Past Pensby Fellows

2021 Pensby  Fellows

Estefania leaning on a low wall with art in the background.
Estefania Torres

Estefania Torres is an Environmental Studies major from Houston, Texas. She works as a Student Representative on the Posse Advisory Council and as Assistant Seamstress in the Theater Department. As someone who has many loved ones who are a part of the Undocumented+* community, they became the inspiration behind the focus of her project.

The project, called The Dream Center, revolves around creating more accessible resources and creating supportive project plans for the future Undocumented+ Bryn Mawr community. Many college students who are a part of the community are often left out from academic or future-career boosting opportunities due to their status in the US. These barriers are often overlooked on college campuses, as it is difficult to voice out these concerns due to fear in compromising their status. However, Estefania will be working to continue to advocate for the Undocumented+ community by researching what resources are available and building a more inclusive campus for the Undocumented+ community at Bryn Mawr.
*Undocumented+: Term utilized in this project to encompass Undocumented/
DACAmented/Mixed Status individuals.

 


Amell Garrison

 

Amell Garrison is senior sociology major, with an independent major in dance and a minor in Africana studies. They are the current president of AJOYO Dance and member of Rhythm N Motion! Amell’s experience during the 2020 Strike is what inspired their summer project. The strike made Amell question why change is so slow moving at Bryn Mawr. After a summer of research, they were able to answer this question, by creating a comparative timeline that highlights the global social, political, and economic shifts that ultimately urged Bryn Mawr administration to foster change within the college. The timeline addresses the learning, accountability, and social shifts administration has yet to accomplish.

 

 


2020-2021 Pensby Fellows

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Reyna Gareipy is a senior Psychology major and Neuroscience minor from Phoenix, Arizona. She works as a Community Diversity Assistant (will serve as the CO-Head this year), Bryn Mawr Tour Guide and research assistant in a psychology lab. First-generation students make up a low percentage of the student body at Bryn Mawr College and while there are programs in place to help them succeed, they are often lost the minute they step on to campus. They struggle both academically and socially trying to fit into an environment that was not made for them to succeed. As a first-generation student herself, Reyna has faced challenges that her continuing-generation students haven’t leading her to feel stressed and isolated from her peers. Reyna hopes to use this project to uncover a first-generation students’ experience at the college to be able to share their stories with their fellow classmates and professors to assist administration to improve existing programs and create new ones.

 

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Anderson Witiak is an Environmental Studies major and Sociology minor from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Anderson is a junior at the College, and he works as a supervisor in New Dorm Dining Hall, as a Community Diversity Assistant, and as a THRIVE mentor. He also serves on the Honor Board. As a trans man at a historically women’s college, Anderson has often felt lost, othered, and misunderstood by members of his community. For those reasons, he has decided to use his Pensby fellowship to connect with and document oral histories from trans men/transmasculine people who have graduated from Bryn Mawr. Very little is known about the growing presence of trans men/transmasculine students on campus, and it is rarely addressed, so Anderson wants to unearth the histories of trans men/transmasculine students at the College, collect their experiences, both positive and negative, and pinpoint areas in which the College and the community can grow in order to improve the experiences of trans men/transmasculine people as students and as lifelong Bryn Mawr College community members. Ultimately, Anderson hopes that his project will give trans men/transmasculine students in the community the recognition they deserve, educate cisgender students, alumni, faculty, and staff, and illuminate areas for potential development within Bryn Mawr’s programs, initiatives, and goals.

