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Miles DeClue '22 on Being a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow

January 24, 2022 Alina Peon '22
Miles DeClue '22

The College is featuring a few of the Class of 2022 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows in advance of this year's deadline for applications. Miles DeClue '22 is a Literatures in English major with minors in history and Africana studies.

MMUF is an initiative of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to increase the diversity of faculty within higher education. At Bryn Mawr College, the MMUF Program is co-administered by the Pensby Center for Community Development and Inclusion and a member of the faculty. Interested students apply their sophomore year and each year five students are selected to be a part of the program. The deadline for applications for the Class of 2024 cohort is 9 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 14. 

In addition to conducting research, Mellon Mays Fellows regularly meet with their cohort to exchange ideas and share research progress. Other activities include professional development workshops, cultural outings, and meetings with other MMUF campuses. 

Each fellow pairs with a faculty mentor at the College to conduct research on a topic they are passionate about. 

Who was your faculty mentor and what was it like working with them?  

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan is my faculty mentor and although she has just left Bryn Mawr, she is continuing to work with me remotely which is a testament to her continuous efforts to guide me through my research as a Mellon Fellow. Working with Professor Sullivan has been an incredible experience. She has helped me grow as an academic and as a writer. Before she was my faculty mentor, Professor Sullivan was my ESEM professor and she encouraged me to apply to Mellon. I would not be where I am without her guiding me along the way and I truly appreciate all of her help.   

What can you tell me about your research project? How has your process helped decolonize academia? 

My research revolves around literary and film adaptation. More specifically, what happens to respective canons when Black women take on roles that were played by white people in their original texts and/or films. In terms of decolonizing academia, my research aims to demonstrate how Black women playing iconic roles in film and literature change how one views the original source material. I believe that focusing on Black womanhood and how they create spaces for themselves in places that they have been gatekept from is a form of decolonization.  

What opportunities were you able to take advantage of thanks to the fellowship? 

As a Mellon Fellow, I have been able to participate in the MMUF Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference for two years, both as a panelist, where I presented my research, as well as a moderator for a panel at the conference hosted at Bryn Mawr in 2021. I was able to get a feel for presenting on an academic panel, gain insight from other Mellon Mays fellows and coordinators at different colleges, and practice skills as a panelist moderator.  

How has your Bryn Mawr education been impactful in your research process?  

I have taken a multitude of courses that apply to my research in both English as well as fields outside my major, such as an education course called Reconceptualizing Power which reshaped the ways that I view teaching. I am currently enrolled in a film course called Theorizing Affect/Watching Television which directly pertains to my thesis since I am writing about film and television. 

What are your plans for the future? 

I plan to take a gap year which I will use to study for the GRE and LSATs. After that year I hope to take part in a joint J.D. and Ph.D. program so that I can become a professor as well as practice law.