Grace Berry Award
The Grace Berry Award for Women in Graduate Studies is made possible by a gift to Intercollegiate Women’s Studies (now IFC) from Pomona alumna Margarita Horner in honor of Grace Berry, the founder of the Pomona Branch of the American Association of University Women. Ms. Horner intended the gift to help women students at Claremont Graduate University in pursuing their education. While the award is need-based, it also emphasizes academic excellence. Preference will be given to students who are at a more advanced stage of their studies (i.e., who have already begun work towards a thesis or dissertation), as well as to students whose work is related to Gender & Women’s Studies.
2022/23 Grace Berry Award for Women in Graduate Studies
IFC selected four CGU students to receive the 2022 Grace Berry Award. The $500 award is made possible by a gift from Pomona alum Margarita Horner in honor of Grace Berry, Pomona College faculty member and founder of the Pomona Valley Branch of the American Association of University Women (in 1918). An event honoring the recipients will take place during the 2022-23 academic year. Congratulations to Anisha Ahuja, Akua T.J. Robinson, Arline Votruba, and Qianwen Wei!
Anisha Ahuja, M.A., is a doctoral student in Cultural Studies with an emphasis on Women’s and Gender Studies at CGU. She received a B.A. in Political Science and Feminist Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara and an M.A. in Cultural Studies from CGU. She currently works as a senior writing consultant at CGU’s Center for Writing and Rhetoric and acts as chair of the CWR’s Anti-Discrimination Committee, supporting the implementation of critical pedagogies on campus. Anisha is interested in anti-imperialism and transnationalism as key frameworks to study gender and sexuality. Her work gravitates towards South Asian studies as an entry point to consider the production of the subaltern. Research Topic: As a scholar and dancer, Anisha’s research examines how Indian classical dance is mobilized transnationally by Indian Hindu nationalist governing systems to produce a heterosexual Hindu femininity within the Indian diaspora through a pedagogical and choreographed re-packaging of the form’s syncretic and colonial origins. Through a mixed methods approach that includes an auto/ethnographic analysis of gesture and choreography, archival objects from the Mughal era and British Raj, and postcolonial visual media, Anisha explores the ‘hauntings’ of Indian classical dance through a renewed look at the intertwined colonial and postcolonial histories of Mughal courtesans and sex workers whose erotic labor and experiences under colonial and postcolonial regimes remain marginalized in modern diasporic teachings of classical dance.
Akua T.J. Robinson holds an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies: Africana Psychology, and an MA in Cultural Studies from CGU. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Claremont Graduate University in Cultural Studies and has obtained certificates in Africana Studies and Applied Women and Gender Studies. Akua’s research emphasizes healing, music, culture and spirituality. In 2015 Ms. Robinson’s article “The Healing Element of the Spirituals” published in the Journal of Pan African Studies. She is also a co-author of Amazon Bestseller The Beauty in My Mess Volume 1, published in 2018. Robinson has also contributed to the Black Power Encyclopedia published in 2018. Currently Akua T.J. is a certified Life and Spiritual Coach. Under T.J.’s Wellness she offers Life/Spiritual Coaching, Reiki and Alaafia Ocean Healing Retreat. She is also the founder and executive director of Natural-WE Community, a non-profit which focuses on the healing, empowerment and celebration of Black/African people and culture. T.J. enjoys helping others, singing, the ocean, all things food and spending time with family friends.
Arline Votruba is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Votruba is a Senior Consultant at the CGU Center for Writing & Rhetoric where she has worked as a Writing Consultant since July 2020. During her 21-22 term serving as the President of Graduate Student Council she co-hosted and co-produced the CG(You): Grad Student Council Talks podcast. Votruba received their MA from Iowa State University in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication in 2018 and earned a BA in Literature and Creative Writing from Keene State College in 2016. Votruba’s current research is positioned at the intersection of medical humanities, cultural studies, and gender studies and will contribute to reproductive justice discourse. Through interviews, Votruba’s dissertation centers the experiences of folks living with endometriosis to explore why there remains an average ten-year delay in diagnosis.
Qianwen Wei, MA, is a graduate student from the School of Art and Humanity at CGU. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese language and culture. During her academic journey, she realized women’s status and gender issues in East Asia are what she is passionate about, so she decided to focus on women and gender studies for her master’s degree. She writes, “feminism totally changes my life, giving me a new perspective to see this world. I would love to help women and girls struggling in this patriarchal world like me.” Research Topic: Qianwen’s research focuses on transnational gender justice and East Asian women and culture studies.
2021-22 Grace Berry Award Recipients – Congratulations to Katrina Denman, Adrineh Gregorian, Shawnika Johnson, Zhamilia Klycheva and Melanie Lindsay!
