Our Fellows

Class of 2016

Hazim Abdullah-Smith

Hazim Abdullah-Smith is a third year student majoring in African American Studies and minoring in French. He is also working toward a certificate in Civic Engagement. Hazim is a first-generation college student who is seeking to make an impact through political, social and scholarly activism. His research interests include race, class, gender, prison writings, prison abolition, and 20th century black literature. His current research project explores the representations of imprisonment and confinement in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. In the future, Hazim aspires to continue his education with African and African Diaspora Studies.

Cinthya Rodriguez

Cinthya Rodriguez is a first-generation, Chicana student currently pursuing a Latina/o Studies major and double minors in African American Studies and Asian American Studies. From the Southwest Side of Chicago, Cinthya has a strong commitment to community organizing and youth activism. Currently, she is working on making the case for Ethnic Studies in all of Chicago's high schools; focusing on how Chicago Public Schools students understand their subjectivities and think about power and governance through African American and Latina/o Studies curricula. Her research interests include Critical Ethnic Studies, Women of Color Feminists, and Critical Pedagogy.

DeAnna Smith

DeAnna Smith, a junior from Homewood, IL, currently studies Sociology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. DeAnna is interested in the Sociology of Religion and the Sociology of Education. Within these fields, she is interested in using intersectional approaches to study how one's race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, and gender inform religious and educational experiences. This past year, DeAnna interned with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and was a Global Engagement Fellow.

Ariana Steele

Ariana Steele is a Junior in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Linguistics and Computer Science, and minoring in French. Since she began learning French in the third grade, she has always wondered how language may reflect the inner workings of the brain. She is also interested in using second language learning as a medium to better understand language and the brain. After graduation, Ariana intends to apply for a research Fulbright and attend graduate school in linguistics.

Alberto Takase

As a junior in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Alberto Takase majors in Mathematics and minors in Chemistry. He currently specializes in Set Theory due to its emphasis on mathematical logic and the axiomatic method. Besides being an active participant at the Northwestern University Math Society, he also enjoys playing chess and learning technology. He hopes to address the under-representation of minorities in the mathematical community by eventually working as a professor and mentoring students also interested in joining the ranks of institutional faculty. Alberto also works at the Northwestern University Information Technology (NUIT) center.

Class of 2015

Sarah Bridgewaters

Sarah Bridgewaters is studying African American Studies and International Studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Her experiences growing up with a shared German, African-American, Dominican and Native American heritage and as a citizen of a foreign country influenced her interests in racial disparities and higher education. Her future research will focus on inequities within the Chicago Public Schools, namely high truancy and dropout rates. She plans to study successful urban school districts and supplemental programs in order to provide context for the problems within the Chicago Public Schools.

Aozora Brockman

Aozora (Zoe) Brockman started her undergraduate career as a freshman in the Medill School of Journalism, but her profound fascination with racial issues across the world soon drew her to the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, and she is presently in the process of switching majors to Anthropology, with minors in both Creative Writing and Asian American Studies. Zoe feels incredibly lucky to have met so many influential, impactful and kind professors at Northwestern who have shaped her ideas and worldview. One such professor who changed Zoe’s life is Professor Nitasha Tamar Sharma, who is also a recent recipient of the 2013 Charles Deering McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence Award. After taking Professor Sharma’s Mixed Race Studies course, Zoe was asked to be her research assistant and was therefore able to travel to Hawai`i for three weeks during the summer before Zoe’s sophomore year to conduct ethnographic and bibliographic research on site on the island. The experience convinced her of wanting to pursue a career in research (on race) and professorship. Currently, Zoe is working on a long-term project in which she would like to find out how the racialized image of Koreans in Japan are changing—or not changing—because of the recent rise in South Korea’s economic and social power through studying how Korean-Japanese biethnics (those with one Korean and one Japanese parent) can ethnically identify in Japan.

Christian Keeve

Christian (Chris) Keeve is majoring in Environmental Science with a focus on plant ecology. Additionally, he has an adjunct major in Urban Studies and a minor in African-American Studies. He plans to use the unique combinations of these subject areas to inform his research project. His interests are in the intersection of urbanism and the environment, as well as how communities of color engage with the environment and how the environment is brought into urban settings. Chris is currently planning to research urban forestry and the greening of urban environments. He hopes to explore vertical gardens and green roofs as well as the sociological effects of varying levels of greenery and nature in various urban environments and neighborhoods. Chris also has interests in black queer studies, pop culture, mycology, and conservation. 

Ellyn Peña

Ellyn Peña is a dual major in African-American Studies and Learning and Organizational Change. He is interested in the dynamics of ethnic minorities within Predominantly White Institutions. He hopes to examine the ways in which student protest and activism have evolved since the 1970’s-1980’s. He hopes to apply his study to examine the institutional culture at Northwestern University in relation to racial climate and student protest.

