Pitzer Students and Alumni Recognized for Academic Excellence and Innovation

2020-21 Fellowships, Grants, and Other Awards

Fulbright Fellowships

The Fulbright US Student Program, the largest international exchange program in the US, provides grants for students and young professionals to pursue individually designed study/research projects or participate in English Teaching Assistant Programs. 

Sophie Basseches ’20, a sociology major and gender and feminist studies minor, has been awarded a 2021-22 Fulbright to teach English in Spain, assigned to the Canary Islands. She plans to use her past teaching experience in both Ecuador and the US in order to impart her passion for cross-cultural communication. Sophie’s pedagogy will include interactive, flexible, and creative teaching strategies that involve lively participation and structure in an open and non-judgmental classroom atmosphere. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in social welfare, with the goal of becoming an elementary school counselor in Spanish-speaking communities.

Sophie Basseches '20

Lily Borak ’21, a human biology major and English and world literature minor, is the recipient of a Fulbright to conduct research in Nepal on the use of interactive theater formats, such as playback theater and forum theater, as tools for healing. She will focus of how interactive theater has helped heal communities from specific traumatic events, such as the 2015 earthquake, as well as from ongoing social issues, such as gender discrimination. In addition, Lily will engage with Nepal’s spoken-word poetry community. Upon returning to the US, she hopes to pursue an MA in drama therapy and become an accredited drama therapist.

Lily Borak '21

Gabriela Carrera ’21, a media and critical race studies major, has received a Fulbright to conduct research in the Dominican Republic, utilizing the perspective of sex workers in order to identify how cis- and trans-women working in the informal economies, whose income has been contingent upon their ability to provide services that traditionally require physical contact, are strengthening avenues for worker solidarity amidst the pandemic and counteracting the stratification exacerbated by transnational tourism and economies of desire. Gabriela’s future plans include pursuing a master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean studies with a joint concentration in Africana studies.

Gabriela Carrera '21

Priscilla Cobian ’16, a sociology/Spanish major and Chicanx-Latinx studies minor, was awarded a 2020-21 Fulbright to Mexico to teach English. She was unable to carry out her plans due to the pandemic; she re-applied and received an offer to undertake her Fulbright for the 2021-22 year.

Priscilla Cobian '16

Esme Kline ’19, an organismal biology major, received a 2020-21 Fulbright last year to do research in Panama where she will be investigating historic drivers of coral reef decline in Bocas del Toro. She reapplied and plans to undertake a 2021-22 Fulbright instead. Esme’s research will involve three phases: physical collection of coral cores; extraction of skeletal material for geochemical analyses and development of growth chronologies and analyses of results. To complement her research and for community engagement, she plans to work with the mentorship program “Mujeres del Océano,” or Women of the Ocean, which aims to deepen local girls’ connection with the ocean through activities such as surfing, snorkeling and beach cleanups. Esme plans to pursue a PhD in marine ecosystems and society. 

Veronica Martinez ’21, an organizational studies and Spanish double major, is the recipient of a Fulbright to teach English in Spain at the La Communidad de Madrid. Her experience in teaching English in Vietnam, Spain, and the US will enable her to demonstrate how the power of bilingualism can increase social and cultural knowledge in a community amid a globalizing world. As an applicant from a border town, Veronica will incorporate her experiences as a first-generation Mexican American to explain the multicultural sectors in the US. Upon her return to the US, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in education policy.

Victoria Martinez '21

Jessica Miao ’21, a biology major, has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Germany, where she will use her position as an ETA to bring discussions and language around the topic of race in Germany and the US to students. During a previous time in Germany, she found it frustrating to see that, to many, a non-white person was automatically considered an outsider while, simultaneously, white people were accepted as belonging. As an ETA in Germany, Jessica wants to both learn from and share with students. She aims to assist her co-teacher in constructing communities of inclusivity and understanding, believing a classroom is the perfect place to start. Upon completion of her Fulbright year, Jessica plans to work for a year and ultimately attend medical school.

Jessica Miao '21

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

MMUF is the centerpiece of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s long-term effort to help remedy the serious shortage of faculty of color in higher education.

Robert Green ’23, who plans to major in history, will examine critical race theory and racial formation within the early 19th-century abolitionist movement to show a historical trend of Black resistance and resilience. Robert plans to pursue a PhD in African American studies. 

Robert Green '23

Quentin Jenkins Jr. ’23who plans to major in sociology, will conduct qualitative research examining the ways disciplinary policies and punitive practices in the education system disproportionately impact Black and Brown students. He hopes to shed light on how instruments of surveillance in schools and educational policies can negatively impact Black and Brown students’ relationship with the education system. Quentin plans to pursue a PhD in sociology of education. 

