CLASS Awards First Graduate Summer Fellowship for Research Excellence and Diversity

by Jillian Holden


The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) is excited to announce the winners of the first graduate student Summer Fellowship for Research Excellence and Diversity. Created through an anonymous endowment from a CLASS supporter, the fellowships are available to CLASS students of all fields of study.

“This exciting new fellowship provides students with an invaluable boost at a crucial stage in their studies,” Professor and Associate Dean Susan Scarrow said. “It enables them to spend a summer focused on research and writing rather than needing to teach or be employed in other ways.” 

Targeting diversity and research excellence, this program provides financial support to graduate students completing a thesis or a dissertation. In addition to showing financial need, applicants must demonstrate the impact of their research and its real-world application.

“Our first summer fellowship cohort encompasses students from across the broad range of disciplines in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and who came to their studies from a wide range of backgrounds,” Scarrow noted.

This year’s six fellowship winners were chosen by a multi-disciplinary faculty committee:

Tayyba Maya Kanwal is a candidate for a MFA in Fiction at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program where she is an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellow and holds an M.S. in mathematics from the University of Oregon. Kanwal’s work appears in Witness Magazine, Meridian, Quarterly West and other journals, and she is a 2022 Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Fiction and Witness Magazine 2022 Literary Awards runner-up.

With the support of the Class Summer Fellowship, I will be completing my MFA thesis, titled “Talking with Boys, and Other Stories,” a linked short story collection with a feminist angle on a Muslim diasporic culture, often with fabulist elements.

José Peña Loyola is a Ph.D. student in the creative writing concentration at the Hispanic Studies program in the University of Houston. He comes from Ecuador and currently lives in Houston.

This summer, Loyola will do research in the “Archivo Histórico Nacional del Ecuador,” the “Banco Central” archive, the “Augusto Espinosa Polit” library, in Quito and in the municipal archive in Cayambe, Ecuador. Loyola will look for documents regarding the history of the irrigation channel Guangüilqui, the history of land owned by his grandfather and his working relation with the Salesians, and historical accounts regarding ice, fog and rivers in depicting Cayambe volcano or Cayambe town.

Madeleine Maillet is a Ph.D. candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston whose stories have been published in a number of journals and anthologized in Best Canadian Short Stories 2020, and The Journey Prize Stories 27. Maillet has been a fellow of the Fulbright Foundation, the Canada Council of the Arts and the Canada Millennium Foundation.

Over the summer, Maillet will work on a creative narrative set in Cuba. The main character is looking for her biological grandmother, who was involved in the 1970 kidnapping of a diplomat as part of the movement to secure Québec independence from Canada and subsequently fled to Cuba thanks to the intervention of Fidel Castro, leaving a baby behind in Canada.  Maillet plans to access the archives of the Bilbliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec in Montréal to learn more about the transnational history of language and civil rights of this period.

Allison Sáenz is a first-generation Honduran-Costa Rican-American Latina and a Ph.D. candidate in the department of history. Her research spans Latina/o/x, immigration and public history and centers the Central American diaspora in Houston.

This summer, Sáenz will complete local research across Houston’s archival repositories for her dissertation, “Being a U.S. Central American: Immigration, Culture, and Ethnicity in Houston, Post-1965.” Considering her passion for creating scholarship, inside and outside of the classroom, that keeps the voice of the people at the heart of storytelling, Sáenz will also conduct oral histories around Houston to capture the experiences of Central Americans who have historically made this city home.

Oscar Galvez-Soriano is a Ph.D. candidate in economics at the University of Houston. He holds a master’s in economics from El Colegio de Mexico and a B.S. in agricultural economics from Universidad Autonoma Chapingo. His research interests are labor economics and applied econometrics. Before starting his doctorate, Galvez-Soriano was an economist at the research department of the Mexican Central Bank.

With the support of the Class Summer Fellowship, Galvez-Soriano will be conducting research on English language skills and labor market outcomes in Mexico. In one project, Galvez-Soriano will construct a novel database containing nationwide information of elementary school students linked to school panel data and administrative records in adulthood. This allows me to study the long-run effects of exposure to English instruction in elementary school. In another project, I use rich survey data on a large representative sample of Mexicans to quantify the effects of English skills on labor market and well-being measures.

Ashley Warner was born in New Orleans East and grew up in Gwinnett County, Georgia. She is working towards her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Houston.

With the assistance of the CLASS Summer Fellowship, Warner plans to spend the upcoming summer conducting literary research and interviews in order to understand the critical aspects of her creative project: the intraracial hierarchies within New Orleans the significant population of Black Catholics in New Orleans, as well as the legal and illegal economies of the city.