Zaynab Quadri

Zaynab Quadri is an Anthropology and History double major in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Her research interests are in film and the relationship between popular culture, media, and politics in the U.S. Her project explores notions of race, gender and Cold War politics in the James Bond films.

Program Alumni

Class of 2014

 

Kristian Ayala

KAyala

As a marathon runner, Kristian Ayala has learned a great deal about psychological and physical hardship. From this, Kristian has learned to value the social and racial parity that marathons provide, where racial and ethnic barriers are eliminated in common struggle and sacrifice. Kristian hopes to bring the same values that he has learned while training and competing to his career in higher education. Kristian is currently a Junior studying English with a Linguistic minor in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Last summer, Kristian was awarded the distinct honor of the Posner Fellowship. This fellowship allowed him to complete research on the emergence of Irish literary tradition in the early 20th century. As a MMUF fellow, he hopes to focus on the influence of the symbolist movement on modernists, like William Butler Yeats, and other facets of 20th century literature.

Soad Mana

SMana

Soad is a junior double-majoring in Anthropology and Psychology with a minor in Global Health Studies. Soad’s initial research interests focused on food anthropology with a specific focus on the roles of food in representation, construction, and maintenance of cultural identity. Participating in research this past summer allowed her to take a more domestic perspective on food inequalities. Her project explored how communities of color define food justice and their efforts to improve access in a food desert in Chicago’s South Side. After this experience, she decided to focus on how interactions between Middle Eastern corner store owners and African American customers’ impact intervention programs designed to implement healthier food practices within the same food desert community.

Liz Pinedo

LPinedo

Liz is a junior double-majoring in Sociology and Anthropology at Northwestern University. Though not a native of Chicago, Liz has strong Midwestern roots, growing up alongside her two brothers in Indianapolis. Her parents, both Mexican immigrants, and extended family serve as a strong inspiration for Liz to continue to succeed in her academic and personal endeavors. As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, Liz is excited to pursue ongoing research on Latinos and education. This past summer, she participated in the Northwestern Summer Research Opportunity Program, examining the characterization and role of parental involvement in the educational attainment of Mexican/Mexican Americans. Other broad areas of interest include urban sociology, inequality, race, class, and family. She hopes to pursue graduate school in sociology. In her spare time Liz enjoys blogging, watching foreign films, and exploring neighborhoods and restaurants in Chicago.

Claire Dillon

CDillon

Claire Dillon graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Art History and a minor in Italian. On campus she served on the boards of Northwestern Art Review and the Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights, and was a co-founder of Project ShoutOUT, an organization focused on outreach and support for LGBTQ youth. With support from the Mellon Mays Program, she studied abroad in Bologna, Italy, and Havana, Cuba, to pursue her research interests in the art of the early middle ages and late 20th century. Her final research project, which received the J. Carson Webster Prize for Distinguished Honors Thesis, focused on issues of identity negation and negotiation in reinterpretations of work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Since graduating, Claire has worked as the editorial assistant for the publication Art Journal and as the Director of Education and Outreach for ART WORKS Projects. She plans to complete a doctoral program in Art History to pursue a career as a professor.

Amrit Trewn

ATrewn

Amrit Trewn is a Statistics and Critical Theory in Cultural Studies double major and Mathematics minor in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He uses critical theory, textual analysis, and mathematical/statistical modeling to develop different frameworks through which to examine culture and cultural difference. He primarily does so by looking at race through the lens of multiraciality with the goal of destabilizing whiteness (and, secondarily, heteronormativity) with ideas of mixedness. This past summer, he questioned how the media and political structures in the millennial U.S. have constructed the interracial intimacy and multi-racial body as symbols of the post-racial fantasy, finding popular discourses of multiracialism to be anti-black reifications of white purity and reflective of a post black desiring. His next project will be a critical retrospective piece on interracial marriage rates and the pseudo-science of race theory in the U.S., arguing that critical theory as a school of thought and statistics as a discipline are enhanced as truth-seekers when put in conversation with one another.

Serena Walker

SWalker

Serena is a Junior studying African American Studies and Political Science.  As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, Serena hopes to research the manifestations of race-based inequality. By studying race in Latin America, Serena wishes to research the development of color stratification and how these historical perceptions exist and manifest in blackness. Working at LIFT, an organization whose goal is to improve upward mobility for the impoverished, Serena has learned about the barriers that many face in moving out of poverty. This position, combined with many other experiences, has focused Serena toward a future in education, social policy and ethnic studies.