Quentin Jenkins Jr. '21

Sergio Quechol ’23, who plans to major in gender and feminist studies and Latin American studies, will conduct research through oral histories to examine trans violence and resistance in Latin America—specifically Mexico, Brazil, and El Salvador—to explore both the impact of mutual aid/care and the integrity of pleasure and what that looks like for a community that is continuously targeted by family and (intra)community members and the state. Sergio plans to pursue a PhD in gender and women’s studies. 

Sergio Quechol '23

Jocelyn Vega-Robledo ’23who plans to double major in sociology and Chicana/o-Latina/o studies, will research parental involvement of Latinx agricultural workers in their children’s academic planning and college enrollment process. After Pitzer, she plans to pursue a PhD in sociology and ultimately become a college professor.  

Jocelyn Vega-Robledo '23

Critical Language Scholarship

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), a program of the US Department of State, is a summer study abroad opportunity for American college students to learn languages that are essential to America’s engagement with the world and critical to national security and economic prosperity.

Andrea Parry ’23, a political studies and Middle East and North Africa studies double major, has been awarded her second Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Arabic. She plans to study with Jordan Language Academy in Amman, Jordan, in summer 2021. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Andrea is participating in the CLS program virtually to develop her Arabic language skills. She hopes to build on her CLS experience by studying Arabic in Jordan in the spring of 2022. Andrea aims to work in the field of international affairs focusing on Middle East policy after graduation. 

Andrea Parry '23

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Adriana M. Ceron ’18 has been awarded a five-year fellowship from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP). This fellowship recognizes outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in NSF-supported STEM disciplines, which include mathematics, natural sciences, engineering, computer and information sciences, and the social and behavioral sciences. Adriana plans to use her NSF GRFP award to support her examination of immigrant incorporation, particularly as it pertains to pan-ethnic identification, intra-group dynamics, and the intergenerational mobility of second-generation immigrants. Much of her research to date aims to understand the impact these factors have on access to critical resources and, ultimately, on life outcomes. At Pitzer, Adriana was a fellow with the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program, designed to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning. A first-generation college graduate, Adriana earned her BA in sociology with a minor in Chicano/a Latino/a studies.

Adriana M. Ceron '18

Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

Alfredo Valencia ’14 has been awarded a 2021 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue his postdoctoral research at Stanford University investigating chromatin—the structure of DNA and protein within the nucleus of each cell—and the chromatin regulatory mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders. Sponsored by the Ford Foundation and administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the fellowship is highly competitive; only 4-5 percent of applicants receive a Ford Fellowship each year. Through this award, Alfredo aims to merge two areas of expertise from his PhD work at Harvard and his recent postdoctoral studies in Dr. Sergiu Pasca’s laboratory at Stanford to better understand neurodevelopment and developmental disorders. He earned his PhD in chemical biology at Harvard University, where he served as a predoctoral fellow in Professor Cigall Kadoch’s laboratory, which primarily studies the chromatin-related mechanisms of cancer. In 2020, Alfredo became one of eight inaugural Stanford Science Fellows, and he began working in the laboratory of Dr. Pasca to learn methods to model human brain organogenesis using human-derived, induced pluripotent stem cells. His research with Kadoch has been published in Cell, Nature Cell Biology, and Nature Genetics, among other journals. In 2017, Alfredo received both a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Gilliam Fellowship. He majored in biochemistry at Pitzer, where he was a McNair Scholar as well as a research assistant at the W.M. Keck Science Department.  

Freddy Valencia '14

Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program

Dominic Arzadon ’23, who plans to major in environmental analysis and critical global studies, was selected for a fellowship with the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Washington. Dominic applied to the program because he is passionate about biocultural conservation. He hopes to diversify the field of conservation and ultimately work towards a conservation practice without borders. His passion for conservation and the environmental field stems from his identities and lived experiences as a first-generation college student and immigrant from a coastal community in the Philippines who grew up in Hawaii. In the future, Dominic hopes to pursue a career in natural resource management and environmental stewardship that centers coastal and island communities. The goal of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Washington is to promote biocultural conservation – a broad endeavor to preserve the integrity of communities, their interdependent members (both humans and other species), and the ecosystems in which they reside.

Dominic Arzadon ’23

Ayman Omar ’24, who plans to major in environmental analysis and organizational studies, has been selected as a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar at the University of California, Santa Cruz, during the summer of 2021. The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program exposes early-career college students to the field of environmental conservation through field research, leadership, and professional training. Ayman will spend the summer visiting different California sites in an immersive field-based course focused on collaborative research and interaction with a diversity of leaders in conservation and science. Future plans include a career in sustainability, which comes from his exposure to the works of Black environmentalists such as Wangari Maathai and seeing how negatively impacted Black communities are by environmental issues.