Katrina is a Ph.D. candidate in History at CGU’s School of Arts & Humanities. Her work highlights the contributions of women to the creation of history as an academic discipline in Victorian England, as well as studying women in the history of science and women of color in Victorian Britain. The main goal of her work is to expand traditional perceptions of Victorian women by uncovering their broad range of experiences and identities, many of which relate to key social issues that are still relevant today. She also received her M.A. in History and Archival Studies from CGU and previously worked as a manuscript archivist for Western American History at the Huntington Library. She is currently a senior consultant at CGU’s Center for Writing & Rhetoric and a writing tutor at Harvey Mudd College.
Adrineh is a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Studies at CGU. She has degrees from UCLA and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. For over 16 years, Adrineh Gregorian has been working on projects throughout Armenia, Turkey, and the Caucasus region. She oversees international and local human rights campaigns on issues ranging from human rights, women’s leadership, health education, and disability rights, combining media tools, like documentary films, to promote social change and policy reformation. Her documentary films have reached over 50 countries and participated in 28 festivals across the globe including Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival for “Bavakan” in 2013, and the Doc Film Corner at Cannes for, “Back to Gurun” in 2015.
Shawnika is a doctoral student in the dual PhD/Master’s Degree Program in Politics and Government and Applied Gender Studies at CGU. Her research interests include women and public policy and comparative politics and environmental justice. Shawnika is passionate about the intersectionality of women and public policy; and particularly interested in increasing the number of women in executive public policy positions, thus enabling them to make decisions germane to the health, education, and development of themselves and the families and communities they serve. Shawnika’s professional background includes 20 years of experience in community engagement, community development, land use development, and land use analysis and policy. She has extensive experience in engaging communities, facilitating workshops, conducting research, data collection and conflict resolution. Ms. Johnson is a Lecturer at California State University Polytechnic University, Pomona; and an Adjunct Professor at Los Angeles Community College District where she teaches environmental policy, leadership, urban policy, and social justice courses. Ms. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science in Community Health from California State University, Long Beach; and, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; and a Master of Applied Gender Studies from CGU. Shawnika is also the sole proprietor of Innovative Planning (IP), a social justice, land use planning and environmental consulting firm which specializes in utilizing female professionals to create policy, engage communities in city visioning, and land use and environmental planning processes to create equitable, healthy, and environmentally sustainable communities. In her spare time, Shawnika enjoys water sports, spending time with family and friends, interior design, and inspiring others.
Zhamilia is a Ph.D. candidate at CGU. She is an international student from Kyrgyzstan seeking to be the first person in her family to attain a doctoral degree. Zhamilia has gained her Masters of Science degree in Applied Data Science and International Studies at CGU, Bachelors in Business Administration at American University of Central Asia (AUCA). She holds an Outstanding Scholar Award from CGU, she is a US-CAEF scholarship awardee at AUCA, Capstone Program Finalist as well as a Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) alumna. Throughout her undergraduate life, Zhamilia has closely worked with American Councils for International Education and done a large amount of community service targeting children’s and women’s education in Kyrgyzstan. As one of the very few women from Kyrgyzstan doing a research on Civil Conflict, Zhamilia fiercely believes in women empowerment. She hopes that her story becomes an inspiration to many more women in her community that haven’t been as fortunate as herself.
Melanie is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies at CGU. She positions her current research at the intersection of class, gender, race, and sexuality. She is developing a concept called abolitionist self-care through a close reading of selected works of Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou, and Patrisse Cullors. Her research draws from primary sources, including published and unpublished materials. She is currently utilizing materials from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Lesbian Herstory Archives in N.Y to develop a concept of abolitionist self-care. Through this project she asks whether the performative works of three Black feminists can yield a notion of self-care. If we examine their thinking as expressed through their writings, their performances, and activism, would we be able to locate a practice that robustly sustains lives often lived under conditions of duress? Her project’s two questions are animated by an interest in how Black feminist intellectuals enact their practice ethically and, importantly, how the literature of self-care, which has, in recent decades, come to be understood as a commoditized experience of individualistic wellness. She holds a BA and MA from California State University, San Bernardino, as well as a MA in Cultural Studies from CGU. In addition to crafting a dissertation on self-care, she teaches courses in the civic and community engagement department at the University of La Verne. Before entering academe, she worked as an Employment Services Specialist for the County of San Bernardino for several years. While at CGU, she served as the Vice President of Community Engagement for Sister Citizen which is an organization that addresses the needs and concerns of minoritized women, with a focus on Black women.
2020-21 Grace Berry Award Recipients – Congratulations to Cristal B. Almonte, Jovita Murillo, Monique Posadas and Tamara Wallace Ramirez!
