Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010 11:30 am


GRINNELL, IA—Six Grinnell College students are preparing to go to the head of the class as the next generation of college professors. The Mellon Mays Fellows were selected as second-year students through a program made possible with a $500,000 four-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Mellon Mays grant program encourages students, especially those in culturally underrepresented groups, to earn Ph.D.s in the arts and sciences, pursue college teaching careers and demonstrate a commitment to eradicate racial disparities. The Grinnell fellows are mentored by current faculty and receive funding for conference attendance, loan repayment support for graduate school, and other resources that will connect them to a national network of future college professors.

The six aspiring professors join a group of four who were named in 2009. The 2010 Mellon Mays Fellows are: Nidia Bautista, a political science and gender, women’s and sexuality studies major from Sun Valley, Calif.; Sophie Fajardo, an sociology major from Glenwood, Ia.; Lizeth Gutierrez, a sociology and Spanish major from Kenmore, Wash.; Maria Higgs, a biology major from Houston, Tex.; Isaiah Iboko, a gender, women’s and sexuality studies major from Los Angeles, Calif.; and Melissa Vasquez, a sociology and Spanish major from Huntington Park, Calif.

Shanna Benjamin, assistant professor of English and faculty coordinator for the Mellon Mays fellowship program at Grinnell, said that the Mellon fellowships help the aspiring professors to be intentional and deliberate about their choices to teach while conducting independent research under the guidance of faculty mentors.