College of Liberal Arts


Meet the Undergraduate Fellows

In spring 2018, Dr. Mia Carter and the Mellon ESI Cohort I fellows interviewed and selected the first cohort of one- and two-year undergraduate Engaged Scholars. The nine fellows represented below are distinguished scholars and citizens; each has a community to which he or she is committed and has remained attached while pursuing an undergraduate education at The University of Texas at Austin. The Undergraduate ESI Fellows are aspiring doctors, lawyers, archaeologists, civil rights and social justice activists, educators, poets, writers, environmentalists, and social workers. Several are first-generation students who have demonstrated gifts for sharing the cultures, values, and ideals of their respective communities. Each has endeavored to combine disciplinary interests in the Humanities, Arts, and Sciences.

The undergraduate ESI Fellows’ professional interests include gerontology and medicine, immigration and refugee services, prison reform, public health, public policy, higher education, social services, disability studies, and medical anthropology, just to name a few. The undergraduate ESI Fellows have in common their shared passions for inquiry and deep investments in the sharing of educational privileges.

Each of the undergraduate ESI Fellows will partner with an individual graduate ESI Fellow and share learning experiences with the collective graduate ESI cohort, as well. Research collaboration between undergraduate and graduate scholars, mentoring partnerships, and mutual support of fellows’ professional and public-facing goals are central to the vision of the Mellon ESI Fellowship. A second cohort of undergraduate ESI Fellows will be selected in Spring 2019.

Morgan Clark

Morgan Clark is a fourth-year undergraduate student with majors in Anthropology, English, and Linguistics. Her research interests include Maya archaeology and epigraphy, linguistic anthropology, and language documentation. She has excavated and processed artifacts at a historical site in Buda, Texas, as well as at several prehistoric Maya sites in Orange Walk, Belize. In spring 2018, she was a research intern for the Texas Archeological Research Lab (TARL), where she cataloged, processed, and rehabilitated artifacts for the TARL Mexican Ceramics collection. That same semester, she also began working as a research assistant facilitating Dr. Danny Law’s language documentation of Ixil, a vulnerable Mayan language spoken in Guatemala. For her Anthropology Honors thesis, she plans to analyze a collection of Preclassic Maya spouted vessels from Colha, Belize. After graduating, she will pursue a PhD in archaeology with specialization in the Mesoamerican region. Capstone Vision Plan.

Luis De La Cruz

Luis De La Cruz is an English and Linguistics double major, with a minor in French and Certificates in Creative Writing and Native American/Indigenous Studies. His scholarly interests include 20th century American poetry, medieval studies, literature and translation, and the overlap between linguistics and literary studies. Luis believes that the connective capacity of the Humanities--that is, its potential to not only bridge fields of study and disciplines, but also people and communities--is one of its greatest assets; accordingly, he is committed to utilizing this capacity in his own scholarship and thinking critically about the civic duties of those in the humanities. Capstone Vision Plan.

Jacob Hood

Jacob Hood is a triple major in African and African Diaspora Studies, Sociology, and English, with a certificate in Public Policy. His work centers on community engagement, cultural studies, and policy research, with an emphasis on using Black Studies to uplift and support Black communities. His past project “’A Glorious Resurrection:’ Constructions of Masculinity in the Narratives of Frederick Douglass and Solomon Northup” addresses the colonial and heteropatriarchal underpinnings of Black masculinity during the antebellum period. Through this project Jacob found that the medium of the slave narrative participated in a “process” of masculinity and the actual “making of the man,” entrenching this understanding of masculinity within Western ideals of capitalism and the transformation of Black people from humans to property (and vice versa).  Through the ESI program, Jacob hopes to bring the knowledge and perspective of Black Studies to the community in a way that is both accessible and responsive to community needs.

Emily Ibarra

Emily Ibarra is a third-year Sociology major from Rockdale, Texas in the Liberal Arts Honors Program at The University of Texas at Austin. As a first-generation student, Emily has served as an Orientation Advisor for the Class of 2021, a Community Advisor at the University Apartments, and as a member of the International Justice Mission- Longhorn Chapter. Her interests include traveling, youth mentorship, dancing, writing and spending time with her loved ones. In the future, she hopes to travel abroad, assist in research on the intersection between religion and social inequality, and develop meaningful connections to bridge the gap between marginalized communities and the world around them.

Max McCready

Max McCready is a Sustainability Studies and prospective Humanities double major at UT, in his junior year.  He is broadly interested in the Environmental Humanities, the study of our cultural engagement with the “more-than-human” world.  A history of farming in various locations and working as an elementary school teacher’s assistant inform his ambitions for integrating academic projects into a broader setting.  




Thomaia Pamplin

Thomaia J. Pamplin is a graduating senior, majoring in English literature and Pre-Medical studies. She is particularly interested in the narratives of her lower-income community in Houston, TX. Pamplin’s research focuses on the elderly, black community in Houston and their interactions with the healthcare system. By recording narratives, she interrogates and analyzes the socio-economic, racial, generational, and religious aspects that affect this community’s healthcare access. Pamplin firmly believes that an individual's story is vital to their healthcare treatment and that healthcare professionals can treat people better by knowing more than just a patient’s medical history. She hopes her research will advance Narrative Medicine, a field that highlights the importance of knowing a patient beyond their symptoms and causes. Pamplin aspires to be a doctor who lives up to that ideal in her own career. Capstone Vision Plan.

Jeff Rose

Jeff Rose is an English and Rhetoric & Writing double major. He is also in the Creative Writing certificate program and the LGBTQ Studies minor. Pursuing an English Honors thesis, Jeff is interested in studying disability in literature in conjunction with sexuality and other identity intersections. Through the Engaged Scholar Initiative, he hopes to bring light to the ways in which disability is deeply intertwined in current social movements and discussions but often forgotten, left out, or misunderstood. Jeff’s research will tackle the ways in which disability is represented or used in literature and what our public consumption of these media means for societal understandings of disability. He will catalog his research and findings in an accessibly-created website to bring about further public discussion and enlightenment of disability.

Scott Spivey

Scott Spivey Provencio is a third-year undergraduate double-majoring in Plan II Honors and Neuroscience Honors, with a minor in Spanish. Scott's research interests lie in the field of medical anthropology and migrant health. His honors thesis, "Foreign Bodies: Latinx Immigrant Experiences in the U.S. Healthcare System", uses medical anthropology and qualitative research methods to capture the immigrant experience. He seeks to explore the impact of people's immigrations on their health care, access to health, and overall perceptions of health. Using narrative analysis, he will also investigate if and how the immigrant experience has an effect on individuals' constructions of their chronic illness narratives. He hopes his research will contribute towards changing attitudes toward immigrant populations and towards improving migrant health policy in the U.S. Supervisor: Dr. Lauren Gulbas. Capstone Vision Plan.

Christine Vo

Christine Vo is a student in the departments of Philosophy and Sustainability Studies. She is particularly interested in the philosophical implications of imposter syndrome in minority groups. Focusing on first-generation students, her thesis will examine the distinction between justified belief and opinion of one's own intellectual capabilities. She seeks to determine whether certain groups have the epistemic tools needed to access the benefits of being intellectually validated. Additionally, she firmly believes that philosophy is useful and relevant to the modern world. As they are typically under appreciated, she often thinks about how she can best communicate the importance of philosophy and humanities to her friends and her family.