MMUF Fellows pursue Ph.D.s and follow their dreams

Several of Connecticut College’s 2013 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program participants have been accepted into Ph.D. programs and are on their way to becoming professors in their chosen fields. 

Established at Connecticut College with a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2008, the MMUF program is dedicated to increasing the number of students from underrepresented minority groups who pursue Ph.D.s and supporting the pursuit of Ph.D.s by students who may not come from underrepresented minority groups but have demonstrated a commitment to the goals of MMUF. Only a select group of colleges are invited to participate in the program. In 2012, Connecticut College received a second grant from the Mellon Foundation that will support the program through 2016.

Each year, faculty members select a cohort of rising juniors interested in pursuing Ph.D.s in core fields in the arts and sciences. The program provides these fellows with faculty mentorship and research training, as well as a yearly stipend, summer research support, funding for research-related travel and the opportunity to attend conferences with other Mellon fellows. Mellon fellows who, in preparation for professorial careers, enroll in Ph.D. programs after graduation are then eligible for repayment of their undergraduate loans up to a maximum of $10,000.

“The goal of the MMUF program is to create a pipeline for the diversification of the faculty throughout higher education institutions,” said Dean of Multicultural Affairs Elizabeth Garcia. “We are so proud of our 2013 MMUF Fellows, who are certain to contribute greatly to scholarship and pedagogy in their respective fields.”

Three of the six 2013 fellows are going directly into Ph.D. programs, while a fourth is enrolling in a master’s program. The remaining two fellows plan to work before eventually pursuing a master’s or Ph.D.

Meet the 2013 MMUF Fellows:

Name: Ronald Artica
Major: History and Latin American studies
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Activities: Posse scholar, club soccer, immigration reform advocacy
Post-Graduation Plans: To spend the year pursing the culinary arts and working for a catering company, then likely apply to a master’s or Ph.D. program
Dream Job: To teach about Latin America and Latin American history
On MMUF: “Before MMUF, I never imagined myself as a candidate for graduate studies. MMUF has given me the confidence I once lacked. This is all thanks to people like professors Candace Howes, Monique Bedasse and Leo Garofalo, who all believed in me before I believed in myself.”

Name: Jamil Jorge
Major: Ethnomusicology
Hometown: Cranston, R.I.
Activities: Concert Band, Jazz Band, Orchestra, chair of music department student advisory board, completed senior honors thesis (nominated for the Ames Prize, which recognizes the best honors thesis of the year)
Post-Graduation Plans: Pursuing a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dream Job: To become a college professor of ethnomusicology and an instructor for the marching arts
On playing jazz and providing music for dance classes: “When others dance to your groove, it is an awesome feeling.”
On completing an honors thesis: “My thesis was more than just a research paper. In the process of completing it, I improved my academic skills immensely and also began to really discover my own identity.”

Andrea Mendoza
Name: Andrea Mendoza
Major: East Asian languages and cultures, with a concentration in Japanese language and literature
Hometown: Middletown, N.J. (native of Guadalajara, Mexico)
Activities: President of East Asian studies student advisory board, Japanese language fellow, completed honors thesis, studied abroad in Kyoto
Post-Graduation Plans: Pursuing a Ph.D. in Asian literature, religion and culture at Cornell University
Dream Job: To never stop being a student; to become a professor who is always learning
On MMUF: “Beyond providing me with the opportunity to view myself in the future as a scholar, the program also gave me a cohort of some of the most amazing and interesting people I have met at Connecticut College.”

Justine O'Sullivan, Connecticut College student
Name: Justine O’Sullivan
Major: International relations and Islamic world studies (self-designed)
Hometown: Queens, N.Y.
Activities: Completed honors thesis and performed in Fusion, an annual evening of music, dance and other celebrations of Asian culture
Post-Graduation Plans: Pursuing a Master of Arts in Middle Eastern studies at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and serving as a conflict resolution intern at Tanenbaum, an organization that combats religious prejudice and promotes mutual respect
Dream Job: Work for the United Nations or an NGO as a human rights advocate
On MMUF: “The highlights of my undergraduate education were the relationships that I developed with my advisers and mentors. Their advice and guidance was critical to the decisions I made about Conn and my post-graduate plans.”

Name: Sonya Rao
Major: Post-colonial linguistic anthropology (self-designed)
Hometown: Bucks County, Pa.
Activities: Student fellow of Connecticut College’s Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, completed honors thesis (nominated for the Ames Prize, which recognizes the best honors thesis of the year)
Post-Graduation Plans: Pursuing a Ph.D. in linguistic anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles
Dream Job: To be a professor (and grow her own food)
On MMUF: “It fundamentally changed the way I think about my future.”
On the MMUF fellows: “My cohort is an amazing group of individuals who I am blessed to have spent the last few years with. I truly would not have made it through any part of the process without them, and I am proud to be part of such an incredible group of supportive students, activists and artists.”

Name: Skyler Volpe
Major: Dance, sociology and French
Hometown: Port Washington, N.Y.
Activities: Performed in dance department concerts, performed in and choreographed pieces for dance club concerts, member of Scuds long-form improv group and Vox Cameli a cappella, performed in Wig and Candle theater productions and choreographed theater department musical “Into the Woods,” studied abroad in France
Post-Graduation Plans: Move to Manhattan to pursue dance and theater and may eventually pursue a Ph.D.
Dream Job: To make art that is honest and that makes people laugh/ smile/ jump/ scream/ think
On opportunities at Connecticut College: “When I dreamed of college as a high schooler, this was the dream.”
On MMUF: “MMUF has helped me learn what kind of scholar I am and will be from here on out. I now know that my research interests cannot be contained in one academic discipline, and that pursuing my passion will require breaking down walls.”


June 20, 2013