Anayeli Nunez was selected for a Luther Rice Undergraduate Research Fellowship! These fellowships are part of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences comprehensive undergraduate initiative to promote discovery- and inquiry-based education throughout the undergraduate experience at GW. The Luther Rice Fellowships offer support for student research carried out in collaboration with, and under the guidance of, at least one faculty mentor. We sat down with Anayeli to ask her a few questions about the program and her experience with American Studies at GWU. Congratulations Anayeli!
What was the process for the fellowship application like to you?
The process was challenging, it made me truly pause and think about what topics I was most passionate about and where I wanted to take this project. I began with a small idea, something that caught my attention in a reading, and from there I worked closely with my mentor, Professor Peña, to develop it. Preparing for and writing the proposal was a lengthy procedure and took many months to feel complete. Of course, it was also immensely rewarding. Even if I hadn’t received the Fellowship, the process forced me to evaluate my personal and academic goals and brought me closer to professors who I share similar interests with.
What is your research project?
My project will study the physical and ideological movement across the Atlantic Ocean as a result of war and revolution, while focusing on the Atlantic as a border for that movement and as the medium through which communications occurred between Mexico and Europe in order to answer my research question: What was the role of Transatlantic Atlantic immigration in constructing Mexican identity post-revolution? I want to pay attention to the Jewish refugees and the Leftist exiles that immigrated to Mexico during a turbulent era in Europe in order to assess the construction of Mexican identity during the early twentieth-century.
How did your coursework in American Studies prepare you for the application process?
American Studies gave me the foundation for this proposal in many ways. It was in those courses that I first encountered historical topics through a cultural studies lens which became central to my project idea. During the application process I found myself having to be creative in order to link my ideas and different interests together, so I referred back to my past AMST class readings and materials many times to look at how other scholars and authors had framed their work.
How did your mentor help you with the process?
I am very fortunate to have a mentor who provided guidance and encouragement at every stage of the process. I went to Professor Peña because I knew I wanted to work with borders and transnational history, and because I had read some of her work and found it inspiring and what I would want my research to resemble one day. We met at various points in the process, from developing a topic and research question to gathering sources and the final draft of the proposal leading up to submission. I am confident that moving forward with the project I will be able to continue counting on her expertise and advice.
How do you plan to incorporate American Studies into your future?
I want to pursue a graduate program in History where I plan to continue applying cultural studies themes especially where they have perhaps been previously overlooked in more traditional areas of history. Therefore, even if I don’t directly focus on American Studies I want to continue using what I have learned and retain all the incredible concepts and skills my professors have taught me. American Studies has truly made an impact and altered the way I work to understand other fields of study as well as regular aspects of everyday life.
What is your favorite American Studies course?
All of my American Studies courses have all been incredible and pushed me to think and study things differently so picking a favorite is difficult, but at the top of the list are Borders and Boundaries with Professor Peña and Critiquing Culture with Professor Orenstein.
What advice would you offer to students looking to apply for this fellowship?
To students looking to apply to the fellowship I would truly encourage them to do so! I would advise them to be patient, with themselves and with the process, and to make sure to pick a topic that is something that they genuinely enjoy because they’re going to be spending a lot of time on it.