Students receive Graduate School Exploration Fellowship

Levi Herr ’22 and Cleo Sullivan ’21 have received the Graduate School Exploration Fellowship (GSEF).

The two-year fellowship for students of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) begins the summer before their junior year and provides students with mentoring, career development, and experiential research opportunities. The fellowships are supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Cleo Sullivan '21 and Levi Herr '22
Cleo Sullivan ’21 (left) and Levi Herr ’22

“I was thrilled upon hearing I had received the award,” Herr said. “This was significant for me; I hope it will help me determine what I will pursue in my postgraduate studies.”

“When I got the email telling me I had gotten the GSEF, I literally jumped to my feet and hugged the closest person to me,” Sullivan said. “I had been thinking about and working on the application for about a year, so it felt like all of my hard work had paid off. I feel so honored to receive a fellowship.”

According to the ACM, the program includes participation in two annual summits in Chicago with GSEF students from across the 14 ACM colleges, on-campus structured mentoring opportunities and enrichment workshops with faculty and staff during their junior and senior years, and a paid summer research internship on the campus of a Big Ten Academic Alliance institution or the University of Chicago, in which GSEF fellows work directly with graduate professors or graduate students in their field to give them first-hand experience with the benefits of graduate training.

Both students are already thinking about their upcoming internship and research opportunities.

Sullivan, who is a sociology and anthropology major and a Spanish minor, wants to research a topic related to race and ethnicity, especially focusing in on the Latinx population or mix-race identity studies.

“This program means a lot to me because ACM students, like myself, get the chance to meet each other and discuss what their passions are,” Sullivan said. “I think it’s so important that colleges provide opportunities for their historically marginalized and first-generation students to meet in a space where they can relate to each other on similar problems and feel comfortable in a space with students just like them. This program provides a space where students can feel totally proud of their achievements because they know that they earned the fellowship fair and square.”

Herr, who is planning on majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology and English and creative writing, wants to research representations of mental illness in literature.

“Mental illness is something I have dealt with in one way or another for most of my life, and I hope this research experience will provide me insight and understanding into perceptions of mental illness throughout history,” Herr said.

This fellowship program was created for students interested in pursuing further study and research in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and arts.

Students who have received the GSEF in the past include Sandra Gomez ’18, Randy Santiago ’18, Katie Alvarez ’18, Jessica Meis ’19, John Bogucki ’20, and Kourtney Ellis ’20.