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, CA
Major(s): Sociology, Child Development & Spanish Minors
Graduate Interest: Sociology
Scholarships & Academic Awards: Deans List, Outstanding Leadership for Jumpstart, Certificate in Recognition of Excellent Facilitating in U.P.L.I.F.T, and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Overmeyer-Velazquez
Project Title: Social Reproduction in Housing Projects
This study will use a case study approach to investigate urban social change and social stasis in Nickerson Gardens, one of the oldest public housing complexes in the United States. The idea of having a public housing program served to provide housing for the poor, therefore a lot of the public housing projects were built on cleared slums (Kleniewski & Thomas, 2011). True to most housing projects studied across the United States, “overcrowding, unemployment, alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, and racism plague the community” (MacLeod, 1987). For the past few decades the housing projects have been experiencing an ethnic demographic change, while still remaining one of the most known poverty hubs in the city. The housing projects population has been shifting from primarily African Americans to primarily Hispanics. How do longtime residents feel about the demographic change? Has this affected the social relationships within the residents? How is it possible that while the population in the projects has shifted ethnically, the residents still experience concentrated poverty, unemployment, low education, and drug abuse? What role does the social reproduction theory have in this?  To answer these questions, I will conduct oral histories of long-term residents and collect data from the archives of the housing projects. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, this case will help us better understand the complexity of social reproduction.


Jaimis Ulrich ‘15

Hometown:  Whittier, CA
Major(s):  Medical Anthropology
Graduate Interest: Sociology, Anthropology
Scholarships & Academic Awards: Dean's List, John Greenleaf Merit Scholarship, Whittier College Grant, Norris Foundation Endowment, and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Julie Colins-Dogrul, Dr. David Iyam
Project Title: Payola: Understanding Power and Influence in the Culture Industry of Music
This study questions the negative effects of payola on pop-culture with a focus on the Los Angeles music scene. Payola is an illegal practice most commonly associated with bribery, demonstrated when someone in a position of power is offered money or other goods in exchange for music promotion. The emphasis of this study will be on a type of payola called “pay-to-play.” Pay-to-play is an agreement made through a booking agent, between a band and venue that guarantees the band will pay a contracted amount of money in exchange for stage time through the sale of tickets. This study examines payola and the evolution of its practice from the 19th century to the present and incorporates critical theory and the concept of a “culture industry” driven by payola.  Power struggles between those who agree to pay-to-play and those who refuse to play-to-play will be analyzed by looking for what the basis of the power is. Is it money or principal? Do the non pay-to-play players have any power at all?  Is there power in their authenticity? I suggest that pay-to-play serves mostly to support those in positions of power, like venue owners and booking agents, by allowing them to directly profit from band ticket sales, while simultaneously monopolizing the music scene through pay-to-play by only allotting stage time to the bands that are willing to pay for it. To illustrate my argument, I will include ethnographic fieldwork, specifically participant observation of two local bands in the Los Angeles music scene: one that takes part in pay-to-play practices and one that does not. The goal of this study is to move toward explanations of why pay-to-play continues to be a common practice within the Los Angeles music scene even though its agency lay within a select group and discover if there are possible solutions to aid in a more egalitarian way of music promotion. 


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.

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