MMUF Cohort 5

2012-2013 Mellow Mays Undergraduate Fellows

(from left to right: Faraz Zaerpoor, Jaimis Ulrich, Kenia Saldana, Mikel Guereca, and John Paul Paniagua)

Mikel Guereca ‘14

Hometown:  MN
Major(s):  History
Graduate Interest: Latin America; Race, Ethnicity, & Immigration; Intellectual & Cultural Labor and Gender
Scholarships & Academic Awards: John Greenleaf Whittier Merit Scholarship, Phi Alpha Theta (History Honor Society), Sigma Tau Delta (English Honor Society), Whittier College Dean's List, and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Natale Zappia, History
Project Title: Reconquista o(r) Assimilation: Examining Race, Class, and Gender in Mexican Segregated Schools
Who is an American citizen? Does eating bread instead of tortillas make you an American? In the early nineteen hundreds in southern California, eating bread would have made you more American than eating tortillas and beans. My project is not about food, but the racism and segregation numerous Mexican immigrants faced entering into the United States. Specifically, my project encompasses schools built to segregate Mexican students and “Americanize” them. Many of these schools were dubbed “Americanization” schools because they promoted American values, including eating bread instead of tortillas. One of the first schools built was the South Raymond School, in Pasadena. The school was constructed because Anglo parents wanted to separate their white children from Mexican children. A decision made clearly because of race. This informal segregation became the basis for several Mexican segregated schools to be planned and built in southern California.

My project uses a transnational framework to identify Mexican students’ attitudes toward the segregated schools and how Anglo Americans identified Mexican Americans. Using interviews, newspapers, diaries, school board minutes, teacher’s curriculums, and Mexican consulate memos, I will demonstrate the struggle between Anglos and Mexicans, and Americanization programs and the Mexican Consulate. Just as Americanization programs built schools, so too did the Mexican Consulate to promote a Mexican identity. This struggle between Anglos and Mexicans, or Americanization schools and Mexican Consulate schools shows the fluidity and malleability of southern California and Mexican Americans.


John Paul Paniagua ‘14

Hometown:  Whittier, CA
Major(s):  History, Economics
Graduate Interest: Colonialism, Imperialism, Borderlands
Scholarships & Academic Awards: Dean's List, John Greenleaf Whittier Scholarship, Emma Strain Scholarship, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Natale Zappia, History
Project Title: Remove Them from Where They Can Be Dangerous: Apache Exile from Northern New Spain
This study seeks to more deeply understand the cultural, religious, and political contingencies, which made the exile of over 2,000 Apache slaves possible in New Spain between the 18th and 19th centuries.  Using colonial receipts, military intelligence, and letters, this paper shows the progression of Colonial Spanish policy in of itself and its manifestation on the fringes of empire.  Further, the paper attempts to highlight how this traffic affected change through out the American Southwest and Atlantic world by highlighting the existence of Apaches in Cuba and their involvement in insurrections against the Spanish empire.


Kenia Saldana ‘15

Hometown: Los Angeles
Major(s):  Sociology and Spanish
Graduate Interests: Urban Sociology &Social Inequality
Scholarships & Academic Awards:  John Greenleaf Whittier Academic Merit Scholarship
MMUF Mentor:  Dr. Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez & Dr. Laura McEnaney
Research Project Title: Nuestrohood: The Racial Interplay Amongst Latina and Black Women in Public Housing Projects

The people who live in public housing are an understudied group compared to other populations with similar demographics. This might be due to the lack of access and information towards this group of people. Sociologists, historians, and economists have studied housing projects in the past, but most of it is out of date with most of it being published more than a decade ago. Former research is focused on young men and their outcomes due to their negative living environment. Many of the studies that focus on men fail to represent women even when they play a pivotal role in the community. However some researchers do write about women and their importance in maintaining and supporting their family unit or as being leaders of the community in the midst of living in an impoverished neighborhood, but they focus solely on Black or Latinas. With the changing demographics of the people who live in the “projects” it is important to study how the different racial groups have managed to live in the same neighborhood. Through oral histories this study seeks to find how Latina and Black women have managed to maintain and support their families or themselves in a public housing project in Los Angeles County. More importantly, how have interracial relationships among women in housing proves served to enhance or hinder their survival? Have language and racial stereotypes impeded women to come together to make their living environment a safe and healthy place for their children? From preliminary conversations it is strongly suggested that many women hold negative feelings towards the women of another race, usually holding them accountable for the decay of their living environment thus preventing them to fully come together and share valuable knowledge that in the long run will help both racial groups.


Jaimis Ulrich ‘15

Hometown: Hacienda Heights, CA
Major(s): Anthropology with a minor in Religious Studies
Graduate Interests: Gender Studies
Scholarships & Academic Awards: Outstanding Leadership and Service in Anthropology, Theta Alpha Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Philanthropy Scholarship, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, Whittier College Scholarship, John Greenleaf Merit Scholarship, and Norris Foundation Endowment
MMUF Mentor:  Dr. David Iyam
Research Project Title: Pay-to-Play: A Rite of Passage in the Los Angeles Music Scene

This ethnography explores the role of a phenomenon in the Los Angeles music scene commonly known as “pay-to-play.” Pay-to-play is when musicians are required to pay for stage time in order to play on the stage. Although many musicians are against it, many still participate in it. Why? What purpose does it serve? Are musicians desperate for stage time? Do they equate playing in Los Angeles with being a success? Or, is it the illusion of stardom and fame that propels these artists to participate in what they are against? I suggest that, although these reasons may justify the participation in pay-to-play among some musicians, the phenomenon first and foremost serves as a “rite of passage” that not only authenticates upcoming musicians as “professional,” but is also essential to the very shaping of their identity.


Faraz Zaerpoor ‘14

Hometown: Redondo Beach, CA
Major: Physics
Graduate Interest: Computing Science
Scholarships and Academic Awards: John Greenleaf Whittier Academic Merit Scholarship, Dean's List, and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Damien Martin
Project Title: Quantum Emulation: A Classical Exploration of Shor's Integer Factorization Algorithm
Quantum computation is a rapidly growing field that promises great leaps in efficiency in the solution of several classes of problems. Quantum computers employ the principles of quantum superposition to quickly solve classically difficult problem. As hardware improvements allow the implementation of quantum algorithms over progressively greater state spaces, it becomes important to be able to model their behavior using available classical computing hardware to guide future development. This talk explores the classical emulation of quantum computation through a case study of Shor’s integer factorization algorithm. Integer factorization is an important problem in coding theory, cryptography, and discrete mathematics, and Shor’s algorithm offers an exponential speedup over the best classical algorithms. The talk describes Shor’s algorithm for a non-mathematical audience, with special emphasis on the quantum Fourier transform, its key component, as well as how it can be emulated classically, and where the unavoidable inadequacies of such emulation lie.