Cristal B. Almonte, M.A, is a first-generation, Latinx, doctoral student in Higher Education and Student Affairs at CGU. As the proud daughter of immigrant parents, she is deeply invested in amplifying the voices of undocumented communities through her scholarship, in the classroom as a future professor, and through policy. Her current research is focused on exploring the experiences of first-generation, undocumented students within higher education and beyond. She aims to inform policy, practitioners, and other researchers through her work to support the access and persistence of undocumented students in higher education. During her time at CGU, she earned her MA in Education, the Allies of Dreamers Certificate, and the Women’s and Gender Studies Certificate. Prior to enrolling in CGU, Cristal was a seventh-grade mathematics teachers in Chaparral, New Mexico. Her experience in the classroom influenced her decision to pursue a PhD in Education. She earned her BA in psychology at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.
Jovita Murillo, MA, MPH, is a doctoral student in CGU’s School of Community and Global Health. She explores the intersection between the built environment, mental and public health, and policy. Her current research addresses the effects of gentrification on female-headed households with children. Her overall goal is to propose policies that can promote healthy development without displacement and create an equitable social infrastructure that promotes health and protects low-income residents.
Monique Posadas, MA, is a doctoral student in the School of Educational Studies at CGU, with research foci in education history and minority graduate student success. She received her MA from Syracuse University in Cultural Anthropology. At San José State University, she received her BA in Anthropology and BS in Nutrition and Food Science, with a minor in Complementary and Alternative Health. She is a proud transfer student from Cabrillo Community College. When she is not helping students achieve their graduate education goals, she is mother to a rambunctious and rebellious three-year-old named Citlali. Monique is an assistant director of the McNair Scholars Program at California State University, Fullerton and the Goldwater Scholarship Campus Representative there. Prior to CSUF, she was the coordinator/advisor for McNair at Cornell University.
Tamara Wallace Ramirez, MA, is a doctoral student of Cultural Studies with a Media Studies emphasis at CGU. Her research interests include semiotics, critical theory, aesthetic expression, media cultures, ecology, engaged learning, and the sustainability movement. She earned a BA in Humanities/Comparative Cultural Studies and MA in Sustainable Communities from Northern Arizona University. She subsequently worked with both departments, becoming an instructor in Comparative Cultural Studies and a facilitator for both the Program for Community, Culture, and Environment and the MA in Sustainable Communities. There, she cultivated collaborations between students, faculty, and diverse community associations to foster mutual learning and sustainable engagement with the land. Tamara is dedicated to working toward a more just, compassionate, and thriving world. She lives in Covina with her husband and their two children.
2019-20 Grace Berry Award Recipients – Congratulations to Jenelle Nila, Whitney Martinez, Shanté Morgan and Surana Singh!
Jenelle Nila is a Ph.D. student in Higher Education and Student Affairs at CGU. She was born, raised, and educated in Pomona. She writes that she “comes from a large family and an even larger community of hardworking immigrants and educators.” She received a B.A. in Sociology and in Chicanx Studies from UC Riverside. Her current research focuses on the voices, experiences and knowledge of first-generation womxn of color in higher education. She is also working toward a Certificate in Applied Women’s Studies and recently completed the “Allies for Dreamers” certificate as well. As a first-generation Latina scholar, Jenelle is focusing her career as an educator to recognize and uplift the voices of womxn of color through research, practice and activism.
Whitney Martinez is a doctoral candidate in CGU’s School of Social Science Policy & Evaluation. She holds a BA and MPA in Public Policy from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany, and an MBA from CGU’s Drucker School of Management. Before coming to CGU, she worked in state government in New York, her home state. She is also a vocalist, and at UAlbany, founded Phenomenal Voices to support the artistic expression of voices of people from disenfranchised groups. At The Claremont Colleges, she has served on the Honnold Mudd Library Board of Student Stakeholders and as president of the Graduate Student Council. Whitney’s current research is on the role of culture in policy outcomes with a focus on small business owners in the Middle East. She has traveled internationally to conduct her research. Whitney plans to continue paying it forward by paving the way for women of color in academia, public affairs and global management through community service and scholarship.
Shanté Morgan is a PhD student in Cultural Studies. Her research interests center on the intersection of race, gender and communication. She currently teaches communication and critical thinking at CSU Channel Islands; before entering academe, she worked as a journalist, reporting on issues ranging from Hollywood typecasting to urban sprawl. She holds BAs in Journalism and Afro-American Studies from CSUN and a MA from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. Among other distinctions, she is the first African-American woman to chair the Ventura County Commission for Women and served as co-chair of the Commission’s Study on the Status of Women and Girls, the first comprehensive examination of this constituency in Ventura County’s history. She is an appointee to the Women’s Economic Roundtable, is founder of the Concerned Parents of Black Children of Moorpark, and is immediate past the CSUN Black Alumni Association.
