The Appel Fellowship for First Year Students

The Appel Fellowship provides first-year students up to $3500 for domestic projects and up to $5000 for international projects to support purposeful, independent experiences that culminate in a meaningful writing project. This Fellowship is meant to enhance the first-year experience by encouraging students to engage in independent writing projects that have the potential to be life-transforming. The ultimate goals of the Appel fellowship are to give students an opportunity to experience writing in a way that may shape the course of their lives in new and exciting ways and to encourage students to share these experiences with others by crafting a written project.

Please visit CMC’s Sponsored Internship page to apply.

Appel Fellowship Faculty Advisor Guide

Story: Appel Fellowship takes CMC student writers across the globe


2019-2020 Appel Fellows

Axel Ahdritz
Axel Ahdritz '22

In the summer of 2019, I collected data and stories from refugee communities to form a book of poems called "On Belonging." The book attempts to understand what “belonging” means for people adjusting in foreign circumstances, and there is perhaps no better sample group from which to learn about this than the refugee community, who, ripped from their own homes and planted in a new area, are asked to find belonging for themselves in their memories, their bodies, their families, their systems, and their dreams for the future. These are the basis of the book's five chapters. The study spanned two contexts in two different continents. The first leg of my trip was in Sweden, where I studied the majority Somali/Bosnian refugee communities in the Tensta district of Stockholm. The second leg of my trip was in Jordan, where I worked as a music instructor in a small school out in the desert by the Syrian border as well as working as a plumber and a handyman in a church school in a bedouin area of Na’ur.

T.J. Askew
TJ Askew '22

The goal of my Appel Fellowship project was to retrace the adventures of Chris McCandless to gain a new perspective on his philosophy while experiencing the complete immersion in nature McCandless held so dear. I started in Alaska, where I set off to explore the same Alaskan Wilderness McCandless did and to see the bus he spent so much of his time. Next, I backpacked along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Sierra Nevadas, where I experienced the unparalleled power of nature. Finally, I kayaked the sun-baked Colorado River McCandless paddled South to Mexico. From overcoming my fears to discovering what I am capable of, I have grown more this summer than any other period of my life.

Raj Bhutoria
Raj Bhutoria '22

Traveling across 5 regions, 8 states, and 14 cities in India, my project sought to understand the distinct "Indian" identity, the evolution of its society and politics, and the current state of its economy. As the son of two Indian immigrants, my travels have allowed me to better understand myself, my heritage, and how I fit-in to one of the world's oldest cultures and peoples. From the breath-taking landscapes of the Himalayas to the sprawling urban den of Mumbai, I realized India’s immense beauty and its secret superpower: its people. In my upcoming book, Return to the Motherland, I share the stories of India’s people — their beliefs, ideas, and dreams — and how they are changing the world’s largest democracy for the better despite extreme hardship and systemic oppression. Through the Appel Fellowship, I have begun a life-long process of understanding India and myself. As I continue this journey, I hope to provide insights into India that will allow community members and young Indo-Americans to better understand Bharat Mata (Mother India) and their own identities.

Alex Futterman
Alex Futterman '22

This summer I traveled to two different trail ultra-marathons to interview ultra runners in an effort to find what motivates them to tackle these extreme physical challenges. An ultra-marathon is a running race longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). I talked to athletes racing events ranging from 40 miles to 100 miles. Through this project, I gained a deeper understanding of the mindset of those who push themselves to the extremes of fitness. While I found that everyone's motivations and inspirations were a little different I spotted some interesting trends in the types of people running. The races I attended took place on trails/ in forests in Wellington, New Zealand and Port Macquarie, Australia. While I was not interviewing runners, I was exploring the unique culture and people who resided in the areas I was fortunate enough to visit. I learned equally as much interviewing runners as I did in my experience traveling alone and navigating through a foreign landscape.

