PhD candidate Vanessa Segundo has been awarded a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for the upcoming academic year. One of 38 recipients nationwide, Segundo is the fourth student in UC Davis history and the first student in the School of Education’s history to be honored with this fellowship. Prof. Danny Martinez and Prof. Cati de los Ríos are also former Ford Foundation Fellows.
Through its Fellowship Programs, the Ford Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties, maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and increase the number of professors who value diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. Segundo joins a network of Ford Fellows that offers resources such as mentorship relationships and opportunities for collaboration through an exclusive conference. This fellowship funding will allow her to concentrate solely on research during her final year of study in the Graduate Group in Education’s PhD program.
Segundo’s dissertation research echoes the Ford Foundation’s commitment to diversity in education. “My dissertation will contribute to the limited knowledge regarding the history, organizational models, impact and role of Latinx/Chicanx cultural centers,” said Segundo. “As Latinx/Chicanx students—the fastest growing school-age population—pursue college degrees, it is critical for institutions to integrate culturally relevant policies and practices that empower students to succeed. The aim of my research is to examine these centers as a tool for and of ‘cognitive justice.’ These spaces are more than educational backdrops. They are a platform essential to helping students achieve transformative change.”
Segundo views this fellowship as “a manifestation that I am at the right place, at the right time, with the right people, doing the right work.” She credits her success to the support and mentorship she has received from Drs. Marcela Cuellar, Maisha Winn, Alexis Patterson, Susy Zepeda, Danny Martinez, Cati de los Ríos, Lawrence Winn, Patricia Quijada, Margarita Jimenez-Silva, Cynthia Carter Ching, Lina Mendez and Cirilo Cortez, and fellow School of Education PhD candidates Bernadette Best-Green and Kaozong Mouvangsou. “I am grateful for this fellowship,” she said. “It reinforces my commitment to produce research that contributes to both the academy and to the communities I center in my work.”