eight charter members, including Swarthmore.

The 2019 Mellon Mays fellows include: 

Ruby BantarizaRuby Bantariza '20 (Scottsdale, Ariz.). Bantariza, a peace and conflict studies major, is interested in researching African feminism and female-led activism in the face of conflict in sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of documenting the efforts and environments of change makers that are often left out of history and global narratives.

"I applied to the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship to receive the guidance and support needed to help me successfully achieve my dream of earning a Ph.D.," says Bantariza. "I was so grateful and excited when I found out I was a fellow, and I still carry those same feelings today."

Leslie MoreauxLeslie Moreaux '20 (Bronx, N.Y.). Moreaux, a Black studies special major, is interested in Caribbean studies and will be interning this summer at the Dominican Studies Institute in City College to work in their library archive and do research on the relationship between religion and Black identity formation in the Dominican Republic.

"I was super surprised when I was selected to be a MMUF," Moreaux says. "I had just changed my password the day before so my email did not sync up and I did not receive the congratulatory email. Other people told me I was selected before I even knew, so at first I thought it was a joke until I saw the confirmation."

Emma Morgan-Bennett '20Emma Morgan-Bennett '20 (New York City, N.Y.). Morgan-Bennett, an Honors medical anthropology major, plans to research the intersections between health and race for Black women during pregnancy and birth.

“When I got the news that I had won, I couldn't stop smiling for the entire day and I called my grandpa, who was so proud of me," says Morgan-Bennett. "I feel so incredibly grateful and excited for how MMUF will guide me through the next steps of becoming a scholar."

Ariba NaqviAriba Naqvi ‘20 (Arlington, Tex.). Naqvi is completing a double major in history and peace and conflict studies. Her research interests center on the development of immigrant identity in postcolonial settings, focusing on historical narratives of immigrants from South Asia and the Middle East. She is especially interested in nuanced discussions about the relationship between colonialism and migration, incorporating an analysis on the role of gender and sexuality in immigrant experiences.

"I applied to MMUF because I wanted to pursue further research in subjects I found compelling through my lived experience as a Pakistani Muslim immigrant and academic encounters with work on diaspora and colonialism," says Naqvi. "I am incredibly honored to be chosen as a fellow and look forward to working in the MMUF program."

Elyse O'Bannon​Elyse O'Bannon ’20 (Dallas, Tex.). O'Bannon, a religion major, is interested in studying the relationship religion has with understanding and dealing with death in a practical sense of trying to put together and pay for a funeral, but also emotionally in dealing with grief.

"I applied to be a Mellon Mays Fellow because I was interested in the community and support, both financial and academic, that it would provide me," O'Bannon says." When I read the email and found out that I had been selected, I screamed."





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