Mellon Mays Fellow
Vannessa Velez, a native New Yorker, moved down the eastern seaboard to attend a small liberal arts college in Atlanta. Initially determined to stay far from undergraduate research, she was successfully wooed after winning a competitive fellowship to study Holocaust memorials in Berlin, Germany. There, she lived in a multicultural neighborhood with a majority Middle East and North Africa population. Her new friends taught her not only about their struggles as immigrants in Germany, but about the complex political and social circumstances in their own nations. After the fellowship ended, Vannessa returned to Atlanta for a year but became disillusioned with her Western History track. Realizing that she wanted to switch her focus to the Middle East and pursue a PhD, Vannessa transferred to City College to make this a reality.