For the 2018-2019 academic year, I was fortunate to be one of the doctoral students selected to be a part of the Mellon Fellowship for Reaching New Publics in the Humanities. This fellowship program is funded through the UW Simpson Center for the Humanities and is part of the broader mission to extend teaching and scholarship in the humanities to broader publics, especially the historically vulnerable and marginalized.
The aim of the Mellon Fellowship for Reaching New Publics in the Humanities is for doctoral students to learn the invaluable role of two-year colleges in higher education. Fifty percent of University of Washington graduating majors in the humanities, broadly defined, are transfer students from two-year colleges. Also, two-year colleges nearly serve half of all undergraduates, including fifty percent of undergraduates of color and in increasing proportion of low-income students. Yet the the value of two-year colleges and how they are intertwined with research universities are often overlooked.
Each Mellon Fellow for Reaching New Publics was matched with a community college faculty member in a shared discipline. The point was to shadow them, regularly attending their classrooms and faculty meetings to gain a better understanding of the campus, the students, the pedagogical approaches, and the role and responsibilities of the faculty.
I was immediately drawn to the Reaching New Publics program, given my own history as a community college student who transferred to a research university. My mentor was Anthony Ferrucci, a philosophy professor at South Seattle College and Green River College and a former colleague in the UW . During 2018-2019 academic year, I regularly visited Green River College and South Seattle College. We also attended the Teaching Hub sessions at the 2019 APA Central Division Meeting and APA Pacific Division Meeting.
During my year-long tenure as a Mellon Fellow for Reaching New Publics, I contributed to two posts to the Simpson Center's Reimagining the PhD blog. My first post, What Kind of Academics Should We Be? grappled with the under-appreciation and stigma of community colleges and its devaluation as a desirable career choice after the PhD program. My second post, Transfer Students and the Problem of Being 'Outliers' in Universities, was about the common challenges of being a transfer student and some of the ways faculty in community colleges and four-year institutions can make the transition process for incoming transfer students easier. Both posts are derived from my own experiences and thoughts surrounding community colleges as I progress forward in the PhD program as an educator and aspiring academic.
My experience as a Mellon Fellow for Reaching New Publics was also part on an article in the University of Washington's Perspectives newsletter.