Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program

MMUF student and professor

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program is the centerpiece of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning. The program includes 48 member schools and consortia, including three South African universities and a consortium of historically black colleges and universities within the membership of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).

As of 2017, over 5000 students have been selected as fellows, more than 700 of whom have earned the Ph.D. and over 100 of whom are now tenured faculty members. The great majority of those who have completed the Ph.D. hold or have held an appointment in the academy.

Cal State LA is proud to be one of five CSU campuses—including CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach, and CSU San Bernardino—that houses the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program.

MMUF at Cal State LA

Each year, four new MMUF fellows are selected from among applicants in the rising junior class (last semester as a sophomore.) These newly selected cohorts of fellows join the previously selected cohorts of rising and graduating senior fellows, where they are provided with mentoring and financial support as they prepare for entry into Ph.D. programs and eventual careers as scholars and faculty members.


Program Description

During the academic year, students will attend bi-weekly meetings that would support various aspects of the Fellows’ personal and professional development and would expand upon topics introduced during the CSU MMUF Consortium Summer Experience and Cal State LA Humanities Summer Scholars Program, including “applying to graduate school,” “effective public speaking,” “examining the grad school application process.” Bi-weekly meetings would also address the research project process.

During the summer, students will participate in two-four weeks programs (for a total of 8 weeks).  The first four weeks will be CSU MMUF Consortium Summer Experience held at one of the CSU consortium campuses. In the second four weeks, students will attend the Cal State LA Humanities Summer Scholars Program and develop their research projects with the support of a faculty mentor. 

Eligibility Criteria

Cal State LA MMUF applicants should have a

  1. Minimum 3.2 GPA at the time of application, be on track to complete 48-60 semester units by the end of their second (sophomore) year/fourth semester.
  2. Sophomore or Junior standing

Selection Criteria

Applicants would be selected for Cal State LA’s MMUF Program based on the following criteria:

  • Academic promise (e.g., GPA, recommendation letters, essay);
  • Potential for a faculty career in academia in core Mellon fields of study, particularly in the arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences;
  • Contribution to diversity in their designated fields of study;
  • Demonstrated commitment to understanding the barriers faced by underrepresented minorities, breaking down stereotypes, and increasing understanding across racial and ethnic groups;
  • Willingness to consider graduate school in MMUF-approved humanities-based disciplines;
  • Commitment to participating fully and enthusiastically in all aspects of the MMUF program, including attendance at conferences, meetings, and activities; and
  • Status as a US citizen, permanent resident, as well as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or undocumented status.

Application Process

  1. A 500-word personal essay describing interest in one of the MMUF-approved disciplines, potential
    career goals/interests in the professoriate, how the MMUF Program would be integral to their life
    history and academic goals, and what they hope to achieve in the program;

  2. Unofficial transcripts showing at least two introductory courses in the humanities and social sciences
    and declaration of an approved MMUF discipline as a major;

  3. One letter of recommendation from a college or university faculty member who can document
    academic potential.

All students are welcome to apply to the MMUF Program. Applications are particularly encouraged from African Americans, Chicana/os, /Latina/os, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and members of other underrepresented groups in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

***Unofficial transcripts and one letter of recommendation must be emailed to [email protected]***

Apply today 

Program Benefits

  • $3600 term stipends for each year in the program (2 years)
  • $3900 summer stipends to conduct research with a faculty mentor (2 years)
  • $600 travel stipends for travel-related expenses (2 years)
  • $400 research stipend for research-related expenses (1 year)
  • GRE preparation
  • Up to $10,000 repayment in undergraduate/graduate student loans, once entered into a Ph.D. program
  • Guest lectures and social/cultural activities throughout the year
  • Ongoing professional advising and moral support MMUF fellows benefit most from continuing their studies with other students moving toward similar goals, including MMUF fellows at other institutions, creating a local, regional, and national cohort and support system.