Davis Projects for Peace

Isabella Jacobs ’24, an anthropology and English major, has been awarded a 2021 Davis Projects for Peace grant for her project RainScales. Marrying biomimicry, architecture, and design, RainScales is a rainwater capturing device created to address inequitable water distribution in South Africa. The project’s design was inspired in part by the horned lizard, which thrives in deserts by using its interscalar skin channels to harvest rain. Isabella was inspired to design RainScales after spending time in South Africa in 2018, during a devastating drought. The project went on to be a finalist in the 2019 Cooper Hewitt National High School Design Competition. Focused on issues of equity and justice in a world of worsening climate catastrophe, Isabella is excited to continue developing RainScales and to help underserved communities gain water independence. Isabella also holds the distinction of being the first student to receive an award processed by Pitzer’s Office of Fellowships without having taken classes on campus, since her first-year experience has been totally virtual due to the pandemic. The Davis Projects for Peace program invites undergraduates from more than 90 US colleges and universities that participate in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects that promote peace. Pitzer became a Davis United World College Scholars Program partner in 2014.

Isabella Jacobs '24

Angel Sherpa ’21, a human biology major on the pre-med track, was awarded the Projects for Peace prize for summer 2020 for her project “Reusable and Eco-friendly Sanitary Pads for Dalit Women in Rural Nepal: Empowering Dalit women through innovation, skill training, and awareness.” The award was postponed due to the pandemic. She plans to carry out her project in summer 2021, if conditions allow. Angel was also selected this year as a Napier Fellow and won the 2021 Napier Award.

Napier Fellows and Award for Creative Leadership

The Napier Initiative is a partnership between Pilgrim Place and the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges that encourages leadership for social change. Each of the Claremont Colleges may nominate up to three seniors to be Napier Fellows. These students have proven leadership abilities and proposals for post-graduation projects designed to create social change. Napier Fellows are invited to submit their project proposals to be considered for a Napier Award. Pitzer senior Angel Sherpa ’21 won the 2021 Napier Award for her proposal, “Establishing a Telemedicine Program in Simiguan: Harnessing Technology to Reduce Health Disparities in Rural Nepal.”

Pitzer’s three 2020-21 Napier Fellows are:

Wilfrido Batista ’21, a human biology major, is calling for an expansion of the current mutual aid work that they credit with keeping their home community alive. Believing in the need for environmental justice and mutual aid among Black, Indigenous, disabled, queer, and other marginalized community members, Wilfrido proposed an herbal justice healing project in their home community of Harlem, New York. In partnership with WE ACT for Environmental Justice, local herbal apothecaries, and urban farms, they would expand the outreach work these organizations are doing through in-person or virtual herbal healing and herbal justice workshops.

Wilfrido Batista '21

Ray Nathan Hill-Cristol ’21, an American studies major, grew up in West Philadelphia in a collective household that is part of the Life Center Association (LCA) land trust. He proposed building a time bank system for the LCA. He believes that such a system, a form of solidarity economics, would allow participants to use time and labor, rather than money, to pay for goods or services. In collaboration with the LCA board, he would build and enhance the LCA’s organizational capacity, relationships, and sustainability. He understands that his Napier project would be directly accountable to the collective needs and mission of the LCA.

Ray Nathan Hill Cristol '21

Angel Sherpa ’21 proposed to establish a socio-culturally respectful telemedicine program in Simigaun, a remote Himalayan village in the Dolakha district of Nepal, where there is no doctor. Her proposal, “Establishing a Telemedicine Program in Simiguan: Harnessing Technology to Reduce Health Disparities in Rural Nepal,” won the 2021 Napier Award. Partnering with the National Innovation Center (NIC) and the Pitzer in Nepal Program, she will work with engineers at NIC to develop the first app in Nepal that will connect volunteer doctors in Kathmandu to patients in the village. Together with chosen healthcare professionals, Angel will then travel to Simigaun to set up the telemedicine infrastructure and to facilitate communication between patients there and physicians in Kathmandu. This work will be supported by the $15,000 Napier Award.

Benjamin L. Sievers ’22, a licensed emergency medical technician who plans to major in biology, has received awards from across the Claremont Colleges for work that addresses both immediate health crises and long-term health disparities. Last year, Ben received a Global Health Award for developing a simple, inexpensive, and non-invasive method to diagnose sickle cell disease and malaria using a cellphone and specialized machine-learning software. So far this year, Ben has received:

The 2021 Claremont Colleges Library Undergraduate Research Award (LURA) for his submission “Measles Eradication: Let’s Root Out Measles, Ring-Vaccinate Hotspots, and Eradicate this Deadly Scourge Forever,” which outlines a plan to combat measles using a novel inhalable, temperature-stable, live-attenuated dry powder measles vaccine. The LURA recognizes students who demonstrate exemplary research and scholarship, including remarkable skill and creativity in the use of library and information resources.

