March 2013
Volume 2 | Issue 3
WW Logo MMFPN Newsletter
  Mellon Mays Fellows Professional Network
Administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation



Featured Fellows

Commentary on racial incident at Oberlin College

Successes & Achievements

Career Opportunities

MMFPN News & Events

Austin, Texas MMFPN Kickoff!
Will you be in Austin on March 25th? If so,  you are invited to the Austin, Texas Mellon Mays Fellows Professional Network Kickoff Dinner! Connect and reconnect with MMUF alumni in your area! 
Email to RSVP

Upcoming  MMFPN Kickoffs:

Austin, TX - March
Chicago, IL - April
Atlanta, GA - May
Boston, MA - June


south african flag

In South Africa, the term township refers to the often underdeveloped urban living areas that, from the late 19th century until the end of Apartheid, were reserved for non-whites (black Africans, Coloureds and Indians).

Within the townships, the communities face many troubling issues. Most often the homes are built on lands that are not owned by the occupier so it is there illegally. Since the houses are not there with the government's permission they most likely do not have the proper services needed. Without the proper services, such as sewage, electricity, roads, and clean water, life is very difficult for them. 

There are 47 townships in South Africa, Soweto is considered the largest township by population. Soweto's population is 99.3% black African, 0.04% White, 0.64% Coloured and 0.02% Asian. 

South Africa has 23 universities, however most of the children in the poor areas end up dropping out around 9th grade. In the South African Schools Act of 1996 education became compulsory for all South Africans from the age of seven to fifteen, or the completion of 9th grade. In order to target the education of the poorest of the poor the government created two notable programs.

One is the fee-free schools, institutions that receive all their required funding from the state and so do not have to charge school fees. These schools were carefully identified in the country's most poverty-stricken areas, and made up 40% of all schools in 2007. 

The other government created program is the National Schools Nutrition Program, which feeds about 7 million school children every day. 

For more information on these facts and
figures, click here.

South Africa Table Mountain 3

South Africa pic 3

Dear MMUF Fellows:

We are pleased to share a special edition of the Mellon Mays Fellows Professional Network newsletter featuring our South African Fellows!

In this issue you will read the incredible achievements of four fellows, and learn a few facts about South Africa!

Throughout the year there will be opportunities to attend MMFPN Kick-off events in various cities across the United States. Please read through the newsletter to see the latest MMFPN events in your city!

Remember, "once  a Mellon, always a Mellon!"

MMFPN Staff,

Dr. Caryl McFarlane
Senior Program Officer
Mellon Mays Programs and Pickering Fellowships

Evita Alpheaus
Program Associate
Mellon Mays Fellows Professional Network

Courteney Ervin
Program Associate
Mellon Mays Fellows Professional Network

Have you entered the contest to win a $25 Amazon gift card? Join our Facebook Group to find out more!

    Commentary on Racial Incident at Oberlin College 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this editorial do not expressly or implicitly, reflect the views of MMFPN or the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

In Solidarity With Oberlin College
by Giuliani Alvarenga

A few weeks ago, someone at Oberlin College wore a white hood and robe resembling a KKK outfit right outside of the African Heritage House. This was only one of the many hate-related incidents students at Oberlin have recently witnessed. What can be said about the fact that we as students of color continue to experience these ordeals? As member of an organization that works to mitigate the disparities of education amongst people of color, I am appalled by the ongoing events of racism and bigotry taking place in our universities. For the sake of clarity, I wish to chronicle some of the hate-crime events that have taken place in different universities during my undergraduate years alone.

A couple of years ago, the UC system experienced a few hate crime incidents scattered throughout the universities. Students at UC San Diego witnessed the paraphernalia of what looked like a noose and white gown resembling a KKK outfit. During that time, people vandalized UC Davis’ LGBTQ Center with homophobic slurs, and three men assaulted two UC Riverside cis-male gendered students for holding hands as they walked back to campus. All these events took place within one academic year in the UC System alone. Two years later, a few frat boys and sorority girls at the University of Chicago thought it would be “cute” to impersonate their interpretation of what Mexican folks do. They dressed up and performed notions of what Mexican culture looks like— primarily wearing sombreros and dressing up as gardeners. And of course, let us not forget the YouTube video of a student at UCLA that went viral after she overtly disrespected East Asian students by mockingly impersonating them. These events are current and leave us with micro-aggressions and traumas. So how can we form a coalition that stands in solidarity with students whom have undergone these trials and tribulations?