Surana Singh is a doctoral student in Cultural Studies with a Media Studies emphasis. She holds a BA in History of Art from UC Santa Cruz and M.A. in History of Art from the Pratt Institute. She is the mother of two children and and teaches Art History full-time at East Los Angeles College, where she works to diversify and globalize the field through student mentorship, course and program development, and instruction. Her academic interests in transnationalism and visual cultural studies led her to her dissertation topic on comparative diasporas and contemporary art practices, focusing on artists working in the greater Los Angeles-area.
2018-19 Grace Berry Award Recipients
Ph.D. student, Cultural Studies, CGU
Jung-Hsien is a doctoral student in Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University, where she received an M.A. in English. Her research focuses on Lacanian psychoanalysis, gender theories, and 20th-Century American literature, specifically the role of love and desire in constructing modern discourses of an ethical subject. Before coming to CGU, Jung-Hsien had worked with several ESL programs in Taiwan, the country in which she was born and raised. In addition to working as a writing consultant, she also taught College Composition. Currently, she is working on her dissertation under the guidance of Dr. Eve Oishi and Dr. David Luis-Brown, hoping to find a solution in Lacan’s theory of “feminine jouissance” that addresses all the troubles engendered by contemporary patriarchal/masculine social relations.
DrPH student, School of Community and Global Health, CGU
Mofoluwake’s is a doctoral student in CGU’s School of Community and Global Health. Before coming to CGU, she was a primary care physician in rural, hard-to-reach, and under-served communities in Nigeria. She plans to use her degree to ultimately become Minister of Health in Nigeria.
2017-18 Grace Berry Award Recipients
M.A. student, Applied Women’s Studies and History, CGU
Madison Clark is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, and graduated from Auburn University in Montgomery in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Minor in Theatre. During her academic career at AUM, she began exploring her interest in working within museums, serving as a docent at the Alabama Archives and History Museum and the Freedom Rides Museum, both of which enhanced her teaching skills in the public history sector. She enrolled at Claremont Graduate University in January 2017, pursuing dual Master’s degrees in Applied Women’s Studies and History. She hopes to work with sexual assault victims and/or teach about the history of black women during Reconstruction. In her spare time, she enjoys film and spoken word poetry.
JungJa Joy Yu
Ph.D. student, Women’s Studies in Religion, CGU
JungJa Joy Yu earned a B.S. in Life Science from Sogang University in Seoul, but instead of becoming a scientist, but her interest in helping people experience spiritual formation and in creating social change led her to become a minister and scholar. She earned an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Spiritual Formation, Biblical Studies and Feminism) at Claremont School of Theology; her book, Breaking the Glass Box: A Korean Woman’s Experiences of Spiritual Formation, is based on that M.A. work. She also holds an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary. She has done ministerial work with non-profit and non-governmental organizations globally. She is engaged in a research project on former comfort women and connections with modern-day sex slavery; she will present her research at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in November 2017. Her dissertation focuses on Asian women in ministry and the sexist culture and practices in immigrant evangelical churches in the U.S. She hopes to use her research to raise women’s voices from the margins and to empower women as church leaders.
2016-17 Grace Berry Award Recipient
Ph.D. student, Education, CGU
Marquisha Spencer is a mother, scholar and advocate of social change in education. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Marquisha has a bachelor’s and m
aster’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Marquisha relocated to Claremont, CA to work toward her Doctoral degree in Education with an emphasis in higher education administration and Women and Gender Studies. Prior to her relocation, Marquisha served as a youth and education specialist to middle and high school youth in low socio-economic communities, assisting them in personal and academic endeavors and guiding them through successful high school to college transitions.
Marquisha recently completed her first year of doctoral work with hopes that she has selected an area of research for her dissertation. As previously mentioned she is a mother. She gave birth to her son during her first semester of undergraduate matriculation. Marquisha would like to dedicate her time and research for dissertation purposes, to single, female, student-parents in higher education and levels or the lack thereof, of support from the institutions in which they attend.
Post-doctoral study Marquisha plans to serve as a women and gender studies professor and student services specialist, helping to advance research, policies and institutional supports for female students, especially those of color and more specifically, those with dual-statuses as students and parents. She also hopes to serve as a youth empowerment specialist, motivational speaker and gender equality advocate outside of the professoriate.
2015 – 2016 Grace Berry Award Recipient
Ph.D. student, History, CGU
Elwing Gonzalez is a CGU doctoral student in history. She is currently writing her dissertation on the development of the Vietnamese refugee community of Los Angeles. Her general areas of focus in history are 20th century U.S., ethnicity and immigration, Los Angeles, and urban studies. She is also an 8th grade history teacher, visual artist, and mother of three wonderful boys.