 

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Lila Hernandez will be exploring the challenges that face Posse scholars on Bryn Mawr's campus. Posse is a full tuition leadership scholarship awarded to 20 students each year at BMC, half of these students come from the greater Boston area and the other half come from the greater Houston area. A "posse" is a group of 10 students meant to support each other through the college experience. Posse scholars come from a wide range of backgrounds, and therefore have a unique experience at Bryn Mawr. Many have expressed a lack of support on campus. Lila will be interviewing BMC Posse Scholars to learn more about their experiences, and find ways to better support these students. With her efforts, she hopes to become a voice for the Posse community and an outlet to help these students fit into the Bryn Mawr community. This summer's research findings will provide valuable information pertaining to how Posse students feel about their position at Bryn Mawr and how the community can help these students feel included. Lila's research will contribute to creating a more inclusive community at Bryn Mawr College, bringing together and celebrating the Posse Scholar community on campus.  

 

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Yesenia Mendez Pacheco is a Economics and Spanish major with a minor in Latin American, Iberian, and Latina/o Studies. Unafraid. Unapologetic. Undocumented. Students across the nation affected by immigration policies have been mentally, emotionally and financially struggling to achieve their dreams. Yesenia has witnessed first-hand how challenging it is to obtain institutional help on campus. For this reason, she plans on creating a guide specifically for Bryn Mawr College to map out the development of programming for DACAmented and undocumented students. This project will not only visualize this group of students, it will also create a concrete way to institutionalize programming for affected students in order to create a more diverse and inclusive community at Bryn Mawr College. Yesenia's research will focus on four deliverables (1) research UndocuAlly Trainings that have been successfully implemented in other institutions of higher education (2) develop recommendations on how to conduct targeted & protected outreach and data collection (3) research the creation of campus scholarships and grants for undocumented Students (4) develop a plan and research best practices to advocate for a dedicated undocumented student space. With the Pensby Center Fellowship and with all the passion and dedication Yesenia has for this cause, she hopes that this project has long-lasting benefits for the migrant community on campus.

2019-2020 Pensby Fellows

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Alexis Giron '20 is a senior Psychology major, Neuroscience minor on the Premedicine track from Houston, TX. She is a member of the Houston POSSE 4 and has taken up leadership roles in Dorm Leadership Team, THRIVE, Mujeres*, The Night Owls, Bryn Mawr College Dining Services, and Admissions. As a student of color with various intersectional identities, Alexis took interest in the mental health needs of queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) at Bryn Mawr College. In her research, Alexis hopes to survey and interview students with double-minority identities about their experiences with mental health supports, including those at BMC. Her experience navigating the process of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) highlighted its inaccessibility for those who do not normally enter into the process and for topics like hers. While spending months revising the application for approval to continue to conduct the desired research (and now adding to her project the goal of creating a template to help others navigate the IRB process), Alexis has been researching resources for QTPOC and creating a website, using it to share those resources and to educate allies. She hopes that her project will ultimately help BMC Counseling Services to create more inclusive spaces for all students, with the ability to maintain a proactive space for QTPOC, as well as give them easy access to essential mental health resources.Alexis can be contacted at agiron@brynmawr.edu.

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Caitlin Haskett '20 is a psychology major who has been a member of the Bryn Mawr College Hillel Executive Board for the last two years. In the spring of 2019, Caitlin organized an event with Hillel and the College Archive where students explored the college's archive materials that detail the experiences of Jewish Bryn Mawr students. This event made evident how little institutional knowledge Bryn Mawr has about its Jewish students. As a Jewish student attending Bryn Mawr during this time when we are grappling with our history, Caitlin felt it was important to work to fill this gap in our institutional knowledge. With her Pensby fellowship this summer, Caitlin has recorded oral histories of 8 Alumnae who were on campus from 1938 to 1958. These histories shed new light on the experiences of Jewish Marwtyrs in the period during and after WWII. They expose Bryn Mawr’s subtle antisemitism and rampant classism with details that have not been previously fully documented and understood. However, they also reveal the positive impact Bryn Mawr has had on some of the alumnae affected by these very same issues. These oral histories show the complexity of Bryn Mawr. They show how far we have come and also how little things have changed. Bryn Mawr continues to become more diverse and inclusive; however, many of the stories of discrimination Caitlin has recorded still ring true for students today.

