September 8, 2021

Carey Slaeker | Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) welcomed a new cohort of DEIS recipients to campus earlier this month. These four recipients represent the sixth cohort of the program, which was established in 2016. The scholarship offers master’s students from non-traditional backgrounds the opportunity to pursue a world-class Brandeis education in the Creative Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Biotechnology. The award includes a full-tuition scholarship, a $10,000 stipend, and full credit toward an individual health insurance plan.

“The DEIS program attempts to redress historical gatekeeping in academia and opens doors for brilliant scholars to become a part of the Brandeis community,” said Kate Slater, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at GSAS. “This year’s DEIS cohort members are complete stand-outs in terms of their research, academic goals, and scholarship. I’m so excited to finally get to meet them in person.”

In addition to the financial support DEIS scholars receive, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences provides guidance and mentoring as the recipients progress through their graduate education.

“I am thrilled to welcome this year's DEIS scholars to campus and look forward to all they will learn during their time at Brandeis,” said GSAS Dean Wendy Cadge. “The DEIS program has helped many graduates move on to promising careers, while placing others in prestigious institutions like Vanderbilt, Columbia University, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania.”

Meet the 2021 DEIS Scholars:

Sydney Adams, English

With a degree in English from Boston University, Sydney Adams wants a deeper knowledge and understanding of literature and of the study of English. As an undergraduate, Adams’ participation in a Public Humanities Undergraduate Fellows (PHUF) program allowed her to harness the skills she had learned from her program and apply them in a professional environment as a Marketing Intern. Adams also participated in social engagement as a Youth Voice Consultant with MENTOR, where she coordinated a town hall, facilitated a youth focus group, and compiled data for the organization. Adams is excited to continue exploring ways to refine her academic skill in order to support her surrounding community. Her academic interest lies in the role of literature in the world, particularly the role of British Literature and that of Black Diaspora Literature. Adams hopes to have the opportunity to refine her knowledge of the history of the English language and develop a more acute understanding of its place in Black Diaspora Literature.

Alma N. Castillo Hernández, Biotechnology

Alma N. Castillo Hernández received a Bachelor of Science from the University of South Florida, earning a dual degree in Behavioral Healthcare and Biomedical Sciences. After graduation, Castillo Hernández gained experience and found direction working in the healthcare field. As a research assistant at the Asthma Clinical Research Center at Boston Children’s, Castillo Hernández recognized a budding interest in exploring the crossroads of business and science, an interest she was able to more fully exploit later as a project coordinator for the Alliance Foundation Trials. In addition, Castillo Hernández is passionate about broadening outreach to traditionally underrepresented communities. As an RA at Children’s working locally with underserved populations, she learned that serving her community at the local level informed her desire to make larger structural change that would funnel resources and trial access to those underserved communities. Ultimately, Castillo Hernández hopes to create a pipeline of resources for underserved and underfunded communities in order to improve health and quality of life through the pursuit of innovative drug discovery.

Jessie Neal, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Jessie Neal received her degrees in History and Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Arizona. In their undergraduate experience, Jessie devoted much of her time to digging deeper into the institutionalized violence that the educational system perpetuates, specifically in the United States. She focuses on how this system has affected the lived realities of Indigenous, Black, Queer and other disenfranchised communities both historically and contemporarily. Jessie enjoys combining historical analysis and feminist gender theory to inform a range of interests including queer social movements and activism, non-monogamy in queer relationships, imposter syndrome in women-aligned people, and how COVID has affected lesbian identity and non-binary subcultures in fashion. Continuing this work at Brandeis, Jessie is thrilled to explore equitable solutions to these issues and dive deeper into her research.

Aisha R. Zamor, English

Aisha Zamor earned a degree from Brown University in English and Africana Studies. Inspired by many years of dance training, Zamor’s research interests began at the intersecting points between performative ethnography, Black Feminisms, Black Literature, and Diaspora Theory. As a Student Research Assistant at Brown’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ), Zamor was enlightened by Black feminist ideologies in literature written by enslaved Black women. Later, participating in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, Zamor engaged in ethnographic and anthropological research by conducting interviews to investigate the occurrence of gender-based violence in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Zamor is excited for the interdisciplinary nature of Brandeis’ English program, and for the opportunity to work with the faculty.