Barnard has long held mentorship at the center of its initiatives to foster greater diversity and representation in the ranks of higher education. That means being a leading partner of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) — a national program that supports emerging student researchers of color, and others with a demonstrated commitment to the program’s diversity mission, in pursuit of a Ph.D. — since 1996.
Over the course of the partnership, 20 alumnae have earned a Ph.D. across the arts, humanities, and social sciences, with 10 others currently in graduate school. Barnard’s MMUF Fellows work closely with distinguished faculty and advising coordinators, beginning in their junior and senior years at the College.
“MMUF at Barnard strives to create and nurture community among our fellows, creating an intergenerational, feminist community,” said Monica L. Miller, the program’s faculty coordinator and Ann Whitney Olin Professor of English and Africana Studies. “The ways in which the College’s MMUF fellows care for each other and support [each other’s] scholarship and ambition is one of the best parts of the program. As they become Ph.D.s and professors, the fellows become colleagues and friends — diversifying the academy while also making it a more humane place.”
The program offers the fellows individualized access to faculty mentorship as they develop independent scholarly interests, act as research assistants on teaching projects, and gain insight into the process of becoming an academic. At an MMUF Ph.D. symposium earlier this year, Barnard hosted seven alumnae who unpacked this process.
Watch the videos below featuring three fellows who share their experiences of finding community and how Barnard helped them to lay the groundwork of becoming a Mellon Mays Ph.D.
Farida Begum ’12
Farida Begum, who double-majored in history and Asian and Middle Eastern cultures (AMEC) at Barnard, has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan. She is a visiting assistant professor at Colgate University in the history department. Her current book manuscript focuses on women’s social relationships in 20th-century Bengal. Begum’s research and teaching interests are at the intersection of gender, imperialism, and constructions of history.
The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship is the centerpiece of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase diversity in higher learning faculty. Dr. Farida Begum ‘12 shares her Barnard journey and her experience with MMUF!♬ original sound - Barnard College
Emily R. Bock ’09
Emily R. Bock is a cultural anthropologist whose research and teaching are situated at the intersection of Black studies, queer theory, performance studies, ethnography, social theory, and ethics. At Barnard, she studied anthropology and dance while minoring in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago. Bock is currently writing a book, tentatively titled Ordinary Queens: Queer Performances of the Good Life, which is a multi-sited ethnography of the contemporary ballroom scene — an underground, predominantly Black, queer performance community.
The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship is the centerpiece of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase diversity in higher learning faculty. Dr. Emily R. Bock ‘09 shares her Barnard journey and her experience with MMUF!♬ original sound - Barnard College
Esme Murdock ’10
Esme Murdock majored in philosophy at Barnard before earning her Ph.D. in the department of philosophy at Michigan State University. She is an assistant professor of American Indian studies and associate director of the Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs at San Diego State University. Her research interests include environmental justice, Indigenous and Afro-descended environmental ethics, settler colonial theory, and decolonization as land and resource rematriation. Her work centers on conceptions of land, and relating to land, found within Indigenous, African American, and Afro-descended environmental philosophies. Her research has been published by Environmental Values, Global Ethics, Hypatia, Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Critical Philosophy of Race, and World Philosophies.
The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship is the centerpiece of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase diversity in higher learning faculty. Dr. Esme Murdock ‘10 shares her Barnard journey and her experience with MMUF!♬ original sound - Barnard College