 

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Sam Taveras '20 is an English and Religion major from Rocky Point, New York. After dropping out of the College, he returned largely because of the community he had found. Through conversation with peers he became interested in identity and what could be done at Bryn Mawr and beyond for the communities that allowed him to exist. For his project he will be interviewing Bryn Mawr students both past and present who identify as first- and second-generation Americans as well as LGBTQ. He hopes that this will bring this community closer together at the College and alleviate the alienation often felt by these groups, as well as provide an archive of these students’ times at the College. 

2018-2019 Pensby Fellows

 

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Namrata Basu '19 is a Math major, a senior from Mumbai, India. Through her time at Bryn Mawr as a student, a DLT (dorm leadership team) member, and in other spheres, she interacted with students from different backgrounds, places, and cultures. That got her interested in the support the college provides for different groups of people. Being an international student, she was interested in doing research about the experience of international students and alumnae, especially with career and professional development. She will be surveying the international community on campus and the alumnae community across the globe. She hopes this research will help the college to continue their work in supporting international students as well as to improve their efforts.

 

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Jada Ceasar '20 is a Psychology major and Biology minor from Houston, Texas. Jada is currently involved with the Enid Cook ’31 Center, History Working Group, Oral History Project, POSSE, and is the Co-President for the Class of 2020.  As a first year, Jada became very interested in the Black at Bryn Mawr Project and the experiences of Black people at Bryn Mawr. As a Black woman, Jada saw the importance of not only knowing the history of Black women* in higher education but their experiences. This summer she will be researching the ways that peer institutions have sustained projects similar to Black at Bryn Mawr. As part of this research, Jada will also interview individuals who were influential in starting and sustaining projects similar to Black at Bryn Mawr. She will use her research to propose ways that Bryn Mawr College could support and institutionalize the Black at Bryn Mawr Project. She hopes that her work will complement the development of Black at Bryn Mawr and shine a light on how institutions can bring magnification to the Black presence as opposed to its erasure.

2017–18 Pensby Fellows

 

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Yeidaly Mejia '19 is a sociology major and an education minor. Throughout her first two years, Yeidaly was intrigued by higher education, the college application process, and the ingrained inequalities in these processes and systems. As a first generation college student herself, she wanted to research what support systems, if any, private, small liberal arts colleges were offering their first generation students. Yeidaly will be diving into this question in a multitude of ways. She will be conducting interviews with first generation alumni of Bryn Mawr College and the Haverford Horizons program. She will also interview representatives of first generation programs at small liberal arts colleges similar to Bryn Mawr along with current undergraduates at similar institutions. Yeidaly hopes that this research will complement the development of a first generation institutionalized program at Bryn Mawr College, called “Breaking Barriers.” Breaking Barriers will potentially consist of weekly meetings with first generation students from the Class of 2021, monthly workshops on topics relevant to first generation students, and will provide a mentor for each first generation student enrolled in Breaking Barriers.

 

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Jwahir Sundai '19 is from Cambridge, Mass. She is currently the National Director/Founder of the mentoring program E^3: Empowering, Encouraging, and Eliminating Barriers which is entering its sixth year as an organization. She is also apart of Boston Posse STEM 3 and Minorities in STEM. This summer, she will be conducting an oral history project involving STEM alumni of color. While closely collaborating with Special Collections, she plans to curate an exhibit centered on opening up a platform for discussing the lived experiences of Bryn Mawr students. This will be executed by highlighting underrepresented narratives while taking into account the multiple marginalized intersecting identities of alumni. Overall, the entirety of this project is focused on promoting diversity particularly in the high-need area of STEM fields, ensuring retention and inclusion, and developing Bryn Mawr as a space for empowerment for underrepresented students. 

