Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

Current Fellows

Current Fellows


Kaliyah is a senior studying English with a Creative Writing Concentration. Her research centers around the conceptualization of Black woman’s experience with sexuality as a grounds for self-discovery. She focuses on the Black woman as a mother, as depicted in 20th century literature, hoping to explore the role of the Black family structure and its relation to illustrations of autonomy, resistance, and disruption. Her goal is to create a poetics of Black women’s intimacy, re-evaluating the relationship between the public and private self, as well as the impact on the next generation of mothers. Kaliyah is also a Focus editor for 34th Street Magazine.


Nico Fonseca is a senior studying Comparative Literature and Latin American/Latinx Studies. He is interested in the subversive possibilities of film and filmmaking, particularly materialist notions of sensation and space-time in Latin American and Indigenous cinemas, as well as decolonial practice. His current research works to bridge the gap between Marxist assertions regarding revolutionary pedagogy and non-Western traditions of thought, particularly as manifested in contemporary Indigenous cinema of the Americas. Nico was formerly a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Collaborative, a Miami-based urban education initiative, and is currently a Wolf Humanities Undergraduate Research Fellow. His other interests include critical political economy, posthumanisms, and the works of philosopher Gilles Deleuze


Destini McCrory is a senior African diaspora studies major.  As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, their research interests center African American religion, specifically hoodoo, and its intersections with queer identity. Through this research, they hope to evolve ethnographic practices, museum preservation and religious based performance art. This project is driven by a desire to examine the development of African American religious and spiritual practices, their representation in the archive, its modern uses, and its interaction with the digital world. Destini currently serves as board person of Intersectional Unity Movement, a small, student created, community based, awareness oriented organization, a member of African American Arts Alliance, as well as a tutor and mentor to West Philadelphia school-aged children.

Chinaza Ruth Okonkwo

Chinaza is a senior studying Philosophy and History. Her research centers around the lives and experiences of Igbo people throughout the 15th-21st centuries. She hopes to explore the philosophical leanings of “pre-modern” Igbo people and the effects that colonization and the subsequent creation of Biafra have had on the present condition and the future of Igbo philosophy. Her goal is to ignite research into a variety of different philosophies across the world that have been forgotten and to spark more interest among African philosophers to explore, rediscover, and insist upon the life and value of their ethnic group’s philosophical tradition. Chinaza is a Robeson Cooper Scholar, Benjamin Franklin Scholar, and Perry World House Student Fellow. She is a member of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (SCUE), Coalition Against Fraternity Sexual Assault (CAFSA), CURF Research Peer Advisor, and research assistant to a variety of projects.

Become a Postgraduate Fellow

The MMUF Program at Penn provides a small cohort of extraordinary Humanities and Social Sciences undergraduates with an array of programming services.

Underrepresented minority students and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities with the intention of pursuing a postgraduate degree are encouraged to apply.