CCNY adjunct Mariposa Fernandez wins $25K Letras Boricua Mellon Fellowship

City College of New York Adjunct Professor of Black Studies Mariposa Fernandez is among the initial cohort of 20 Puerto Rican writers awarded Letras Boricua Mellon fellowships by the Flamboyan Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Each award includes a $25,000 grant.

An award-winning poet, writer, educator and activist, Fernandez has been a CCNY faculty member since January 2018. She teaches AfroLatina/o History and Culture, and AfroLatina/o Literature, a course she developed. She is also a member of the Africana and African American Studies Department and the Women Studies Department at Lehman College. 

A first-of-its-kind fellowship, Letras Boricuas was created to identify, elevate, and amplify the voices of emerging and established Puerto Rican writers on the island and across the United States diaspora. 

“This is an unprecedented fellowship,” she said. “I am overjoyed to be in the inaugural cohort, among such amazing Puerto Rican writers.”

Fernandez will use her fellowship’s $25,000 grant to publish a full-length book of poems and a collection of stories. In addition, she hopes to help young people in Puerto Rico and the diaspora. 

“I hope I can continue to do the work of being a bridge,” she said. “I am a cultural worker. Cultural workers use art and culture as organizing tools.”

Fernandez’ many influences include the pioneers of the Nuyorican and Black Arts Movement, including poets Pedro Pietri , Ntozake Shange, Sandra Maria Esteves, Tato Laviera, Louis Reyes Rivera, Cenen Moreno and others.

Fernandez believes that her work as a writer, scholar and activist go hand in hand. 

“In my teaching, I try to present the vastness of who we are to our students, to inspire them to write their own stories,” she said. “But we need to do more than write. We need to be able to think critically and take action.”

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.

About the Flamboyan Foundation
Guided by the belief that all children deserve the opportunity to live a fulfilling life, the Flamboyan Foundation works to ensure every child in the US and Puerto Rico receives an outstanding education. In D.C., Flamboyan is accelerating student learning by helping educators and school systems transform their relationships with families. In Puerto Rico, Flamboyan is ensuring students are reading in Spanish on grade level by third grade while building a thriving philanthropic and nonprofit sector, which includes arts and cultural organizations. 

About the Flamboyan Arts Fund
The Flamboyan Arts Fund is a partnership between Flamboyan Foundation, Lin-Manuel Miranda, his family, and the Hamilton musical to preserve, amplify, and sustain the arts in Puerto Rico. Since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017, many artists and arts organizations like museums, theaters, arts education programs, and music venues are at risk of cutting back services or closing. The fund supports all facets of the arts community including music, theater, visual arts, dance, literature, and youth arts education to ensure that the arts and culture continue to flourish during the rebuilding of Puerto Rico.

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.8% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.

Syd Steinhardt/Jay Mwamba
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