Maria Gutierrez-Vera
Maria Gutierrez-Vera '22

I spent my summer in my childhood city of Hermosillo, Mexico, under the care of my nana and extended family. My summer days were calm, interjected with the smells and spices of each meal my nana cooked, and the visitors that streamed through her house. Often, we spent out afternoons laughing and sorting through old albums, my grandmother reminiscing and sharing all of her old stories then. There was an understated beauty in the evenings spent out on the patio – my nana and I would watch the sun set the city aglow as little kids raced up and down our street.

Maddie Kwun
Maddie Kwun '22

For my Appel Fellowship Project, I wrote a short children’s book about a young Korean American girl traveling to South Korea for the first time. I was born in Salt Lake City and grew up in Park City, Utah. I was not exposed to a “diverse” community. When I went to Korea in 2008, I experienced culture shock. For the first time, I was surrounded by so many Asians with different language, customs, and foods. After my trip, I noticed that my aunt was very active in the Asian American community. She taught me a lot about being a Korean American as well as being an Asian American woman. Sadly, two years ago, she passed away. She inspired me to be a proud Asian American which sparked my interest in writing something about who I am. Also, after the emergence of Crazy Rich Asians, it occurred to me that there were not many books about Asian Americans especially while growing up. So, for my project, I wanted to re-live and re-create my experiences in Korea. I wrote my children’s book with the intention of creating more Asian role models and normalizing Asian culture to a broader audience.

Alison and Shania
Alison Marouk-Coe & Shania Sharma '22

During our Appel project, we explored the bounds of empathy within the context of our cross-cultural friendship by traveling to each other’s homes and other places of personal significance. We endeavored to work on effective communication tools to convey perspective on important life events. Our writing was a mix of shorter reflective pieces and poetry centering around themes in three distinct categories—people and context, brain space and processing, and emotional reactions and experiences. In our concluding reflections, we focused on constructive elements of empathy which we developed during the experience and how others can apply our findings to their own lives.

Maria Gutierrez-Vera
Maddie Menard '22

For My Appel Fellowship project, I composed a collection of letters which describe my time month alone in Italy. I traveled to two small cities in the heart of the Tuscan region of Italy, Siena and Florence, to study the cultural significance of two medieval sports that have persisted the tests of time: Il Palio di Siena and Il Calcio Storico Florentino. I found that Despite their competitive and divisive nature, these sports bring the citizens of Siena and Florence even closer together under a banner of pride and comradery for their history, culture, and traditions. While the letters mainly explore the cultural and historic dynamics of the sports. they also touch on other topics and experiences I encountered during my travels which include interviews with athletes and personal stories of loneliness and excitement that I experienced during my journey through Il Cuore della Toscana.

Marisa Mestichella
Marisa Mestichella '22

My project focuses on sharing the untold stories of street performers and the intricate layers of city culture reflected through their performances. The discoveries I made in my project will be presented as a series of biographies and essays, with each city I traveled to being a different season in the series (Nashville, Portland, New York). My goals for the project include spreading the buskers’ messages to a wider audience, uncovering a correlation between the city culture and the busker’s sound, and recreating the magic of the live performances through my writing. We truly have a lot to learn and appreciate from these unique individuals and their music.

Serena Myjer
Serena Myjer '22

Inspired by the writing and wanderings of John Muir, I "thru-hiked" the John Muir Trail, documenting my experience on my trusty spiral bound notebook. The trail follows the Eastern Sierra Crest and shares almost all of its miles with the famous Pacific Crest Trail, passing through the High Sierra's most scenic vistas. We hiked southbound, starting in Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows and ending on the magnificent Mt. Whitney. On the trail, I encountered nature in a new way, and used my insights to stimulate my writing and personal growth. This writing project is unique, because I had the chance to put pen to paper instead of my fingers to the keyboard. Not only could I write without access to technology, but I had the time and surroundings to step back and observe my life through a different lens. Ironically, I transcribed my writing onto a website, featuring a journal-based account of the trip, as well as reflections in response to experiences on trail and writings from Muir. I hope to provoke a conversation about the human experience and connection to nature, as well as inspire my reader's own personal exploration through my writing.

