2017–18 Pensby Fellows
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.