MMUF fellows benefit most from continuing their studies with other students moving toward similar goals, including MMUF fellows at other institutions, creating a local, regional, and national cohort and support system.

MMUF Fellows 2020-2021

Crisdel AguilaCrisdel Aguila is currently majoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and minoring in Asian American studies. She heavily attributes where she is today to her ethnic identity as a Filipina woman, born and raised in American Samoa, because both cultures continuously intersect to inform how she practices transformative justice. She actively advocates for the restoration of our world through restoring our homes, our communities and our environment first. Through her research, she hopes to contribute to the ongoing work that amplifies the voices of Pacific Islanders in climate change policy. She will focus on Pacific Islander communities, not only because they are some of the most vulnerable, but because pre-colonial and present Pacific societies have long-established sustainable practices in response to climate change that integrates both indigenous adaptation efforts and modern technology. Furthermore, this research will explore how Pan-Oceanic organizing around climate change transcends the political front but is strengthened and transformed through lived solidarity building between Pacific Island communities.



Amber RomeroAmber Moreno is a third-year philosophy major and religious studies minor who grew up in South Central as a bookworm. Growing up she developed close friendships with her teachers and professors who instilled academic confidence in her, which is something she hopes to emulate with her own students when she becomes a university professor. Her research revolves around the question of identity and what actually constitutes an identity. Along with culture as a defining feature, Amber hopes to identity other pillars that form an identity, such as religion in particular. She hopes to apply her findings to today’s youth who struggle with identity.



Laura PinedaLaura Pineda is a first-generation student with a major in Anthropology and a minor in History. Her goal is to become involved in education in the future. She wants to provide adequate academic counseling to students in the LAUSD system. Her plan is to do an oral history anthropological research project in which she explores counselor-student relationships within a system; that system being a high school.  She will investigate how these relationships have been affected due to the current pandemic. 






Maribel RosasMaribel Rosas is a first-generation student majoring in Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. She grew up in both Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles in a Mexican Immigrant household with both parents and three brothers. Growing up in Boyle Heights is one of the motivating factors for her to pursue higher education because it is uncommon to see members of my community earn a degree in education higher than a high school diploma. She hopes to have a career in academia to be able to teach and work with students with similar backgrounds. She hopes to one day teach at a University like Cal State Los Angeles since it has a large representation of Latinx students. Being a part of the Mellon Mays Program will definitely help her reach my goals of influencing younger generations. Her research interest includes gender roles, machismo, and sex education within Latinx communities.


MMUF Fellows 2019-2020

Abigail Calderon

Abigail Calderon is a first-generation undocumented student who wants to contribute to academia by highlighting the stories of marginalized communities. Her drive to become a historian lies in wanting to highlight the stories of marginalized people that might otherwise be forgotten.

Her research explores the efforts made to halt the name change from Brooklyn Avenue to Cesar E. Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights, located in East Los Angeles, during 1994. This research also explores the response elicited from the community and the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California. The purpose of this research are to include and demonstrate that the narratives that were presented by the City Council, media, and the Jewish Historical Society are illustrative of how historical narratives can be used to cement and exclude certain perspectives, thereby altering public memory.



Janette Gill

Janette Gill is majoring in Latin American studies at California State University, Los Angeles. As a first-generation student with a multi-ethnic background, her study is seen through a unique lens. This perspective helps to evaluate the changes happening in the urban city of Los Angeles in which she was born. Her research focuses on the history of resistance to gentrification in the Echo Park community, just north of Downtown, Los Angeles during the 1990s. Furthermore, she explores the impact on people when urban “development” was implemented by means of structural violence, and in collision with globalization. As a Mellon Mays Fellow she looks forward to becoming a professor that will teach, educate, and guide individuals in underserved communities by providing a holistic understanding of the world around us through the Humanities.



JoselinJoselin Castillo is graduating Spring 2020 with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. As a Guatemalan first-generation college student, her research focuses on the stories of Central American mothers as they navigate mothering after migrating to the United States. These stories help shine a light on Central American narratives and their forms of resistance in their daily lives. Now, Joselin is planning to earn a doctorate and a law degree in her future studies.





AntonioAntonio Ruiz is a third-year Chicana(o)/Latina(o) Studies major. They were born and raised in Riverside, CA. With the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Antonio hopes to become a professor at a community college or CSU, in order to help low-income working-class students attain their degrees. They are committed to working in community spaces to help educate the community on information that may not be accessible. Currently, their work focuses on how K-12 teachers are Indigenizing their classrooms & curriculum and the ways in which these practices benefit students' learning. 



YadiraYadira Inez Tellechea is a non-traditional first generation Xicana transfer student from Boyle Heights, California. She is a Chicana/o & Latina/o Studies major, Pan African Studies minor, and an Honors College scholar at Cal State LA. Her multitude of identities as a scholar, activist, researcher, tía, organizer, sister, daughter, and partner informs her research interests and motivations for pursuing a Ph.D. Her current Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship research is titled “At What Cost? How City Council Member Alliances with LAPD in Boyle Heights is Actually an Endorsement for Gentrification”. She is concerned with the rapidly growing threat of gentrification in her Boyle Heights neighborhood and is focused on the role that the Los Angeles Police Department, along with City Council representation, plays in exacerbating gentrification. Utilizing oral histories and testimonios from current and former Boyle Heights residents, including her own family, along with ideologies from existing literature, her research will critique the roles city officials take in promoting and enabling gentrification and how aligning themselves with police is a form of keeping Boyle Heights residents submissive to their intentions. 

Along with her research and academic responsibilities, Yadira is the Chicana/o & Latina/o Studies student representative on the steering committee for the College of Ethnic Studies at Cal State LA as well as a research assistant for her major department’s chair, Dra. Dolores Delgado Bernal. Yadira is also the 2019-2020 President of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS), a student organization on campus that centers the needs of womxn of color on campus with an emphasis on self-care through ancestral knowledge and practices. She received Dean’s List honors three out of four semesters at East Los Angeles College and has maintained a 4.0 GPA since she transferred in 2018. Yadira hopes to become a community college or public university professor in the future.

Michelle CejaMichelle Ceja is a first-generation college student. She transferred to Cal State LA from East Los Angeles College where she earned her Associate’s degree in Anthropology. Now she is working on her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with a minor in Latin American Studies. Her research interests include power dynamics, education, Latinidad, migration, trauma, diaspora, memory,  and folklore. Michelle combines her interest with her personal experiences in her research projects. 

Michelle’s current project is titled Migrant Inheritance: Xenophobia, Intergenerational Trauma, and Public Schools in Los Angeles. In this work, she investigates how for immigrant families, primary schools are often the first sites where children interface with state institutions. Yet as evidenced by CA prop 187, the education system acts as a proxy to enforce a wider national border security agenda that informs the ways in which educators and children of immigrant families understand each other.




Nancy Flores grew up in South Central Los Angeles and is currently a senior at California State University, Los Angeles majoring in Pan-African and Latin American Studies. As a person who went through the public education system and was pushed-out, she is interested in the testimonios of formally pushout youth. 

Her study draws on the testimonios of three muxeres, who have formerly attended a continuation school in Los Angeles. Continuation schools serve an overrepresented amount of students in their pathways towards obtaining a high school diploma or General Education Development credential. She explores how these muxeres employ various forms of resistance through continuing their education. Whether it be resisting pushout; the deficit narrative; or intersecting forms of oppression, highlighting these muxeres resistance emphasizes that students are not simply acted upon by these structures. Her research draws from interdisciplinary research models that seek to utilize conceptual frameworks from ethnic studies, sociology of education, and critical race theory through an intersectional Chicana Feminist lens. Collectively, these models inherently disrupt educational structures that largely do not benefit underrepresented students.



MMUF at Cal State LA Faculty Coordinator:

Mark Wild, Ph.D.
Professor of History

[email protected]