Robin Peterson
Robin Peterson '22

Robin journeyed to Amman, Jordan this summer for her Appel Project where she pursued a more in depth understanding of the struggles that refugees face. Her project put an emphasis on cultural connections by breaking down language barriers and connecting with real people affected by regional conflicts. While in Jordan, Robin spent her time learning Arabic and teaching English to refugees at Collateral Repair Project. CRP works to meet the basic needs of urban refugees, while providing a place for trauma relief and community building. The most transformative experience was interviewing and becoming friends with refugees from all different backgrounds from Iraqi to Sudanese to Syrian. In between learning, teaching, and writing, Robin tried every falafel stand in Amman and traveled around Jordan's beautiful landscapes.

Daenerys Pineda
Daenerys Pineda '22

My project is an exploration of Filipino-American history and identity in Northern California. I visited sites with cultural significance in the Bay Area and Stockton, spoke with other Filipino-Americans, and researched the history of the Pinoy communities in these areas. As a voracious reader, I approach literature not only as entertainment but also as a means of representation. Asian-American stories have struggled to break into the mainstream culture. With Crazy Rich Asians, East Asians saw a victory for themselves, but Southeast and South Asians found themselves still at a loss. With this in mind, I wrote short stories featuring Filipino-Americans as the main characters and linking them to historically important issues like labor activism and gentrification. To connect my research to my personal experience, I also wrote essays dealing with memory, representation, and the relationship Asian-Americans have with their “motherland”, Asia. Ultimately my project seeks to answer three questions: first, what is the history of the Pinoy community? Second, what is the literary heritage of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans? Third, what is my story?

Courtney Reed
Courtney Reed '22

I visited India, China, and Atlanta to create a mini-documentary and to study the different economic pillars of the international hair industry: sourcing, exporting and importing. In Varanasi, India I interviewed locals to better understand why women sacrifice their hair in temples. In Guangzhou, China I met with a wholesaler who keeps up with hair demands by visiting small villages and paying women to cut their hair. In Atlanta, Georgia, I attended the Bronner Bros International Hair show. The hair show allows attendants to access hundreds of vendors that sell an array of beauty products, with a dedicated hall for hair extensions.

Toluwani Roberts
Toluwani Roberts '22

I spent the summer after my freshman year in Ecuador, the country that became my second home the year before. I lived six hours south of my first host family in a mountaintop region called Cacha, a collection of 21 indigenous communities, in a very quiet and grounding Cultural and Tourist Center called Pucara Tambo. I arrived in exploration of the Ecua-indigenous relationship to Earth (and of my relationship with her as well), for which I interviewed five people in two communities during my second month. They spoke with me readily of the agricultural, cultural, and religious evolution of their communities. They, too, became another family to me, allowing me to refine the loving and caring practices I had to learn during my first month there, when my mother stayed with me. It was a transformative learning and growing experience for the both of us and a story still untold.

Dorcas Saca
Dorcas Saca '22

For my Appel Fellowship project, I initially set out to dispute Su’ad Abdul Khabeer’s definition of what being an African American Muslim is like within the confines of the American identity as published in her book “Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States.” I wanted to reconstruct her definition of the behavior of African American Muslims, in which she coined the term “Muslim Cool,” and show that Khabeer’s generalizations do not apply to every Muslim community. Eventually, after several pivots, I chose to focus my project on Muslim Americans and their experience living within an American society that seems to be laced with hatred for the religion of Islam, for the hijab, and even more so for people who fit the stereotype of the ‘Middle Eastern’ Muslim. By traveling to six different states: Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, and California, and, attesting to the diversity found within Islam, I conducted interviews with people of different backgrounds and identities to get a sense of what being a Muslim in America is like in very different areas of the country.

