College of Liberal Arts


Meet the Undergraduate Fellows

The second Cohort of Undergraduate Engaged Scholar Initiative Fellows selected in Spring 2019 includes rising juniors and seniors, and a wide-ranging combination of Humanities and Social Sciences majors. The Fellows’ fields of specialization are Education, Anthropology, National Security Studies, Philosophy, Sociology, Political Communications, Psychology, English, Art History, American Studies, Government, and English, along with a number of additional minors and Certificate Programs in Public Policy and the Bridging Discipline Program’s (BDP) Children & Society concentration.

Cultural and institutional accessibility is a public concern for several of the Cohort II Fellows, for example, access to information through language translation and community-specific databases. Equitable urban development and under-resourced urban communities’ access to food and healthful local environments and resources is another. The well-being of under-resourced and economically vulnerable communities, immigrants, and refugees is a shared investment for several of the Fellows.

The Cohort II Fellows bring remarkable skillsets to the ESI Fellowship community. Some are already producing public-facing media (a YouTube series on The Blanton Art Museum and its contemporary artists of color, Art in Color; A Familiar Place, a Podcast on living and thriving with neurological differences; the educational and historical project Refusing to Forget). Some of the incoming Fellows are filmmakers and editors, visual designers, audio technicians, experienced large event-planners, data miners and coders. Undergraduate Cohort II’s scholarly investments and technical expertise will support their own public-facing projects and those of their individual Graduate ESI mentors and the vibrant 2017-2021 ESI Cohort, as well.

Calista Castellanos

Calista Castellanos is an anthropology major and sociology minor from San Antonio, Texas, in her third year at UT. She has conducted her own ethnographic research with a Gnostic church in Manor, Texas, and archival research with the Tom Stoppard collection at the Harry Ransom Center. Bridging her love of sociocultural anthropology with her professional goals of political activism and advocacy, her anthropology honors thesis and ESI capstone project will center on the social constructions of Latin American immigrants and the US-Mexico border, criminalization of immigrants and detention practices, and the social and power dynamics within the immigration system. She hopes to uncover the root causes for these social conditions through historical, ethnographic, and theoretical approaches. If her studies in anthropology have taught her anything, it is the power and importance of individual human voices and the need to examine the systems that seek to ignore and silence them.

Oscar Corpus

Oscar Corpus is an English Honors major with a minor in Portuguese and a certificate in Public Policy. His research interests include public policy’s relationship to literature and film, Marxist interpretations of Latin American cinema, and translations of literary and cinematic works. He is also passionate about academic activism, and has worked on numerous projects promoting educational policies for the betterment of disenfranchised communities, such as Refusing to Forget¸ an educational non-profit project raising local history awareness in the Rio Grande Valley. His senior thesis centers on how Mexico’s foreign policy during the first decade of the Cold War impacted the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. After graduating in May 2020, Oscar will pursue a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, specializing in the relationship between public policy and Latin American literature and film.

Zaria El-Fil

Zaria El-Fil is a third-year Psychology, African & African Diaspora Studies, Humanities Honors triple major with a minor in History. Her work places the experiences of marginalized communities at the forefront of her historical work in order to acknowledge the symbolic violence, social injury, and forms of cultural domination and oppression that have reduced marginalized groups to asterisks in the telling of history. Zaria is interested in justice and the importance of inclusive K-12 history curricula. She envisions her academic trajectory as a quest to love and retell the stories that were deemed insignificant by U.S. educational institutions. Through the ESI Program, Zaria will work with local community members to conduct Brown Bag Talks, panels, and art exhibitions in order to create conversations surrounding early life identity formation and its relationship to history lessons that are the basis through which students begin to understand society and the human condition. It is the call of her younger self who felt excluded from history textbooks as well as the ethic of her role as a scholar, educator, and community activist.

Apurva Gunturu

Apurva Gunturu is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Plan II Honors and Philosophy, with a minor in Spanish. Her academic and research areas of interest include issues of communication and language barriers, especially in regard to immigration, identity, and translation. Through the Engaged Scholars Initiative, Apurva hopes to develop a deeper understanding of communication issues and is interested in exploring potential solutions for improving information availability in immigration processes through education, streamlining procedures, and the development of translingual systems of conversation.