Class of 2013

Kevin Echavarria

KEchavarria

Kevin Echavarria is an English and Comparative Literature Studies major. Initially, his research interests involved analyzing the use of allusion to classic literary texts in Latino/a literature. Since his acceptance into the program and initial proposal, his research project has shifted to examine the authorial figure in contemporary Latino/a literature, especially in the dynamic of the author-reader relationship, and approaching this figure through postmodern literary theory (examples being Foucault’s “What is an Author?” and Barthes’ “Death of the Author”).

Hyungjoo Han

HHan

Hyungjoo Han was brought to our attention by Gary Alan Fine, who indicated that she was among the strongest scholars he had seen during his time at Northwestern. She is a double major in Legal Studies and American studies. Her research interests center on higher education admissions policies, specifically within with University of California schools. Her current research centers on the relocation of Japanese American college students during World War II from internment camps to higher education institutions outside of the Pacific Coast. Specifically, Hyungjoo’s research focuses on the influx of Japanese Americans to Chicago during the 1940s, the students' re-entry into higher education, and the implications of relocation on contemporary conceptions of the Asian American identity (specifically in the context of higher education).

Kira Hooks

KHooks

Kira Hooks was an Art History and Radio, Television, & Film double major in the School of Communications. Her research with the Mellon Mayes Undergraduate Research Program examined Black nationality and Black masculinity in the Watch the Thrown album by Jay-Z and Kanye West.  After graduating with Honors in Research and Leadership, Kira moved back home to Atlanta, Georgia where she now works as a Media Coordinator for Cox Media Group.  She hopes to return to graduate school in 2-3 years to pursue a Masters of Marketing.

Jasmine Jennings

JJennings

Jasmine Jennings is an Art History major in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Her interests lie in the ways in which "difference" is interpreted in visual art and considers how the works of art created by people of different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds are received in the United States and the implications therein. She was inspired by the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, whose theory encompasses the way human beings understand and address that which is “other” to them or to the norm. Jasmine recently returned from Buenos Aires, Argentina where she studied Argentine visual culture and the improved her Spanish skills for 5 months. Her senior thesis will build on her interests and study the representations of Afro-Argentines in the Museo National de Bellas Artes.

Rafael R Vizcaino

RVizcaino

Rafael Vizcaíno graduated with a major in Philosophy with minors in Critical Theory and Latin American History. A Posner Fellow and a Leopold Fellow, Rafael was encouraged to apply to the MMUF program by Geraldo Cadava. As a Mellon Mays Fellow, Rafael studied the work of Karl Marx and Michel Foucault under the mentorship of Charles W. Mills and Penelope Deutscher. Rafael also established the Critical Theory Research Workshop and wrote an honors thesis (supervised by Mark Alznauer) on Jürgen Habermas’s theory of deliberative democracy. After graduating from NU, Rafael applied to PhD programs and began working for the Mellon Mays Fellows Professional Network at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. During the fall of 2014 he will be enrolled in the PhD program in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University, where he will be engaging with decolonial thought and Latin American cultural studies.

Class of 2012

Kellyn Lewis

KLewis

Kellyn Lewis was an African American Studies and Philosophy major in the Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences with a strong interest in the work of Frantz Fanon. He was highly involved on campus and in community and labor organizing. His research as a Mellon Fellow worked to critique the social contracts of liberal thinkers in the canon of Western liberal philosophy and work through difficult concepts of important political theorists who establish the colonial and racial gestures of the historical work. Since graduating Kellyn has driven his research interests through various intellectual endeavors by both taking a series of philosophy courses in the canon of Continental tradition, while also doing independent work in critical philosophy and political economy with Dr. Charles Mills. He is looking to enroll in graduate school in the fall of 2015 where he hopes to engage in the Islamicization of theoretical knowledge.

Irene Romulo

IRomulo

Irene Romulo is a Social Policy major and Latino/a Studies minor in the School of Education. Her research has explored a number of issues within the field of Latino/a Studies, including the experience of aging among Mexican migrant populations. She has participated in both the Northwestern SROP program and the U-Chicago MMUF Summer Research program. The working title of her project is; “I Too Have a Story: The Experience of Middle Age for Mexican Migrant Women in Chicago.” Irene is currently working on an Immigrant Rights campaign in Oakland, California as part of the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship. She plans to apply to graduate schools for Anthropology in the future.

Isabella Villa

IVilla

Isabella Villa double majored in International Studies and Social Policy. Her primary research interests include how Afro-Colombian Studies programs are implemented by teachers within the Bogotá public school system. She spent two quarters studying abroad (one in Chile and one in Columbia) and was able to spend an additional two weeks in Bogota during the summer of 2011 with Mellon funding to complete additional field work. She participated in the SROP program in the summer of 2010 and completed an independent internship in San Francisco with a legal clinic in the summer of 2012. Isabella is currently teaching English at a primary school in Barcelona.

