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Alexandra Odom ’16

"I love teaching, but I also really love research."

At Grinnell, Alex received mentorship and guidance through her Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, a program designed for underrepresented students to increase the diversity of faculty in higher education.

After winning a Fulbright award, Alex deferred her admission to a doctoral program in history at the University of North Carolina in order to study for a year at Queen Mary University of London. London is one of her favorite places and the place where she studied abroad for a semester during her third year at Grinnell. In London she dove deep into research at museums and archives and emerged with the confidence to pursue her ideas.

Mentored Research

Alexandra Odom ’16 in front of a tree with autumn leaves

“In my first year, Professor Al Lacson wrote on one of my papers, ‘Come see me in my office.’ I thought, ‘Oh my god, my paper was so bad.’ He said, ‘Your paper is really good. I was wondering if you had ever considered being a Mellon Mays Fellow? You’d be able to do a longer research project. They work with students who want to become professors. Is that something you think you’d be interested in?’

“It was really through Mellon that I realized that being a professor at the collegiate level and doing research and publishing my own material was something that I would actually be interested in. There was a point that I was like ‘I love teaching, but I also really love research,’ and I didn’t realize that there was a career where I could kind of meld the two.

“I think one of the good things about being a Mellon [fellow] at Grinnell is that they’re really intentional about not only telling you about what the realities of being a professor are, but letting you know, ‘Hey, this is actually how you can go about getting it done and these are specific tools that will help you to be successful.’”

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