Honors Students Tapped for Prestigious Fellowship

Sept. 16, 2019

By Christina L. Cárdenas
Communications and Marketing Specialist
Office of Academic Programs

monique garcia
Monique Garcia

Two students enrolled in the University Honors Program have been chosen to participate in a prestigious fellowship designed to encourage underrepresented students to pursue Ph.D. programs.

Juniors Monique Garcia and Andres Muñoz-Ramirez were selected to take part in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program. MMUF serves as the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s centerpiece program in its overall mission to increase diversity in faculty in institutions of higher learning.

“I am very excited for our Honors students who are participating in the program, because they represent our diverse students who will later become faculty members leading new research and understanding in their fields with a particular sensitivity to traditionally marginalized groups,” said Dr. Sandra Pérez, director of the University Honors Program.

Garcia, a history major with a minor in Chicano/a Studies, plans to pursue a master’s degree and a doctorate with the hopes of becoming a history professor. She applied for the fellowship because she believed in is mission and is resolved to become a change-maker herself.

“When I first received the news that I was accepted into this distinguished program I could not help but cry tears of joy and relief,” Garcia said. “I could make a difference in the world by sharing what I love with others. … This fellowship gives me a boost as it provides me with the monetary resources that I would not have had; research opportunities; faculty support; and other tools.”

andres munoz ramirez
Andres Muñoz-Ramirez

Muñoz-Ramirez, also a History major, said he applied for the fellowship because he is consistently searching for new ways to be involved in school work and programs. He has always dreamed of becoming a professor, so when he heard of this fellowship, he jumped at the opportunity to reach his goal.

“I am hoping to gain more knowledge when it's time to apply to graduate school and finding a focus when it comes to my research,” Muñoz-Ramirez said. “Most importantly I hope to gain lasting connections with other fellows from the other CSU campuses and from the other schools when we go the fall conference in October.”

Garcia and Muñoz-Ramirez credit what they’ve learned in the University Honors Program for preparing them to be successful candidates for the fellowship. Garcia credits her HONR 302T class with Dr. Julián Jefferies, and HONR 210A and 210B with Dr. Paulo Simões with shining a light on a problem she didn’t previously know existed.

“I realized that the history that I learned when I was younger was incomplete and biased,” Garcia said. “This gave me an even stronger drive to become a university professor, as I hope to be able to integrate the knowledge that I have gained in my major and minor courses to study the history of minority groups and how societal views can impact how we perceive others.”

Muñoz-Ramirez said there were an array of tools he learned as an Honors student that has prepared him for the fellowship, including time management and keeping track of his workload. However, the relationships he’s built have been the most helpful so far.

“I think what I learned from my time here at CSUF and the Honors program that has assisted me has been creating networks with the professor as well as faculty,” Muñoz-Ramirez said. “I find that having people on your side who are interested in the work you are doing and care about how your day went helps keep you motivated.”

As Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows, Garcia and Muñoz-Ramirez will meet regularly with a group of advisors – often faculty and administrators – and participate in co-curricular work throughout their junior and senior years, according to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Students in the fellowship receive graduate school preparation by regularly convening with one another, usually during the summer. When they go to graduate school, they receive more support through Mellon Mays grants and programs, and there are also programs around early career faculty support.

“There is much hope in the work that our students will do to foster greater understanding of our diverse society, better serve all our students and improve access to higher education for the communities they represent,” Pérez said.