Contact Us
Vanessa Christman, Assistant Dean of the College
for Access and Community Development
MMUF Administrative Coordinator
The Pensby Center
(610) 526-6594
Bethany Schneider, Associate Professor of English
MMUF Faculty Coordinator
(610) 526-5051
Jennifer Walters, Dean of the Undergraduate College
MMUF Advisor
(610) 526-5375

Mary Zaborskis
University of Pennsylvania Doctoral Student
MMUF Graduate Coordinator

2009-2010 Fellows



Terah EdunTerah Edun '10 is a Political Science Major with a minor in International Studies. Her mentors are Sooyong Kim and Kalala Ngalamulume. Terah is interested in the study of Arab-African relations. in North Africa. She is studying the historical roots of African slavery in Arab civilizations and how this background affects the ‘politics of naming’ prevalent in the region. From the beginning of summer 2008 until the end of fall 2008 she lived for seven months in Morocco to pursue classical Arabic and North African studies. During that time she also interned with the America-Middle East Educational Training Services, a non-profit organization in the capital city of Rabat that works to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and the people of the Middle East and North Africa.

Azsherae Gary ‘11 is a Sociology major with a concentration in African American Studies. Her mentor is Mary Osirim. Azsherae is interested in learning about different and effective approaches for reaching African American boys. More specifically she is interested in how young black boys understand their worlds.  By focusing on strategies (academic and social) that work within a particular organization, she hopes to use her research on a mentoring organization in Philadelphia as a template that better understands the success of young black men and how we can better help them. Her project currently seeks to answer the following question what social practices and components within a local community organization influence high school graduation rates for black boys? This summer Azsherae participated in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Training Program at the University of Chicago.

Nicole Gervasio Nicole Gervasio '10 is a double major in English and Growth and Structure of Cities with a concentration in creative writing. Her mentor is Kate Thomas.  For her project, she analyzes queer characters in African literature, particularly paying attention to whether marginalization and oppression can serve as sites for social transformation.  In other words, how do the margins of society parallel or intersect with those of the literary page?  She hopes to re-envision characters in non-Western literatures as survivors rather than victims of injustice.  Her project will culminate in an English thesis that reconsiders the boundaries of national, racial, (post)colonial and sexual identity in Dambudzo Marechera's "Black Sunlight."

Augusta IreleAugusta Irele '10
Major: French and Francophone Studies
Minor: Africana Studies
Mentor: Pim Higginson
Project Description: My project is an observation of the Francophone African immigrant in Paris. My project approaches the subject through two sectors. The first is the literary aspect. I am reading the literature that these immigrants are producing and noting and observing the manners through which they describe and portray their experiences. The second part of my project is a comparison of the literature with the realities of immigrant life in Paris. I am doing this through interviews with different people in all different communities in Paris to see if their realities are actually true
to the portrayals in the literature.

Rodline Louijeune '11

Felicia Meekins Felicia Meekins '11 is a Growth and Structure of Cities major.  Her summer project focused on city planning and low income families.  She is interested in the socioeconomic conditions of low-income families; primarily, how neighborhood initiatives create stability for families and rebuild strong communities. This past summer, Felicia had an internship at a non-profit organization in Philadelphia, achieveAbility, whose mission is to permanently break the cycle of poverty for single parent, low-income families, many formerly homeless, by providing a range of support services including: education, job readiness, and housing assistance. Working with the staff, Felicia helped achieveAbility to establish a comprehensive financial literacy program for their clients.  In addition to following the progress of the financial literacy program,  she explored the problems with financial literacy and homeownership for families in poverty and its relationship to the economic growth of the city.  Her research will also include how different cities reach a successful intersection of grassroots organization and top-down planning.   Her mentor is Gary McDonogh.

Lilian Mengesha Lilian Mengesha '10 Lilian Mengesha is an English Major and a Political Science minor. Her mentor is Michael Tratner. Her Mellon research is focused on the relationship between marginalized communities and cultural performance. Particularly, she is investigating the practices and strategies in which artists' manipulate  space, perform their identities and create art as a response to an ever present history of cultural and racial violence.   This past summer and semester, she conducted interviews with local township theater initiatives in Cape Town, South Africa. In the upcoming years, she hopes to work with and learn from scholars and performers, such as Coco Fusco and Homi Bhabha, who have influenced much of her research. 


Jennifer Pierre Jennifer Pierre ’11 is a Political Science Major at Bryn Mawr College. Her two mentors, Professor Michael Allen and Professor Kalala Ngalamulume, will assist her in analyzing as well as dissecting the role of the United Nations in post conflict societies. More specifically, she hopes to identify the UN’s role as being either advantageous or detrimental to these countries, and predict the UN’s role in future or current conflicts such as those taking place in Darfur or the DRC. Since she is a new Mellon, she has not yet narrowed down her broad subject to particular case studies. This summer, during her internship with the United States Mission to the United Nations, she hopes to accomplish this task while also acquiring foundational information about the UN and its peacekeeping missions. In future summers, Jennifer hopes to participate in research programs that would allow her to focus exclusively on her research topic alongside professors in her field.

Katherine Sepulveda, '11
As philosophy major, I am excited to participate a search for knowledge through asking and seeking to find answers to questions about humanity and its place in the world. I am interested in the interaction of the self in the world and hope to pursue (and to narrow!) my interest through studying Heidegger, a 20th century continental philosopher. Heidegger portrayed Being as an action rather than as a static entity and used his background in the history of philosophy and thought from his primary teacher, Husserl, to promote a new understanding of Being and its place in time. In my project, I will explore the potential Heidegger's thought offers to develop a historically influenced understanding of the self's place in the world, an understanding which also remains adaptable to the changes which will shape our development and pursuit of knowledge both today and in the future. This past summer, I focused on background reading--Augustine, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche--and in the fall, I look forward to directly concentrating on Heidegger with my mentor, Professor Robert Dostal. I also delight in listening to other ideas and in hearing about other disciplines. If you, the reader of this little blurb, would ever like to find out more about my project or to share a thought, feel free to drop me a line at: .