Five Pitzer Students Selected as Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows

Claremont, Calif. (July 14, 2017)—Pitzer College students Victor Bene ’19,  Kevin Kandamby ’19, Javier LopezCasertano ’19, Naima OrozcoValdivia ’19 and Jasmine (Jazzy) Randle ’19 have been selected for the 2017 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program. An initiative of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the MMUF Program aims to increase faculty diversity by supporting underrepresented students who plan to pursue academic careers. MMUF fellows receive academic and co-curricular support through faculty mentorship, stipends for research, events and repayment of undergraduate loans up to $10,000.

With support from the Claremont Colleges MMUF Program, Bene, Kandamby, LopezCasertano, OrozcoValdivia and Randle plan to undertake a wide variety of research projects:

Victor Bene ’19, an Africana studies and environmental analysis double major, will research and craft a historiography of best practices of survival within House and Ball Culture from 1980 to 1990 in New York City, taking an interdisciplinary approach to understanding transgender people of color in their totality.

Kevin Kandamby ’19

Kevin Kandamby ’19, a Chicano/a-Latino/a transnational studies major and mathematics minor, will research the retention rates of first-generation Latina/o students enrolled in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs at predominately white higher education institutions and examine how these institutions can better retain underrepresented students.

Javier LopezCasertano ’19, Mellon Mays Undergraduate FellowJavier LopezCasertano ’19, an international/intercultural studies and Spanish major, will conduct a qualitative ethnographic investigation that analyzes how Mayan indigenous actors in the central highlands of Guatemala are implementing bilingual, intercultural education by focusing on the historical narratives of the Guatemalan civil war.

Naima OrozcoValdivia ’19, a history major and theater minor, will conduct an oral history on Plaza de La Raza, a community arts organization and school located in Lincoln Heights, CA, with the goal of identifying Plaza’s role as a center for arts and education as well as placing it within the historical context of the Chicano movement in Los Angeles.

Jasmine (Jazzy) Randle ’19

Jasmine (Jazzy) Randle ’19, an environmental analysis and sociology major, will analyze the relationship between social cohesion, social dialogue and social capital in a community garden, aiming to discern if and how community gardening deconstructs social barriers.

The Claremont Colleges became members of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships program in January 2015 and received a $1 million grant to implement measures designed to create a more diverse faculty for America’s colleges and universities. The Claremont Colleges MMUF program selects a new cohort of 10 sophomores each spring for an annual cohort size of 20 juniors and seniors from across the Claremont Colleges.

MMUF fellows are selected for their demonstrated academic ability and their aspirations to pursue a doctoral degree in humanities and select social sciences and physical sciences. The program continues to support fellows during their graduate and postdoctoral careers through grants, close mentoring and training.

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