Two graduate students win nearly $100,000 in fellowship awards

First-generation college students in sociology and education received the Ford Foundation awards to support their research

By Tess Eyrich

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Two graduate students at the University of California, Riverside, have been named 2019 Ford Foundation Fellows. The fellowships, awarded in a national competition administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, provide UCR’s recipients — both first-generation college students — with a combined total of nearly $100,000 in funding to support their original research.

Katherine Maldonado, a doctoral student in UCR’s Department of Sociology, received the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, which includes $72,000 in graduate funding over three years.

A Watts native and UCLA graduate, Maldonado examines the experiences of formerly gang-involved women who are now mothers. In her research, she explores how these women — who often bear stigmatizing marks of their previous gang affiliations, such as tattoos and criminal records — navigate their lives after leaving gangs, as well as what kinds of resources are and could be made available to better help them succeed.

Maldonado will use her fellowship funding to expand the breadth of her research, which until now has focused primarily on women living in Los Angeles. She’ll cross the border, traveling to Tijuana for a better understanding of what happens to formerly gang-involved mothers who are deported from the U.S. and separated from their families.

Arturo Nevárez, a doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Education, received the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, which includes $25,000 in graduate funding over one year.

In his doctoral studies, Nevárez looks at the classroom-level implementation of ethnic studies courses for high schoolers. He aims to build on ethnic studies scholarship to highlight what needs to be part of these courses — as well as who should be teaching them — to maintain their transformative potential for students.

As part of his dissertation research, Nevárez works with ethnic studies teachers and their students at a high school in L.A., tracking what students learn based on the backgrounds and teaching approaches of their instructors.

Maldonado and Nevárez are among 133 recipients of 2019 Ford Foundation Fellowships. The awards seek to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

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