4 Mellon Mays Fellows Honored at Banquet
Applauded by friends, family, faculty members
and administrators, Wesleyan’s graduating Mellon Mays Fellows were honored
at a banquet held on May 12 in the Russell House.
As participants in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, these
students have been identified as students of great promise. Wesleyan and the
Fellowship are helping them become scholars of the highest distinction as
they pursue Ph.Ds in core fields in the arts and sciences.
The senior Fellows are Gustavo Furtado, Meenasarani (Linde) Murugan, Acacia
Stevens and Roberto (Tito) Soto-Carrión. In attendance were three of the
junior fellows—Michael Bolds, Mark Leonida, and R.J. Schmidt; Stephen
Padilla and Melanie Jung are studying abroad in Argentina and England.
Also in attendance were sophomores who are the newly selected members of the 18th Mellon
cohort: William Franklin, Devaka Gunawardena, Julius Hampton, Jason Harris,
Amber Jones and Katherine Rodriguez.
During the banquet, Gayle Pemberton, professor of African American Studies,
English, and American studies was named the first Mellon Mentor of the Year.
She was recognized for her dedicated and effective mentoring of several
fellows, her participation in the Mellon program’s regional conference, and
her support for applicants to the program. In addition, the senior fellows
gave presentations on their research projects.
Last fall Wesleyan had four fellows enter graduate programs in Mellon
fields, bringing the total number in graduate school to 11, while one fellow
deferred entrance. Next fall, four more fellows will be starting graduate
Five of Wesleyan’s seven Mellon Ph.Ds are in tenure-track positions at the
University of South Carolina, Berkeley, Texas A&M, Barry University and
Princeton, and one entered a post-doctoral program funded by the National
Institutes of Health this year. One fellow will be starting in a
tenure-track position at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts next
More than 20 other Wesleyan Mellons have received master’s degrees or
“Behind these statistics are wonderful stories of persistence in the face of
many odds and, in the case of those Fellows going on to the Ph.D.,
determination to change the academy to make it more inclusive and culturally
vibrant,” says Krishna Winston, coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate
The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, established in 1988, is a program
of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the centerpiece of the foundation’s
long-term effort to help remedy the serious shortage of faculty of color in
higher education. The fellowship aims to create a legacy of qualified and
gifted scholars of color who, along with others committed to eradicating
racial disparities, will provide opportunities for all students to
experience and learn from the perspectives of diverse faculty members. The
name of the program honors Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, the noted African-American
educator, statesman, minister, long-time president of Morehouse College, and
mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection