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

2010-2011 Fellows

Cohort 21:

Mia Chin

Mia Chin '12 is a Sociology Major with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies.  Mia is interested in studying tourism in Latin America, specifically focusing on the sector of volunteerism.  She will study the impacts of volunteers from places like the United States and Europe on community organizations in Latin America and communities that host and house these volunteers.  She is particularly interested in understanding the roles of women from Latin America in organizations and home-stays to see how they are specifically affected by volunteer tourism.  She hopes to highlight how tourism can give agency to women in the domestic sphere running home-stays and show how local organizations have sustainability despite the inconsistent number of/length of volunteer involvement.  This research also aims to question if volunteerism is beneficial or not and under what conditions it can be.  This summer Mia will be in Peru taking Spanish classes, volunteering and living with different families in Cuzco and Arequipa.  She plans on continuing her research in Buenos Aires when studying abroad and the following summer in another Latin American country.  In mentoring her, Professor Nathan Wright will guide her in her research.


Liana Donahue '12 is from New Orleans, LA, and is a Philosophy major and Africana Studies minor. She is interested in the idea of moral responsibility and judgment within a criminal gang. Liana’s research focuses on the Cape Coloured gang population in Cape Town, South Africa. During Liana’s junior year abroad in Cape Town, she worked at a juvenile detention center as an anger management teacher. This experience allowed her to interact firsthand with youth who were members of prominent gangs in the country. Liana’s interaction with the youth lead her to question the ways in which people from low-income, gang-ridden communities unconsciously commit immoral acts because of their environments. These thoughts led her to her main research questions: Is being a moral agent a privilege? Should people be held accountable for their actions if they were taught those actions are acceptable within their environment? Her mentor is Professor Christine Koggel.

Cristina Munoz '12 is our Mellon Associate!


Cristina S.

Cristina Smith '12 is from Richmond, Virginia, and is a Sociology Major with Concentrations in Middle Eastern Studies and Environmental Studies. She is interested in sustainable development, food politics and food security in the Levant region of the Middle East. Cristina’s research project looks specifically at Jordan by examining its food system for insight into the environmental consciousness of the individual and collective. More broadly her research seeks to answer questions about the shape of environment and society in the Middle East’s near future. Her mentor is Professor Deborah Harrold in the Department of Political Science. While conducting her research Cristina has interned with environmental organizations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Amman, Jordan.


Elena Swartz '12 is a senior from Newton, Massachusetts majoring in Growth and Structure of Cities. Her mentor is Professor Gary McDonogh. The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship has allowed Elena to pursue a variety of academic interests throughout the past two years. During her first year as a Fellow, Elena conducted independent research on environmental public health disparities in marginalized communities in Boston, Massachusetts and Cape Town, South Africa. After studying abroad at the University of Cape Town in Fall 2010, Elena began a new project researching representations of history at heritage sites in post-apartheid South Africa. In summer 2011 she carried out independent research at significant heritage sites in four different cities in South Africa to better understand the ways these sites fit into the larger context of urban spaces in the country and the ways memory is inscribed on these sites. This independent research project contributed to Elena’s senior thesis, Leaving No Stone Unturned: Examining the Role of Heritage Sites in Post-apartheid South Africa and Their Possibilities for Facilitating Socioeconomic Development and Reconciliation. In February 2011 Elena presented a paper at the MMUF Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference entitled Re-visioning Memory in the Rainbow Nation: Challenges and Critiques of Post-Apartheid Nation Building through Memorials in South Africa that will be published in the 2011 MMUF Journal. She welcomes comments and criticisms of her work.


Sana Venjara '12 is a Growth and Structure of Cities major with a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies and a minor in History of Art. Her mentors are Professors Gary McDonogh and Deborah Harrold. In the Fall of 2010, Sana was fortunate enough to study abroad at the site of her research in Cairo, Egypt. Complex opposing female realities pervade Cairo media and everyday street life. Sana’s aim is to deconstruct the multifaceted nature of Cairo Muslim women’s public image through the perspective of clothing and its resultant effects on how women navigate the city and their lifestyles. While these decisions are not directly “revolutionary,” clothing serves as a point of contestation for conscious and active resistance against social inequality when public space is renegotiated in times of social change and political opportunity. After completing her thesis this past Fall, she will be interning this semester at Next American City, an online urban magazine for a greater understanding and practical application of her Cities degree.

Cohort 20:


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? Last summer Azsherae participated in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Training Program at the University of Chicago.


Rodline Louijeune '11 Rodline is a French and Francophone Studies major as well as Mathematics and Africana Studies minors. In her project, Rodline is examining mbalax, the Senegalese form of popular music, in the World Music marketplace. Her interests lie in issues confronted by the postcolonial self and the construction of transnational spaces. She is using the mbalax singer, Youssou N’Dour as a case study and examining the way he as an artist is portrayed in World Music. She will also investigate how World Music emerged as a musical genre and the limitations of creating such a space within popular music. Her mentor is Pim Higginson in the French Department.

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.

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: .