We as Mellon Mays Fellows understand why we are here. We follow Benjamin Mays’ stellar example as he showed perseverance and passion for accessibility to education for people of color. During his time, Dr. Mays experienced overt racism as a student; his working class background could have impeded him from continuing his studies but aside from all these obstacles, he took the initiative to create change within these institutions. Today we uphold his legacy as students dedicated to diversity in higher education. Thus, we must stand alongside our peers at Oberlin College as they confront the recent bigotry found on their campus. We must engage with one another and critically think about the ways we can spread awareness of issues such as these. Unfortunately, racism is a continuing struggle within our society but the will to resist is found in us. Our elders, mentors, and peers all motivate us to continue fighting these hegemonic forces in order to disrupt the system from within.

We as Mellon Mays Fellows understand the disparities in our educational system. This is why we immerse ourselves in these spaces and constantly encourage our peers to continue their work and interests because we have to re-narrate the stories that society coerced onto our lives. Our embodied experiences are testaments to our struggle as members of communities of color who have all experienced systems of oppression in different ways. With that in mind, we must stand in solidarity with one another and remind ourselves that we chose to be Mellons because we believe in our efforts to change academia to a more inclusive space. Never forget that we are dangerous to this society who has historically rendered us invisible. Let our stories, and the stories of our loved ones, remind us of why we are here and that no idiot walking around campus dressed in KKK attire will ever make us feel small. These misfortunate events remind us of our struggles as well as the struggles of generations before us. Thus, we stand together to dismantle these systems of power knowing very well that our work is not futile. My sympathies go out to the students of Oberlin. May you collectively work together as you all process these events of bigotry and racism.   


Successes & Achievements

 G  Pule profile pic 

Meet Gift Pule: I was in the 2011/2012 Mellon Mays cohort at the University of Cape Town. I did my summer program at Williams College in Massachusetts. I completed my senior/ honors year last fall and will be leaving for the US on a Fulbright Scholarship this September for a PhD program in Neuroscience.

I will be the first in my family to obtain a doctoral degree. Like most young South Africans, one of the challenges that I have to overcome is financial security.

I am the last of four children. We lived on minimum wages from my parents, we also grew up in a poor village rife with crime, unemployment, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse. Furthermore, educational opportunities were few and far between and so-called 'silver-platters' were only but a rumor.

The few that were available were highly competitive; however this taught me a valuable lesson about life. One of which is that hard work does pay off, sacrifice today and lead a better life tomorrow. In hindsight, these hardships have made me realize that nothing worth having is ever easily attained and that life is a series of challenges, whose outcomes shape one's character.


kemang profile pic Meet Kemang Wa Lehulere: I was born in 1984 in Cape Town and live in Johannesburg. I have a BA in Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand. I have had solo exhibitions take place at the Goethe-Institut in Johannesburg (2011) and the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town (2009).

Group shows include the Ungovernables, the second triennial exhibition of the New Museum in New York (2012); A Terrible Beauty Become Radios at the Kunsthalle Bern and Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland (2010). I was a co-founder of the Gugulective (2006), an artist-led collective based in Cape Town, and a founding member of the Center for Historical Reenactments in Johannesburg.

I was the winner of the inaugural Spier Contemporary Award in 2007, and the MTN New Contemporaries Award in 2010. I was also the recipient of the Ampersand Foundation residency in New York and the Tollman award for the visual arts in 2012.

MMFPN News & Events

LA mellons


apollo emeka


 "I enjoyed being able to talk with other fellows, and make some contacts."- Sara Wollenstein, Los Angeles, California MMFPN Kickoff

Career Opportunities


28th Annual Empowering Women of Color Conference
May 16-19, 2013
Accra, Ghana

Postgraduate Supervision Conference
April 24-26, 2013
Spier Wine Estate
Stellenbosch, South Africa

34th Annual IATUL Conference
April 14-18, 2013
Cape Town, South Africa

Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity
April 9-11, 2013
Minneapolis, MN


Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT)
Fellowship opportunities

Phillips Academy-Institute for Recruitment of Teachers

Dalhousie University
Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of International Development Studies





The W.E.B. DuBois Scholars Institute

University of Cape Town
Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Humanities
Hampton University
Assistant or Associate Professor
Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences



American  Psychological Foundation Scholarships

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics 

American College of Healthcare Executives Albert W. Dent Graduate  Student Scholarships

Do you have thoughts about a recent conference or details about an upcoming fellowship deadline? Do you want to share information about a recent award or tell the story of your career path?

Contribute to the April Newsletter!

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