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Five Swarthmore Students Receive Mellon Mays Fellowships

Orchids outside of Parrish Hall

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

In congratulating this year’s scholars, Swarthmore’s coordinator of the program, Associate Professor of Educational Studies Joseph Nelson, wrote that the honor reflects their “notable accomplishments as a student, extraordinary promise as a scholar, and our faith in your ability to transform academia as a researcher and professor in the future.”

The fellows join more than 150 former fellows from Swarthmore. The program provides each student with a faculty mentor; 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 program, now in its 33rd academic year, was established by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and initially involved eight charter members, including Swarthmore.

The 2023 Mellon Mays fellows include:

Eduardo BurgosEduardo Burgos ’22 (Emblem, Wyo.): Burgos, a medical anthropology special major with a minor in Spanish, will explore the embodiment of suffering and the way this leads to poor health and illness in Latinx migrant communities. 

“I am interested in the ways historical, social, and political forces shape illness and how migrant workers in the U.S. understand, exist with, and cope with their illnesses,” he says. “Last summer, I did research that aimed to uncover the impacts of COVID-19 on migrant health care through interviews with migrant workers in Wyoming and leaders of migrant nonprofit organizations. This summer, I am collecting illness narratives from migrant workers in Wyoming. While working alongside migrant workers, I have been weeding grass fields and conducted life history interviews.” 

Burgos is also a Lang Opportunity Scholar, a QuestBridge student, and a member of the Latinx-identifying student group ENLACE.

Major EasonMajor Eason ’23 (Madison, Wis.): The research interests of Eason, a sociology and economics double major, lie in analyzing the development of environmental justice movements. 

Eason spent this summer studying the Northwood Manor neighborhood of Houston to understand how the predominantly Black community fought back against the placement of a landfill in its neighborhood. While there, he interviewed residents, conducted archival research, analyzed health and census-tract data, and established connections with Houston-area community leaders. He plans on continuing on to a sociology Ph.D. program. 

Major is a member of Swarthmore’s men’s basketball team as well as C4, a group working for environmental justice in Chester.

Atinuke LardnerAtinuke Lardner ’22 (South Orange, N.J.): Lardner, who is pursuing a special major in political science, philosophy, and economics, with a minor in Spanish, is interested in political and legal philosophy. 

Her research interests include the ongoing debate between individualism and collectivism, theories of justice, legal intersectionality, and the nature of work. After completing her summer research this year, Lardner plans to write a thesis that incorporates her varied academic research. After graduation, she intends to pursue advanced studies in political theory or philosophy. 

At Swarthmore, Lardner has also served as an intern with the Libraries and Admissions, and as a Diversity Peer Advisor. Last spring, she conducted a virtual micro-internship with alumni partner Laura Markowitz ’85 of Voices on the Economy (VOTE).

Destiny SamuelDestiny Samuel ’22 (Philadelphia, Pa.): Samuel, who is majoring in Black studies with a minor in educational studies, is interested in exploring the sociocultural perceptions of language and literacy patterns employed by Black children in America. She will look at how that influences language use, identity, and the production of knowledge in Black learning spaces and communities. 

Samuel is a lead writing associate fellow for the Writing Center and a research and information associate for the Libraries. After graduating from Swarthmore, she intends to enter a graduate program to expand her interests.

Samuel earned a Richard Rubin scholarship in 2019 and a McCabe Scholarship in 2018.

Megan Wu​Megan Wu ’23 (Seattle, Wash.): Wu, an honors philosophy major and honors mathematics minor and course major, focuses largely on ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of law.

Wu spent the summer researching how compassion as a political emotion can shape and justify a theory of punishment, and also studied ancient Greek.

“Being able to read these texts as they were originally written would offer a deeper understanding of their nuance and a clearer understanding of the ideas in them,” she says. “I will carry this forward to my future philosophical research on political philosophy and ethics."

Wu also coaches high school debaters, serves on the board of Swarthmore’s Amos J. Peaslee Debate Society, and is involved with dance on campus. After Swarthmore, she intends to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy.

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