Myrtie Williams

MWilliams

Myrtie Williams entered the Mellon Fellowship as a sophomore working under the mentorship of Professor Michelle Wright in the African American Studies Department. Her current research interests are entrenched in the online black natural hair community. Through the process of her senior thesis project, Our Voices are PowerFro: Black women and the development of diaspora identity in the online natural hair community, Myrtie researched networks of communication among Black women developed through blogs, YouTube channels, discussion board forums, and social media sites exchanging in their experiences and sentiments with "going natural." Myrtie is currently entering her second year as a doctoral student in the Cultural Studies Graduate Group at the University of California Davis.

Jonathan Young

JYoung

Jonathan Young is a recent graduate of Northwestern University with a double major in Communication Studies and Legal Studies, as well as a minor in Music. While a Mellon Mays Fellow, he produced three large projects, mainly centered on Asian American Christianity and Asian American social justice.  Jonathan participated in Northwestern University's SROP program in the summer of 2010, worked for the Illinois Attorney General's office in the summer of 2011, and is currently in his first year as a corps member in Teach for America. Jonathan teaches high school special education at Harper High School, located in Chicago's West Englewood neighborhood. Upon completion of Teach for America, Jonathan plans to apply to PhD programs in Asian American Studies and to Evangelical seminaries.

Class of 2011

 

Judith Landeros

JLanderos

Judith Landeros was a Social Policy and Latino/a Studies major with an interest in high school graduation rates among Latinos/as and teacher/administrator efficacy. Judith had the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of her topic while studying abroad in Mexico. She participated in the University of Chicago Summer program during the summer of 2009 and the Brown University Leadership Academy during the summer of 2012. She is currently participating in the Teach for America in Chicago, Illinois.

Veronica Morales

VMorales

Veronica Morales is interested in oral story telling among Mexican-Americans, particularly with the use of The Legend of Pancho Villa. During the summer of 2009, she had the opportunity to participate in the University of Chicago Summer program. In 2010, she was accepted into the Leadership Academy PSURE program at Princeton University. While there, Ms. Morales developed her thesis around the impact of Villa's legend on theater troupes in California from 1960-1968. She graduated with a degree in American Studies and Communication Studies from Northwestern University. Ms. Morales is currently a senior consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. She has supported clients in strategic communication areas such as speech writing, publishing and change communications. In her current engagement, she develops strategic communication products for a government agency that deals directly with active duty service member health care benefits.

Dana Nickson

DNickson

Dana Nickson received her BA in African American Studies with a minor in Anthropology from Northwestern University in 2011. Dana recently returned from Khayelitsha, South Africa where she was serving as a Princeton in Africa Fellow with Equal Education, a community-based education advocacy organization. Starting Fall 2014, Dana will be a Centennial Scholar at The University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education where she will pursue a Master's of Education in Education, Culture and Society. Dana ultimately plans to obtain her PhD in order to conduct qualitative and community-based research in urban educational settings.

Marcus Shepard

MShepard

Marcus Shepard received his B.A. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University with a specialization in Rhetoric, Media, and Public Culture. In addition to his B.A. in Communication, Shepard received a minor in sociological research and a certificate in Leadership from Northwestern’s University Leadership Program. As an undergraduate he taught two courses, a student led seminar General Studies 298: The Political and Social Ramifications of Soul Music as well as Communication Studies 398: Northwestern Community Building Initiative. He has worked as a documentarian and his first documentary “Divorcing the History,” investigated the current state of the Black community at Northwestern. It premiered at the European Week of Action Against Racial Discrimination (2009) in Poznań, Poland. He is currently a second year doctoral student at USC's Annenberg School of Communication and is interested in Black musical performance and its intersections with race, glass, and gender. His broader research interests include popular music, race and ethnicity, popular culture, political economy, and media effects.

Kristen Sun

KSun

Kristen Sun is a PhD candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2011 with a BA in American Studies. Currently, her work focuses on representations of sexual/gendered violence in war in South Korean and American films, museums, and memorials with a particular focus on WWII and the Korean War. She received a Fulbright Fellowship and will be conducting dissertation research in the 2014-2015 academic year, conducting a study of Korean War memorials, museums, and films in South Korea as well as memorials, museums, and films that focus on the "comfort women" (military sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial army during WII). Her dissertation research seeks to bring together contemporary transnational memorial activism across South Korea and the U.S. with state-sanctioned and popular cultural representations of war that often obscure sexual/gendered violence during and after combat.