A Sontag Student Creativity Grant for an art project developing and imaging viruses (specifically GFP-expressing pseudoparticle viruses) that fluoresce when they infect cells. These grants, awarded by the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (the Hive), support students who need access to creative resources for their curricular work or important creative endeavors.

A Student Art, Activism, and Research Award from the Pitzer College Racial Justice Initiative (RJI) to support his efforts to make rapid, inexpensive, at-home diagnostic tests for COVID-19 directly available to those disproportionately affected by the pandemic, particularly Black and Latinx communities and incarcerated populations. The RJI awards recognize projects that focus on racial justice and create work that will be shared with, create dialogue among, and/or offer opportunities for collaboration across the Pitzer community.

A Pitzer Student Research Grant for a project to create a paper-based diagnostic test for COVID-19 at the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, CA. Ben is working to design a simple, inexpensive, over-the-counter COVID test that could be made available on a mass scale.

Benjamin Sievers

Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research

Ellie Ellis ’18, a geology major and environmental analysis minor, has been selected for a fellowship with the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), which funds up to 48 graduate students over three years using an interdisciplinary approach to career readiness. FFAR Fellows work with university and industry representatives as well as their peers to conduct urgent research and engage in professional development for the next generation of food and agriculture scientists. The FFAR Fellows Program is led by the Academic Programs Office at North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. During her senior year at Pitzer, Ellie was the recipient of a research Fulbright Fellowship to India, as well as the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for Young Professionals Fellowship

Mai Nguyen ’19, a mathematics major, was recently awarded a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for Young Professionals fellowship. CBYX is a cultural immersion fellowship program funded by the US Department of State and German Bundestag. The program gives 75 American and 75 German young professionals the opportunity to spend one year in each other’s countries, studying, interning, and living with hosts on a cultural immersion program. Mai will be participating in this program for the 2021-22 year in Germany.

Brooklyn Urban Ecology and Environment Program

Lily Fillwalk ’22, an environmental analysis (science track) and studio art double major, has been selected to participate in the Brooklyn Urban Ecology and Environment Program [BUEE] during the summer of 2021. BUEE, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, supports the training of 10 students as part of an integrative summer research program aimed at developing underrepresented undergraduate students into mature and thoughtful environmental scientists. Authentic research experiences on human-coupled natural systems are complemented by a rigorous educational program aimed at developing practical experience in research integrity, scientific communication, and quantitative literacy.

Huayu Enrichment Scholarship

Jefferson Konah ’21, a linguistics and Spanish major, has been awarded a Huayu Enrichment Scholarship to study Mandarin Chinese during summer 2021, in Taiwan. Established by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship Program (HES) encourages international students to undertake Mandarin Chinese (Huayu) courses in Taiwan in order to provide them with opportunities to increase their understanding of Taiwanese culture and society and to promote mutual understanding and interactions between Taiwan and the international community.


UC Berkeley Aim Study

O’philia Le ’23, an anthropology major and Spanish minor, has been selected to be part of the AIM Study: Airflow Improvements during Meal-prep, at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, during summer 2021. She will be contributing to research on cooking and air pollution in homes of kids with asthma. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career that combats environmental injustices and addresses health disparities in ethnic populations.


Lingnan University Visiting English Tutor Program

Linda Huang ’21, an Asian American studies major, has been selected to teach English and plan social and cultural events at Lingnan University in Hong Kong as part of their Visiting English Tutor (VET) program during the 2021-22 academic year. A major objective of the Visiting English Tutor scheme is to provide opportunities for Lingnan University’s local students to mix with people of a similar age group but from different cultural backgrounds.


Digital Writing Workshop for a Socially Engaged Art Practice

Linda Huang ’21, an Asian American studies major, has been selected to participate in a Digital Writing Workshop for a Socially Engaged Art Practice led by Muriel Leung, who is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Humanities in a Digital World fellow at the University of Southern California, during summer 2021. Participants will learn about the history and capabilities of various digital tools to gain a broad sense of how digital technology permeates their lives and how they can use these tools to interpret the world around them.

Katherine Lin ’24, who plans to major in media studies with a minor in Asian American studies, has been selected to participate in a Digital Writing Workshop for a Socially Engaged Art Practice led by Muriel Leung, who is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Humanities in a Digital World fellow at the University of Southern California, during summer 2021. Participants will learn about the history and capabilities of various digital tools to gain a broad sense of how digital technology permeates their lives and how they can use these tools to interpret the world around them. Katherine hopes to use the skills obtained in this course towards future endeavors such as facilitating digital engagement for nonprofits that empower marginalized communities.

About Pitzer College

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