2016–17 Pensby Fellows

 

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Amaka Eze '19 is a philosophy major. Throughout her first year, she found herself immediately drawn to the discipline of Philosophy, and more specifically, the convergence of Africana Studies and Philosophy. Over the course of the summer, Amaka is using the online, bibliographic tool, Zotero, to create and curate a library of texts, all pertaining to the Black Liberation Movement. In doing so, she hopes to complicate the very foundational notions of racial inequity and the black freedom struggle. From this body of work, community members will have access to a hub of intellectuals, academics and historians to pull from when discussions of race emerge in classrooms, and students will have the ability to explore activism with the richness of historical and intellectual context.

 

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Reem Rosenhaj '17 is a creative writing major. After organizing with Students Against Sexual Harm (SASH) for the 2015-16 school year, Reem will spend her summer researching and developing a toolkit that can be used by Bryn Mawr students in order to better understand and respond to issues of sexual harm on our campus as well as in the bi/tri-co communities and across the country. This project grows from a framework that considers sexual harm to be a systemic issue. The project is intended to provide tools that will support students both to combat the oppressions in which sexual harm is rooted, and also to provide creative, collective, and alternative modes of support to those who have experienced sexual harm.

 

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Gabrielle Smith '17 is a sociology major. This summer she is doing research on Bryn Mawr traditions. She is focusing on Welcome the First Years Week, formerly known as Hell Week, to gain a sense of campus culture. Gabrielle is hoping this research will help the Bryn Mawr community understand the complexities of the tradition, while also creating a model for solving problems on campus. She hopes to share with the community skills that students, faculty, and administration can use to work together effectively in order to critically engage with ideas and problems that span from traditions to alcohol usage, consent, and race.

2015–16 Pensby Fellows

Nkechi Ampah '17

 

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Xavia Miles '16 is an English major with a double minor in Africana Studies and film studies. She works as a supervisor at Erdman Dining Hall. In addition, she served as the Pensby Center Liasion and one of the Customs Committee Co-Heads. During summer 2015, her research for the Pensby Fellowhship focused on evaluating professional development in the African Diaspora. Xavia surveyed current students and facilitated focus groups comprised of both current students and alumni to assess the degree to which students are supported by current services designed to encourage professional development. Her research is designed to increase the participation of Black students in on-campus professional development resources and buttressing the mission to continue culturally responsive instruction for both faculty and students. After analyzing the data found from the survey and focus groups, Xavia hopes to design a mentorship program that would begin in the students first year that encourages the development of a professional profile and partner with current offices to further cultural responsivity in career counseling. In addition, she endeavors to partner with affinity groups to insure that professional development is presented as a part of being a well-rounded Bryn Mawr student. In addition to Vanessa Christman, who oversees the Pensby Fellows and their work, Xavia’s faculty sponsor and mentor is Tiffany Shumate, Assistant Director of Admissions and Coordinator for Multicultural Recruitment at Bryn Mawr College.

 

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Amy Xu '17 is a philosophy major. Her project seeks to curate stories of border crossing, for the purpose of understanding how diversity at Bryn Mawr has created a safe space in which students reflect on and grow from their immigrant experiences and backgrounds. The exhibit will be curated both online and on campus, with the help of Special Collections. In her spare time, Amy volunteers for the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians in Philadelphia, and serves as the 2014-2015 Co-President of Asian Students Association.

2014–15 Pensby Fellows

 

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Emmett Binkowski '16 is a psychology major and gender and sexuality studies minor. He is a junior at the College and works as a supervisor at Haffner Dining Hall. He is also one of the student representatives for the Gender and Sexuality Studies program and an actor in the College’s Shakespeare Performance Troupe. During summer 2014, his research for the Pensby Internship focused on the history of gender identity and gender expression at Bryn Mawr. Emmett analyzed student publications such as literary magazines, newspapers, scrapbooks and class projects for clues about gender expression on campus in different time periods since the college’s founding. He also spoke with BMC graduates about their experiences as undergraduates at Bryn Mawr. By creating a digital archive of his findings, Emmett hopes to provide a resource to members of the college community to learn about the diverse gender identities and gender expressions of past and present Bryn Mawr students. In addition to Vanessa Christman, who oversees the Pensby Fellows and their work, Emmett’s faculty sponsor and mentor is Dr. Anita Kurimay, Assistant Professor of History at Bryn Mawr College.

