Season of Achievements: 2023–24 Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards

From studying repatriated artifacts in Turkey to investigating solar irrigation efficiency in Sri Lanka, Pitzer students and alumni are excelling as scholars in action. Their work has earned a multitude of awards, grants, and fellowships during the 2023–24 academic year.

To date, 11 students and alumni have been awarded Fulbright Fellowships to teach English or pursue self-designed research projects around the globe. One Fulbright Fellow has also received the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to explore mushrooms through climate resilience, cuisine, and urban design.

Three students have been selected for the Projects for Peace Award, while one of them also has earned the Napier Award to develop agroforestry gardens as living libraries in Ghana. Six students have accepted Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships, which seek to increase diversity in the ranks of institutions of higher learning. One student is among the third cohort of the Benton Museum’s AllPaper Seminar.

Two students have received curatorial apprenticeships, one student has joined the Capital Fellows Program, and one student has achieved a scholarship for law school. One student has joined McLean Hospital’s Post-Baccalaureate Clinical Fellowship Program. Another student has received the Newman Civic Fellowship for her environmental advocacy and civic engagement.

One student has studied abroad in Costa Rica with support from the Gilman Scholarship. Another became the first Pitzer student to receive the Pickering Fellowship to start a foreign service career. The Claremont Colleges Library also gave a prize for a group research project about microbes in the Salton Sea. Pomona College awarded a prize to a student for outstanding work in linguistics. One student received the Margo Okazawa-Rey Fellowship to make a film. A recent alum is pursuing a PhD through the National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program.

The following offers an overview of some of this year’s recipients.

AllPaper Seminar

The AllPaper Seminar at the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College is possible with support from the Tavolozza Foundation and the Getty’s Paper Project initiative. Fellows learn about the stewardship of works on paper in a two-part program.

Diego Borgsdorf Fuenzalida ’24, an anthropology and Spanish major, is part of the third cohort of AllPaper Seminar fellows. He is a Chilean-American experimental museum ethnographer. His research weaves together experimental ethnography and textile art to represent the affective challenges of exhibiting violent pasts in Chilean memorial museums. He has worked at LACE, the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, and the NPS.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

The U.S. Department of State’s Gilman Scholarship enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad.

Zhané Moledina ’25 has received the Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in the Pitzer in Costa Rica program. Moledina is majoring in political studies and organizational studies with a minor in Spanish. While in Costa Rica, she advanced her Spanish language skills, stayed with a host family, and studied in San José and Pitzer’s Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology.

“These experiences … promote both my professional and personal development by empowering me to surpass my limits, explore new horizons, and forge meaningful connections,” said Moledina.

Benjamin Godsill ’00 and Anna Burns Student Apprenticeship Award

Available to first-generation and students of color, this award provides in-depth curatorial apprenticeships with the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) and Fulcrum Arts.  

Licheng She ’25 is a media studies major and has pursued a variety of internships in entertainment—including IMAX. She is fascinated by “how the intersection of media, art, photography, cinematography, sound design, and theater can create new and engaging forms of immersive art.” She will join Fulcrum Arts in the fall for her apprenticeship. 

Corrine Waters ’26 is an art history major and an emerging museum professional. Her research interests include street photography and quotidian life within the Black/African American diaspora. Before joining LACE for her apprenticeship this spring, Waters worked as a curatorial/exhibitions intern at the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College. 

Waters also received the Office of Black Student Affairs’ conference and research grant to attend the Black Art Symposium at the African American Art & Culture Complex.

Read more about the Benjamin Godsill ’00 and Anna Burns Student Apprenticeship Award recipients.

Capital Fellows Program

The Capital Fellows Programs are nationally recognized public policy fellowships that offer experiences in California’s state government. Judicial Fellows work in superior courts and Judicial Council offices across California in court administration.

Headshot of Alaina Neuburger. Neuburger has shoulder-length wavy brown hear and wears a blue and white patterned dress.

Alaina Neuburger ’24 was selected for the 2024 Judicial Fellowship under the Capital Fellows Program. A double major in economics and public policy, Neuburger brings diverse experiences in government and community initiatives to the fellowship. Her placement is in the business management office of the Judicial Council in San Francisco. After the fellowship, Neuburger plans to pursue a career in law and constitutional litigation.

