Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies
Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies

2017 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows

Azam Baig

Mirza Azam Baig is a Philosophy and African and African Diaspora Studies double major. As a Mellon Mays Fellow, Azam is working on an honors thesis under the instruction of Dr. Higgins which explores the possibility that the works of Friedrich Nietzsche can be taken as offering, at least in part, an ethic of virtue, reminiscent of the moral philosophies of Aristotle and Kant. He plans to enroll in a doctoral program in Philosophy, where he hopes to pursue his interests in contemporary ethics, early modern philosophy, continental philosophy, and the philosophy of race.

Stephanie Davidson

Stephanie Davidson is a Linguistics and Middle Eastern Languages and Culture major. She is interested in sociolinguistics and code-switching. As a Mellon Mays Fellow, Stephanie is researching the use of Arabic within the Arab diaspora in Asuncion, Paraguay and Santiago, Chile under the mentorship of Dr. Almeida Toribio. She plans to pursue a doctorate in Arabic Linguistics in order to expand her research on the modern use of Arabic within the Arab diaspora.

Gualberto Guzman

Xavier Durham is a Sociology major pursuing a Bridging Disciplines certificate in Human Rights and Social Justice. He is interested in the theoretical frameworks of state surveillance, policing, and social control in Brazilian society. Under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Marcelo Paixão, Xavier is exploring the implications of state control in Salvador, Brazil and how Afro-Brazilian populations can resist the institutional gaze of the state. At the graduate level, he hopes to earn a doctoral degree in Sociology and continue to contribute to the growing field of surveillance studies in Latin America.

Lucero Estrella

Lucero Estrella is a Mexican American and Latina/o Studies and Asian Cultures and Languages: Japanese double major. Her research interests include Mexican and Japanese history, the U.S.-Mexico border, and migration studies. She is interested in researching Japanese migration to Mexico during the early 20th Century, as well as Japanese migrant and Japanese-Mexican experience and settlement near the U.S.-Mexico border. As a MMUF Fellow, she is working under the supervision of C.J. Alvarez. Lucero intends to pursue a Ph.D. in History. 

Mandi Faulkner

Mandi Faulkner was born in San Francisco and grew up in Austin, Texas. In pursuing majors in History and European Studies, she has been drawn to issues of gender and society, especially women’s work in the early modern world. Her History honors thesis focuses on how women in seventeenth-century Amsterdam utilized communal connections and leveraged interpersonal relationships to ensure their own well-being. As a Mellon Mays Fellow, Mandi is examining morality and criminality in Holland after the Protestant Reformation under the mentorship of Dr. Julie Hardwick.

Gualberto Guzman

Gualberto Guzman is a senior, double-majoring in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. His fields of study are Artificial Intelligence and Software Design, respectively. His research interests focus on the applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence to corpus linguistics. He is currently working with Dr. Barbara Bullock and Dr. Almeida Toribio as part of the Bilingual Annotation Task Force to develop and improve automatic annotation tools for mixed-language data. He plans to pursue a PhD in Computer Science to expand his research of computational linguistics.

Jesus Hermosillo

Jesús Adolfo Hermosillo is a sophomore majoring in Linguistics. Inspired by his migration and interpersonal experiences, he has developed a keen interest in variation across dialects of Spanish, especially as it is spoken in the United States. Under the supervision of Dr. Almeida Toribio, he is analyzing corpora of Spanish utilizing Natural Language Processing tools to identify the features that distinguish among varieties. He intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Linguistics and focus his research on Natural Language Processing and Bilingualism.

Jeniffer Perales

Jeniffer Perales was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and raised in the border town of Alamo, Texas. She is completing majors in Government, Spanish, and Latin American Studies. As a Mellon Mays Fellow, Jeniffer is working under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Butler in researching the cultural effects of the Mexican Revolution in the decades following the war, primarily through the study of literature and the muralist movement. She plans to pursue a doctorate in History.

Sana Saboowala

Sana Saboowala is a Biology and Anthropology major hoping to focus on bioarchaeology. She is interested in exploring how advances in biotechnology can contribute to elucidating the narratives of the deceased, and how those narratives can be presented in the context of museums. Currently, she is working under the mentorship of Dr. Deborah Bolnick on her MMUF project, The Biology of Social Outsiders [working title], which focuses on bioarchaeological case studies of specific individuals thought to be somehow isolated from their respective societies. Her research interests include osteology, epigenetics, and museum studies. 

Carlos Salamanca

Carlos Salamanca is a third-year Latin American Studies and Mexican American and Latina/o Studies double major. Working under the supervision of Dr. Héctor Domínguez Ruvalcaba, Carlos is currently initiating his Mellon Mays project that outlines the history of an urban movement in Ciudad Juárez that successfully prevented the privatization of a municipal theater in 1990. As a second-generation immigrant whose parents were born in Ciudad Juárez, Carlos became interested in the history of the now-infamous border municipality at a young age. His research interests include critical and theoretical geography, urban social movements, and architectural history.

Angela Vela

Ángela Lorena Vela is is from Laredo, Texas and a junior double majoring in English and Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. She is also earning a certificate in Native American and Indigenous Studies. Sparked by a passion about literature, education, borderlands, and community engagement, she joined the Mellon Mays Fellowship Program in 2016, and is studying Mexican American and Latina/o Speculative Fiction under the supervision of her mentor, Dr. John Morán González. She is also interested in creative writing, indigenous languages, and Comanche literature. Ángela will pursue a doctorate in English and looks forward to completing young adult novels and serving her communities through art, literature, and education.

2016 MMUF Teaching Assistant

Chinwe Oriji

Chinwe Oriji, a McNair Fellow and PEO Scholar, is the MMUF Teaching Assistant. She is currently a PhD Student in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department.  She completed her MPhil in Modern Societies and Global Transformations at Cambridge University, UK. Her main areas of research interest include immigration, critical race theory, diaspora, and memory. Chinwe is focused on a doctoral dissertation tentatively titled “We Remember Differently”: The Memory Project of Children of Nigerian Immigrants.  She is also the founder of the “” Diaspora Website created to share narratives of immigrants and children of immigrants globally.

Previous Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows

Andrea Clark

Andrea Clark is pursuing her masters in Latin American Studies in the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. As a Mellon Mays Fellow, Andrea completed an interdisciplinary project and honor's thesis titled "Revolución Bolivarian@? Women's Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Venezuela" under the supervision of her mentor, Dr. Juliet Hooker. Andrea was born in Venezuela and has lived in various places like Argentina and Saudi Arabia. These transnational experiences sparked her interests in gender and race studies, in particular women's social movements. She is also interested in Afro-Venezuela and multiculturalism in Latin America. Andrea plans to pursue a doctorate in either Anthropology or Sociology while continuing to serve the Latinx community.