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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 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.

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. 

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.

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. Unofficial transcripts showing at least two introductory courses in the humanities and social sciences
    and declaration of an approved MMUF discipline as a major. Please email transcripts to [email protected].

  3. 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].


Review of applications for the 2022-23 academic year will begin on April 1, 2022.
Applications received after this date may not be reviewed by the committee.

The MMUF program

four female students and a male professor sitting on chairs and around a table

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 2021-22

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.


Crisdel Aguila

Woman with dark long hair wearing beige beanie, brown jacket and white shirtCrisdel 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.


Hazel Carias-Urbina

Hazel Carias-UrbinaHazel 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.

Meagan Domingo

woman with long hair, orange shirt. Behind is an orange tree with oranges Meagan Domingo is a Communication Studies and Social Justice major. She attributes her drive and success to the intricacies of social injustice. After experiencing many hardships firsthand, she has dedicated her education to exposing the inequalities many populations experience and highlighting the humanity of people's stories. Through her research, she hopes to educate, uplift, and draw parallels from minority population's issues to life experiences we all have. She feels this will create a little more understanding and empathy between us all. Her current research project is focused on health disparities experienced by low-income mothers of color. By analyzing the intersectional academic discourse she wants to help make a more equitable and safe future in healthcare for at-risk minority populations. 

MaryJay Villavicencio

Woman with long black hair, bangs, and white sleeveless shirtMaryJay 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

Headshot of Black man with blue shirt and dark hairShahar 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.

MMUF Alumni


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


  • Abigail Calderon (Ph.D. Program in history at Yale University)
  • Yadira Inez Tellechea (Cal State LA B.A. in Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies graduate)


  • Joselin Castillo (M.A. 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]