Read more about Neuburger’s Judicial Fellowship in the Capital Fellows Program.

The Claremont Colleges Library Undergraduate Research Award (LURA)

The LURA recognizes students who demonstrate exemplary original research and scholarship, including remarkable skill and creativity in the use of library and information resources.

How does rising salinity in the Salton Sea affect microbial communities? Bertha M. Posada Villanueva ’26, Daniel Bonilla ’25, Sophia Lore ’25, and McKayla Khatija Proulx PO’25 collaborated to learn what this question means for climate change. The result was the research paper “Halophilic Diversity in the Salton Sea: Identifying Resiliency and Abundance in Extremophiles Across Salt Gradients.”

Their work earned $1,500 for the group category for the 11th Annual Library Undergraduate Research Awards. Integrated Science Lab Director Jason Tor was the group’s faculty sponsor.

Emery | Reddy, PLLC Scholarship

The Seattle law firm Emery | Reddy, PLLC offers annual scholarships to law school and college undergraduate students.

Kayla Mathurin ’24, an international political economy major, has received $1,000 for the General Studies Scholarship. Mathurin begins pursuing her JD at Columbia Law School this fall. She hopes to apply to the dual degree program with Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneUniversity so that she can practice law in France and America. Her interests include international/comparative law and corporate, business, and transactional law. She is also a co-founder of the Pitzer Law Society.

“My journey at Pitzer has been nothing short of extraordinary, and I extend heartfelt thanks to every friend, classmate, and professor who supported me along the way,” said Mathurin.

Fulbright Fellowship

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

Neha Basu ’24, a psychology and sociology double major, will conduct research in India for her project. Basu will examine street food vendors’ interactions with the law and what the local vending landscape reveals about public space, culture, and economics. This project builds on her work with street-vending communities as a CASA Pitzer Research Fellow with the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice.

Sahar Dabirian ’24, a public health major and Spanish minor, will teach English in the La Rioja region of Spain. A child of Muslim immigrants, Dabirian intends to provide representation of the “insider outsider” cultural experience while utilizing her multilinguistic background in English, Spanish, and Persian to celebrate diversity in the curricula.

Ava Francis-Hall ’24, a political studies major and economics minor, will conduct the study, “Politics of Care: Life for Returnee Migrants with Chronic Kidney Disease.” The project will investigate the economic and social conditions of returnee Nepali migrant laborers from Malaysia and Gulf countries diagnosed with kidney disease. The project is informed by her time in Nepal with Pitzer’s study abroad program.

Erica Hjelle ’24, a psychology major and religious studies minor, will teach English in Laos. Hjelle has been influenced by coursework in East and Southeast Asian religion and by her immersive cultural and English teaching experience in Pitzer’s Nepal study abroad program. In addition to teaching English in Laotian schools, Hjelle will organize language and cross-cultural activities by applying an individuality-focused pedagogy.

Skylar Masuda ’24, a classics and human-centered design double major, will conduct research in Turkey. Masuda plans to work with the Turkey Design Council on an interdisciplinary analysis of the display and community impact of repatriated artifacts. Masuda will pull together stories of returned artifacts, their role in these museums, and their community reception. Masuda has studied ancient Greek and is studying Turkish to enhance her cultural engagement.

Elizabeth (Ellie) Montoro ’24, a major in philosophy, politics, and economics, will conduct research in Italy. Her project examines how current Italian maritime policies related to mass migration in the Mediterranean impact NGO rescue vessels, volunteers, migrants, and Southern Italian residents. Her experiences with the U.S. Coast Guard and Centro Immigrazione Asilo Cooperazione Onlus in Parma have given her insight on international maritime law and migration.

Lauren Robles ’24, a political studies major and Chicanx Latinx studies minor, will teach English in Taiwan. Robles’ interest in teaching stems from her deep passion for learning as well as her positionality and experience working with students of diverse ethnic and learning backgrounds. Robles has an interest in learning Mandarin while being immersed in local Taiwanese culture.

Laila Scarborough-Scharf ’23, a critical global studies major and media studies minor, will teach English in the Canary Islands. Having previously studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain, Scarborough-Scharf brings to her English Teaching Assistantship substantial country knowledge and experience in writing, tutoring, and teaching English to Spanish-speaking students. She is eager to incorporate media arts in the classroom.

Tommy Shenoi ’24, a double major in food and agricultural studies and environmental analysis, has been granted the Fulbright/Casten Family Foundation Award for a master’s degree in world food studies at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. Shenoi’s project proposes to research the effects of climate change on Italian fungi and contextualize the influence of the Slow Food Movement.

Sarah Snyder ’24, an environmental analysis and organizational studies double major, will teach English in Timor-Leste. A participant in Pitzer’s study abroad program, she has lived with host families in Tanzania and South Africa. In Timor-Leste, Snyder will engage in a cultural exchange with her students and volunteer at UmaAmerika.

Robert (Bobby) Stitt ’22, a double major in economics and environmental analysis with a minor in studio art, will conduct research in Sri Lanka. Stitt will address energy efficiency issues in solar irrigation systems with the aim of empowering farmers, optimizing equipment manufacturing, and aligning government subsidies with efficiency goals.

Read more about our Fulbright recipients.

Glass Linguistics Prize

Pomona College’s prize for an outstanding student in linguistics. Endowed by Pitzer Emeritus Professor Stephen L. Glass PO’57, Sandra A. Glass PO’57, and their son, Michael S. Glass PO’79.

Vitor Lacerda Siqueira ’24, a linguistics major and Spanish minor, has received the Glass Linguistics Prize. One student is selected for this award each year. Lacerda Siqueira has worked as a research assistant at the Phonetics and Phonology Lab at Harvard University. In this role, he studied cross-linguistic patterns and the timing of speech and co-speech gesture.

Lacerda Siqueira has also been chosen for Sigma Delta Pi, National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society. Founded in 1919, Sigma Delta Pi recognizes academic excellence in the study of Spanish language, literature, and culture. 

Margo Okazawa-Rey (MOR) Fellowship

Offered by Pitzer’s Community Engagement Center and the Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies, the MOR Fellowship encourages students to implement community-based projects with an emphasis on Asian American and Pacific Islander studies. 

Daisy Okazaki has wavy black hair pulled back and wears hoop earrings and a gray T-shirt. Okazaki stands in front of a stone wall with a tree behind it.

Since childhood, Daisy Okazaki ’25 has told stories informed by their experience as an Asian American. Okazaki received support from the MOR Fellowship to produce a film. The film features members of Banteay Srei, which promotes community and leadership development for young Southeast Asian women. Okazaki is a media studies major and Asian American studies minor. Read more about Okazaki’s MOR Fellowship.

McLean Hospital Post-Baccalaureate Child and Adolescent Clinical Fellowship Program

The Simches Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital offers a two-year Post-Baccalaureate Clinical Fellowship Program for college graduates interested in a mental health career. 

A psychology major and economics minor, Daniella Levy ’24 is interested in a career in counseling. Levy will be working in McLean’s adolescent dialectical behavior therapy programs, 3East DBT. She looks forward to expanding her knowledge in clinical psychology and connecting with mentors and peers in the program. Levy is grateful to Professor Marcus Rodriguez and McLean Hospital Director of Training and Staff Development Fairlee C. Fabrett for their support.

“I am immensely grateful for the experiences and great support at Pitzer that have pushed me to achieve many successes,” said Levy.

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF)

The MMUF program is the centerpiece of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase diversity in the ranks of institutions of higher learning.

Pitzer’s recipients for 2024 fellowships are Chi Adi ’25, Feven Aklilu ’26, Ben Ma ’26, Diane Orozco ’26, Luna Romero ’26, and Chase Wade ’26.

Napier Award

The Napier Initiative is a partnership between the local Pilgrim Place senior community and The Claremont Colleges to recognize graduating seniors committed to social justice. Napier Fellows submit their project proposals to be considered for a Napier Award.

Taeya Boi-Doku ’24 has shoulder-length black hair locs and wears brown hoop earrings and a blue and green top.

Taeya Boi-Doku ’24, an environmental analysis major, has received $20,000 to develop gardens as living libraries in Ghana. She is integrating Afroecology, hands-on learning, and sustainable food growth in partnership with the Asaase Yaa Eco-Village and Call To Nature Heirloom Seeds.

