Alumni Fellowships

Every spring, Pitzer alumni send the College word about post-Pitzer fellowships and the remarkable things these graduates plan to do with them. These awards are windows—through them, we catch a glimpse of our graduates’ lives, achievements, and the way the education they gained around the Mounds shapes the landscape of the rest of their lives. Here are a few windows; for more, please visit Pitzer Students and Alumni Recognized for Academic Excellence and Innovation. With special thanks to Sandy Hamilton in Pitzer’s Office of Fellowships and Scholarships.

Adriana M. Ceron ’18, who is starting Yale University’s PhD program in sociology this fall, was awarded a five-year fellowship from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. This fellowship recognizes outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based graduate degrees in NSF-supported STEM disciplines, which include the social and behavioral sciences. A fellow at the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, Ceron studies the incorporation of Latinx immigrants in the US, examining ethnic categorization, intra-group dynamics, and socioeconomic mobility. At Pitzer, she was a fellow with the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, which aims to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning. A first-generation college graduate, Ceron is passionate about issues related to educational access. She earned her BA in sociology with a minor in Chicano/a Latino/a studies.

Sam Horowitz ’20 was named a 2020–21 Kerry Fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University, where he is a master of environmental management candidate at the Yale School of the Environment. As a fellow, Horowitz works with former Secretary of State and now Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and his team on key projects for the Kerry Initiative. The interdisciplinary initiative tackles urgent global challenges through teaching, research, and international dialogue. Selected on the basis of outstanding academic achievement, Kerry Fellows tackle issues ranging from climate change to extremism. Horowitz specializes in environmental policy analysis.

Mai Nguyen ’19 is one of 75 Americans selected to receive a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for Young Professionals fellowship in Germany. CBYX is a joint program of the US Congress and the German Bundestag (Parliament), which is administered through a cooperative agreement with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 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 host families in a cultural immersion program. In Germany, Nguyen will take a two-month intensive language course before studying at a German university and undertaking an internship in software engineering. Nguyen’s cohort left for Germany at the end of July and plans to return to the US in June 2022.

Gabriela Ornelas ’17 will be starting her first year at Columbia Law School this fall and is one of only two incoming students to be awarded the law school’s Public Interest Fellowship. Ornelas has been working as an investigator with the Habeas Corpus Resource Center in San Francisco, which represents indigent men and women under sentence of death in California. Each year, Columbia Law School awards the prestigious fellowship to a small number of first-year law students who are committed to serving the public interest. Fellows receive full tuition for three years and partner with a faculty mentor in their field of interest. At Pitzer, Ornelas was one of the first two Pitzer students to be selected as Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program fellows. She was also a resident assistant and a member of Pitzer’s Latino Student Union. She interned at the Claremont Colleges’ Office of Chicano Latino Student Affairs and helped establish Pitzer’s FirstGen program, working as a research assistant with Professor Roberta Espinoza.

Alfredo Valencia ’14, who earned his PhD in chemical biology at Harvard University and is conducting postdoctoral research at Stanford University, was awarded a 2021 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. Sponsored by the Ford Foundation and administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the fellowship is highly competitive—only 4 to 5 percent of applicants receive a Ford Fellowship each year. This is Valencia’s second award from the Ford Foundation—he received a predoctoral fellowship in 2017, the same year he was selected for a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Gilliam Fellowship. With the fellowship, Valencia will continue his research of chromatin—the structure of DNA and protein within the nucleus of each cell—and the chromatin regulatory mechanisms that underlie neurodevelopmental disorders. Valencia aims to better understand neurodevelopment and developmental disorders, merging the knowledge and experience he gained through his PhD work at Harvard with Professor Cigall Kadoch and his current research at Stanford in Professor Sergiu Pasca’s laboratory. He began working in Pasca’s lab in 2020 as one of eight inaugural Stanford Science Fellows. A biochemistry major at Pitzer, Valencia was a McNair Scholar and a research assistant at the W.M. Keck Science Department during his undergraduate years.