Ann Morris

Ann Morris is a third-year anthropology student with a minor in journalism from Austin, TX. In her spare time, she builds on her photographic and videographic background by practicing visual ethnographic work around the UT Austin campus community. She also cohosts and edits A Familiar Place, a podcast aimed at helping the destigmatization of mental health issues by gathering personal stories, told by the individuals themselves. In the future, she aims to produce more large-scale documentarian and feature-based film projects that hold accurate perspectives from LGBTQ+ and mental health circles while conveying thought-provoking narratives. Ann intends to utilize the ESI program and its underlying beliefs in public intellectualism to explore bridges between humanities and STEM fields while conducting research on varying perceptions of certain mental illnesses and the affects interpersonal relationships, culturally-established value systems, and developing scientific communication can have on them. Although her previous endeavors have been on more current event-inclined, public-facing collections, Ann is eager to develop further in theoretical approaches on issues that matter and within which change can be implemented.

Jarie Nabors

Jarie Nabors is a senior majoring in Government with a certificate in National Securities Studies and minor in Sociology. Her academic and research areas of interest include Diplomacy, Civil Unrest, Social Movements, Immigration, Family, and influence of those areas on the Arts and Literature. Her Capstone project will focus on the effects of memory politics and national security policy on the social and artistic realm and how it shapes perceptions of legitimacy and morality- especially upon children. As a Terry Scholar she has strong belief in service, community, leadership and scholarship. She hopes to uphold the pillars of the Terry Foundation through not only her academic work, but also through her community involvement and engagement alongside the other ESI Cohort II fellows.

Cathy Preciado

Cathy Preciado (she/her) is a fourth-year undergraduate English major at the University of Texas at Austin. A daughter of immigrants, Cathy is invested in leveraging her education to amplify the needs of her community. Her research interests include pop culture/fan studies, immigration and race, postmodern literature, and comic book studies. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Cathy intends to pursue a Ph.D in Cultural Studies. Through the Engaged Scholar Initiative, Cathy hopes to bring credibility and merit to “fan-scholars” as well as highlight the existing wealth of knowledge within community building. She hopes her research will alter the pedagogy in which race, immigration, and other intersecting identities are often discussed as issues outside of “real literature,” the mainstream, and consumable media. Cathy further intends to publish her work in peer-reviewed journals as well as make her work accessible to non-academics and fans.

Emma Robinson

Emma Robinson is an American Studies and Political Communications double major. Her academic and research interests include Urban Development, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Housing Discrimination, American History, and Public Policy. Through her research with the Engaged Scholars Initiative, Emma hopes to find a way to use urban planning and zoning laws to equalize the distribution of wealth and resources within American cities. Using cities such as Houston and Austin as examples, Emma will research alternative ways to structure cities in a way that eliminates the formation of underdeveloped and under-resourced parts of cities, such as the formation of food deserts.

Ana Rosa Sanchez

Ana Rosa Sánchez is an English major with a minor in Rhetoric and Writing from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Their literary interests involve finding queer perspectives in contemporary and modern literature. Their research hopes to bridge the understanding of modern and contemporary literature with the study of gender and sexuality. As part of the Engaged Scholars Initiative, they want to create a database of LGBTQ+ research papers of canonical writers, as well as less known Latin American writers. Being a Latinx student, Ana is interested in starting the database by focusing on Puerto Rican writers, in addition to English writers like Virginia Woolf. Ana hopes to create a website that is an accessible resource for other scholars interested in researching LGBTQ+ themes and perspectives in literature.

Jaelynn Walls

Jaelynn Walls is an Art History and Plan II Honors double major who is pursuing a minor in African and African Diaspora Studies. She is interested in exploring identity politics and the role of the black body in museum spaces. Jaelynn is currently exploring the implications of painters replacing classical narratives and figures in the western canon with black bodies in order to reframe narratives surrounding art history and blackness. She is also committed to expanding accessibility to cultural institutions. At the graduate level, Jaelynn plans to earn a doctoral degree in Art History with a concentration in African American Studies. Jaelynn hopes to go on to conduct art historical research while curating exhibitions in major museums.