Sobechukwu Uwajeh
Sobechukwu Uwajeh '22

I spent 5 weeks out of the summer in the Harlem and Pilsen neighborhoods of New York City and Chicago, respectively. These neighborhoods also share the unofficial title of being a gentrifying area. In both neighborhoods, I interviewed a local reporter to get the lay of the land from a more formal lens. Then, I took to the streets to find black and Latinx citizens in Harlem and Pilsen, respectively. I was fortunate enough to interview people of various age groups and areas of these neighborhoods. I believe that this allowed for me to formulate a nuanced and in-depth narrative of gentrification in these areas!

Kyril van Schendel
Kyril Van Schendel '22

This summer for my Appel fellowship I traveled across the southwest to run in some of the most well-regarded regions for long-distance training. Along my month-long road trip, my goal was to focus on why I was running? This question was important to me because in my five years of running I had never seriously thought about my purpose as a runner. I wanted to see where this question would lead me, and if there was something in this question that would help me push my body to its limits when it mattered most. What I discovered was not what I expected to find. I realized that my reason for running was always changing. However, from observing how my body responded to each workout, I began to see that the secret to running faster sat with how frequently I reminded myself, why my running was important to me, while I was training or running a race. The more often I did this, the harder I pushed my body. To share my inquiry and my discoveries from this question I decided to produce a film. My hope is that the film will inspire other runners to think about why they run, and what can result from doing so.

Laura Vences
Laura Vences '22

Although the debate around immigrants is not knew, in recent years I had become frustrated with the constant debate surrounding Latino immigrants: whether they were good or bad for the economy, or whether they were stealing jobs, or whether they were doing the “jobs that Americans do not want.” It always seemed to me that everyone was being given the opportunity to speak on the subject—except Latino immigrants themselves. Having grown up seeing my dad work as a gardener, I knew that there was a complex relationship to explore between immigrants and their jobs—one that transcends immigration status: the desire to accomplish one’s dreams and provide for oneself and one’s family. So, for my Appel project I wrote a short story of a metaphorical, self-grown garden composed of the true stories of the Latino immigrants I met throughout my travels to Honolulu, the Los Angeles area, New York City, and Chicago. While the stories contain plenty of fear, anxiousness, and sadness, they contain just as much, if not more, defiance, strength, and love. Ultimately, the short story is a tribute to those I refer to as The Seeded Generation—the generation who sacrificed parts of themselves in order to give my generation the opportunity to blossom. .

Kim Zamora-Delgado
Kim Zamora-Delgado '22

The purpose of this project was to discover what barriers certain communities have to overcome to gain access to the outdoors. I accomplished this by road tripping to 12 National Parks: Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, Death Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Joshua Tree, Redwood, Crater Lake, and Mt. Rainier. I interviewed park staff and visitors about their experience in national parks and the outdoor culture. Financial constraints, inadequate knowledge, fear of the unknown, limited resources, geographical location, lack of media and leadership representation, and background/culture are all potential barriers that some individuals have to face. Through photographs, souvenirs, newspaper sections, interview stories, and creative writings I created a scrapbook full of my discoveries.

2018-2019 Appel Fellows

Skyler Addison ’21
Elena Castellanos ’21
John Church ’21
Jennifer Collao ’21
Sevion DaCosta ’21
Emma David ’21
Sabrina Hartono ’21
Nate Huntington ’21
Benjamin McAnally ’21
Angel Ornelas ’21
Hephzibah Oyibo ’21
Nandeeni Patel ’21
Elton Smole ’21
Andria Tattersfield ’21

2017-2018 Appel Fellows

Nick Sage ’20
Jafar Daniel ’20
Gabe Gluskin-Braun ’20
Shreya Bhatnagar ’20
Taylor Hughes ’20
Isaiah Tulanda ’20
Zoey Ryu ’20
Becky Chung ’20


2016-2017 Appel Fellows

Chloe Cho ’19
Emma Henson ’19
Valerie Huang ’19
Nick LaBerge ’19
Blake Lapin ’19
Bryn Miller ’19
Reyna Wang ’19
Melia Wong ’19

Tags for Slideshows: