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Raquel Escobar, Historian, Receives Mellon/ACLS Public Fellowship

Raquel Escobar

Alumna, Raquel Escobar (PhD, History, '20), has been awarded a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellowship, one of only twenty-two nationwide.

Now in its tenth year, the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program places recent humanities PhDs in staff positions at partnering agencies in government and the non-profit sector for two-year appointments. The program promotes the visibility and value of the humanities PhD beyond the academy by offering opportunities for PhDs to contribute to the public good while gaining career-building experience in the fields of policy, community development, conservation, arts and culture, and media.

Escobar will be the Public Engagement Manager in the Humanities Action Lab (HAL) and will oversee HAL’s new national fellowship program for faculty, students, and community partners at Minority-Serving Institutions.

She learned about the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows while participating in a Graduate College Career Diversity workshop. “When I read the HAL description, it sounded like my dream job. It merged my training with history, memory, and public humanities, but with a much broader impact,” says Escobar.

The emphasis on collaboration within and between communities was particularly appealing. Her dissertation looks at indigenous politics and political mobilization in the Americas in the mid-20th century. Throughout her graduate research, Escobar ensured that her historical research connected her to the communities she wanted to serve—indigenous and other underrepresented and historically disenfranchised people in the US.

While at Illinois, she also participated in the Graduate College Summer Predoctoral Institute. “No one in my family had ever been to college,” said Escobar, “the SPI network became essential to understanding how to navigate an R1 university, the academy, and my department.”

Read more about Rachel Escobar, her journey at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and her plans for the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellowship on our GradLIFE blog.

The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program is made possible through the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Awardees receive $70,000 per year, employer-based health insurance, a relocation allowance, and up to $3,000 in professional development funds.

For more information about the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow program, visit the Graduate College’s Fellowships Finder database and the ACLS website.