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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 United Negro College Fund (UNCF) membership.

As of 2021, over 6000 students have been selected as fellows, more than 1000 of whom have earned their Ph.D. and over 190 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.

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 a consortium program with the five CSU MMUF campuses.  This program will introduce new fellows to academic humanities and help them develop their research projects with the support of a faculty mentor. 

Program Benefits

  • $4000 term stipends for each year in the program (2 years)
  • $4500 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
  • 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.

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. This essay can be submitted through the "Apply Now" tab below.
  2. One letter of recommendation from a college or university faculty member who can document
    academic potential. The letter-writer should send their recommendation directly to [email protected].

The application portal for the 2023-24 academic year is open.

Applications received after March 15, 2023 will only be considered if positions remain available.

The MMUF Program

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship students and instructor sitting across from each other

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.  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.

MMUF Fellows 2022-23

Each year, four new MMUF fellows are selected.  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.

Hazel Carias-Urbina

Smiling woman with black hair wearing a light grey sweaterHazel Carias-Urbina is a History student with an interest in Latin American Studies. Her experience growing up as a teenager during the Trump administration compelled her to reflect on her position in society as the American-born daughter of Central American immigrants. With the encouragement of several students and professors, she has focused her studies on the history of U.S. intervention and Central American migration to Los Angeles. She studies the history of immigration and community organizing in the Byzantine Latino Quarter, part the Pico Union district, a dense Central American community where her family lived for almost three decades. Her research project for the MMUF examines the history of the annual Central American Independence Parade and Festival hosted by the COFECA organization, which has advocated for Central Americans in Los Angeles since the 1980s. Hazel hopes that her research will highlight the importance of Central Americans as an ethnic minority within the United States and the Latinx diaspora, as well as the challenges this community faces within both Los Angeles and the United States. 

Kimberly Conde

Kimberly Conde is a first-generation student and a political science major. Her experience in the Summer Bridge Summer Program at Cal State LA sparked her interest in how first-generation students use navigational capital tools in higher education. Her research the impact of various peer mentoring models on the success of first-generation Latinx students. Kimberly hopes that her scholarship and academic training will illuminate social-academic issues that affect first-generation Latinx students.

Shelley Cueto-Gonzalez

Woman with dark hair wearing white topShelley Cueto-Gonzalez (she/her) was born in Pasadena, CA but grew up in the East L.A. "hood." She is currently majoring in English at Cal State LA. Her research focuses on the relationship between William Shakespeare and rap music. Shelley explores the connections between these two seemingly different topics and examines how students use these cultural forms to support their mental health.  Upon completing this project, she plans to obtain her Ph.D. in English and continue her investigations of the relationship between literature and music. 

Tania Galvez

Woman with dark brown hair wearing glasses and a white sweaterTania Galvez is an Anthropology major with a minor in Woman, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  Her research focuses on women’s health, particularly regarding healthcare access, in cross-cultural contexts.  Her interest in the topic was aroused during familial visits to her mother’s family in Zamora, Michoacán, Mexico where medical facilities in the small town are limited. More recently, she has undertaken a research project that explores the temporal aspect of women’s health.  Utilizing pre-Columbian pelvises from several dozen individuals recovered from a Maya cave, Tania will determine if women were at greater risk of suffering from osteoporosis than men in this sample dated to the ninth and tenth centuries.

Karina Gutierrez

Woman with dark hair wearing a black top Karina Gutierrez is currently a History major with a minor in Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies. As a first-generation Mexican American college student, she wants to understand how immigration law and policies between the U.S – Mexico impact communities. Her current research explores how different organizations have advocated for immigrant rights in the Inland Empire. In her free time, she provides resources and guidance to people in her community on their path to citizenship. In the future, she hopes to become a professor to not only mentor other Latinx students, but to also combine academic work with organizing to give back to her community.

MaryJay Villavicencio

Woman with black hair wearing white topMaryJay Villavicencio is currently majoring in English and a minor in science fiction. Following nine years of pursuing writing projects to find and let her writing evolve with her interests, they are exploring a project that centers around writing pedagogy for Latine students in first-generation perspectives. Having opportunities to write from a first-generation perspective, she found an interest in asking questions about writing pedagogies for students of multiethnic backgrounds and asking to share representation in literature classes. In doing so, she hopes to bring more students together to represent themselves so future higher academic courses are diverse and welcome to all writers and so educators can also stay teachable.

Shahar Wakan

Man with black hair and black facial hair wearing a blue top.Shahar Wakan is a senior studying anthropology. He has traveled extensively, to places such as Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, South America, the Caribbean, and Africa. He is passionate about world culture. Shahar aspires to utilize his international travel experiences as a resource to become a professor of cultural anthropology. He identifies himself as an African American part of the African diaspora. Through his research, he hopes to investigate the evolving culture of Africans within the diaspora, of the Americas and the Caribbean. His research investigates health, food access, and food security among urban and rural populations within the African diaspora. Shahar hopes that his research will raise awareness regarding the relatability and resourcefulness of community cooperation within rural and urban environments.

Dana Yassin

Woman with dark brown hair wearing a black dress shirt and dark grey dress pantsDana Yassin is a Political Science major with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is an Egyptian-born American and attributes her passion for social justice work to having witnessed firsthand the cruel treatment of women under legal and social pressures in the region. She focuses on gender equality in the Middle East & the U.S as well as the impact of U.S foreign policy on human rights in the global South. Her current research centers on legal prejudice and human rights violations against women and queer people in Egypt. She aims to shine a light on the inhumane circumstances that women and queer people endure outside of the Western world in the hopes that increased exposure can challenge oppression

MMUF Alumni

2021-2022

  • Crisdel Aguila (Equity Intern, Walt Disney Corporation)
  • Meagan Domingo (Cal State LA B.A in Communication Studies)

2020-2021

  • Laura Pineda (Cal State LA B.A in Anthropology graduate)

2019-2020

  • Abigail Calderon (Ph.D. Program in History at Yale University)
  • Yadira Inez Tellechea (M.A. Program in Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies at Cal State LA and Graduate Student Coordinator, Cal State LA MMUF)

2018-2019

  • Joselin Castillo (Ph.D. Program in Latin American Studies at University of New Mexico)
  • Michelle Ceja (M.A. Program in Anthropology at Cal State LA)
  • Janette Gill (Nursing Program at Mt. Saint Mary's University)
  • Nancy Flores (Ph.D. Program in Sociology at University of New Mexico)

Contact Us

MMUF at Cal State LA Faculty Coordinator:
Mark Wild, Ph.D.
Professor of History
[email protected]