 

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Chantille Kennedy '15 is from New Castle, Del. She majors in psychology with a double minor in sociology and children and family studies. Chantille is the President of Sisterhood, the African-American affinity group on campus, a member/past executive board member of Bryn Mawr College’s NAACP chapter, and a member of the varsity basketball team. Her Pensby Fellowship research focuses on student diversity within the College, specifically that of biracial and multiracial students and alumni. During the summer of 2014, Chantille conducted a survey asking questions of students and alumni on their experience both before Bryn Mawr and during their time at Bryn Mawr in regards to being multiracial, seeking to find out if their time at the College had been transformative. This research really resonates with Chantille because she herself has had a positive transformative process during her time at Bryn Mawr as a multiracial student. She hopes that future multiracial students at the College can also have a positive experience. This research will be presented in an online exhibit. Chantille worked with Vanessa Christman, who supervises the Pensby Fellows, and Louisa Egan-Brad, her faculty sponsor and a Psychology professor at Bryn Mawr College.

2013–14 Pensby Fellows

 

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Alexis De La Rosa '15 is from Claremont, Calif., and is a psychology major and English minor with a Latin American, Latino and Iberian Peoples and Cultures concentration. She is the current Co-President of Mujeres, the Latina/o affinity group on campus. This summer, her research for the Pensby Internship will revolve around the student experience in regards to diversity at Bryn Mawr. She will study diversity in academic and social settings of the college, paying particular attention to the Latina/o experience. Alexis is especially excited about a photography component which she plans to incorporate with her the research results. This internship is important to Alexis because her research will look at the absence of existing records on the experiences of students of color at Bryn Mawr College. Eventually, she hopes to work with increasing diversity in the workplace and increasing opportunities for minorities to hold positions of power. Her inspiration comes from the experiences of her parents and the adversity they faced being minorities in their respective workspaces. In addition to Vanessa Christman who oversees the Pensby Interns and their work, Alexis’ faculty sponsor and mentor is Dr. Jennifer Harford Vargas, Professor of English at Bryn Mawr College.

 

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Lauren Footman '14 is from Yeadon, PA., and is majoring in English, with a double minor in political science and Africana studies. Since arriving at Bryn Mawr Lauren has chartered a college unit of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), of which she is now the President. She is also a tour guide for the admissions office, as well a student coordinator for the Alliance of Multicultural Organizations (AMO) which is facilitated by the Pensby Center. Throughout the summer Lauren will work with Special Collections, to reveal and contribute insights into the experiences of Bryn Mawr College students, faculty and/or staff from Africa and the African Diaspora. She intends to interview alums, along with faculty and staff to document their personal reflections and share their experiences. This summer research will culminate in an online exhibit.
 
The internship also will give the students the opportunity to work on cataloging of the papers of distinguished alumna Evelyn Rich ’54, donated to the College this summer. The interns will get the chance to meet with Rich and interview her about her experience at the College. Footman and De La Rosa collaborate on joint projects like the Rich papers, but also have individual research projects overseen by a faculty advisor. De La Rosa will work with Assistant Professor Jennifer Harford-Vargas on a survey about the Bryn Mawr experience of Latina students and alumnae and Footman will work with Professor of Sociology Mary Osirim on a series of interviews with alumnae of color. Christman serves as mentor to both and holds weekly progress meetings with the students. The interns will chronicle the progress of their research and their work with the Rich papers on the Summer at BMC blog.

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Pensby Center for Community Development and Inclusion

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Bryn Mawr College
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pensby@brynmawr.edu