“I want all my gardens … to be publicly accessible and partner with other organizations in the region working toward the same goals of re-indigenizing the Ghanaian food system and re-introducing indigenous agriculture practices and technologies,” said Boi-Doku.

Read about Boi-Doku’s Napier Award.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Oxford-Cambridge (OxCam) Scholars Program

The NIH OxCam Scholars Program is an accelerated doctoral training program for outstanding students committed to biomedical research careers. Students can complete the doctoral degree in about four years.

Benjamin Sievers ’22 is pursuing a PhD at the University of Cambridge for the NIH OxCam program. Sievers will partner with an NIH lab and a Cambridge lab for a collaborative dissertation project. The program enables Sievers to continue his virology research and medical explorations. As a 2022–23 Fulbright Fellow, Sievers researched attitudes toward measles vaccination in remote Cambodian villages.

“I am immensely grateful for the support and guidance I have received during my time at Pitzer College, which has played a significant role in shaping my academic pursuits and preparing me for this next chapter,” said Sievers.

Newman Civic Fellowship

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a yearlong program that recognizes students for their leadership potential and creating positive change. Fellows are selected by Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities.

Sami Gottsegen ’25, an organizational studies major, is passionate about addressing environmental issues with an interdisciplinary, community-based approach. 

“Growing up in Northern California, I personally experienced the existential threat of climate change and saw the necessity of simultaneous legislative and grassroots action,” said Gottsegen.

As an intern at the California Department of Water Resources Office of the Tribal Policy Advisor, Gottsegen introduced government officials to the Rights of Nature as a legal framework that gives ecosystems representation in court. Gottsegen has also combined civic engagement and climate justice as a program assistant for The People’s Pitzer at the Community Engagement Center and a fellow at the Warehouse Workers Resource Center.

Projects for Peace

The Projects for Peace program invites undergraduates from colleges and universities that participate in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects that promote peace.

Taeya Boi-Doku ’24 has shoulder-length black hair locs and wears brown hoop earrings and a blue and green top.

Taeya Boi-Doku ’24 has received $10,000 for her Afroecology work in Ghana. Boi-Doku’s project, “Reclaiming Afroecology: Indigenous Technology and Food Sovereignty,” seeks to revive traditional knowledge about Ghanaian indigenous foods by creating four agroforestry gardens. In addition to partnering with the Asaase Yaa Eco-Village, Boi-Doku will advance the project on her own land in Abokobi.

Jansikwe Medina-Tayac ’25 and Alexander Rodriguez ’24 have also received $10,000. Their project, “The Mama Ceiba Peace Project,” seeks to record oral histories that document the formation of women’s indigenous identities and culture throughout the Dominican Republic. The project is named for the Ceiba Tree, an important aspect of Taíno mythologies.

Read more about the 2024 Projects for Peace recipients.

Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship is a one-year $40,000 grant for purposeful, independent exploration outside the U.S.

Tommy Shenoi holds up a large native oyster mushroom while standing in a lab. Shenoi has medium-length black hair and wears a backpack and a blue jacket.

Tommy Shenoi ’24 is exploring mushrooms as a key to well-being, regenerative food, and climate resilience. Shenoi’s project, “Cultivating Transformative Resilience with Global Mycology,” will take him to Italy, Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Netherlands, and Brazil. 

“I will observe the diversity of the microbial world ranging from bioluminescent mushrooms to fungi that thrive in marine environments,” said Shenoi. “I will also … explore applications of mycology relating to urban planning, culinary arts, and design.” 

Shenoi is an environmental analysis and self-designed food and agriculture studies double major. 

Read more about Shenoi’s Watson Fellowship.

Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship

Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Pickering Fellowship helps finance a two-year master’s graduate program and prepares fellows for a career in the foreign service.

Mark Perez Navarro ’24, a political studies senior, is one of 45 fellows in the Pickering Fellowship Program. Perez Navarro is the first Pitzer student to receive this fellowship. He plans to specialize in international security and U.S. foreign policy. He will enter the U.S. Foreign Service and take assignments in various embassies and consulates across regions that include Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

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