Queensborough Community College professors awarded $40K fellowships

CUNY Queensborough Community College campus (Photo credit: QCC)

Queensborough Community College English Professors Dr. Raquel C. Corona and Irvin Weathersby Jr. were awarded $40,000 Mellon/ACLS fellowships on May 18.

They are among 30 other community college awardees across the country to receive the fellowship to advance their projects, many of which include research, community engagement and pedagogical dimensions. Dr. Corona and Weathersby will join the other awardees in participating in a multiday convening hosted by ACLS that brings current and past awardee cohorts together with academic leaders to share perspectives from their work.

“I am thrilled for our colleagues Irvin and Raquel who have each won this competitive fellowship for their meaningful and relevant research in the humanities,” Queensborough Community College President Dr. Christine Mangino said. “Their outstanding achievements are yet another example of the exceptionally talented faculty we are so fortunate to have at this institution. Their ongoing successes ensure our students’ success.”

Dr. Corona began working at Queensborough Community College in the spring of 2013 as part of the CUNY Start program, an initiative that helps students improve their entrance exam scores and advance out of remediation. She eventually moved up from an adviser and coordinator role for the program before becoming a full-time lecturer in 2018 and a doctoral lecturer in 2021.

“My dissertation centered on the ways in which Dominican women access and navigate sex and pleasure in the greater context of various forces on their lives such as gender, culture or generationally with the knowledge passed down to them by their mothers,” Dr. Corona said. “I also explore the contradictions in the Dominican culture surrounding how women and men are educated about sex. While women are encouraged to wait until marriage or risk suffering, men are expected and encouraged to seek out and enjoy sex. However, the reality is that both are engaging in sex, and so the larger question I pose is: what is at stake for Dominican women when this occurs and how can we begin to challenge and change these ideas about women and sex?”

Professor Corona says her goal is to create a digital platform that shares stories from Dominican women she interviewed. She hopes that the opportunity to circulate new stories about the realities of engaging in sex and pleasure will provide Dominican women the opportunity to learn from others like them.

Professor Weathersby worked as a high school teacher in Baltimore and New York City and served as the education coordinator at a reentry program in the South Bronx and Harlem to develop curriculums for formerly incarcerated men and women. He made a memoir-in-essay that discusses the possibilities of life unbound by the burdens of race. The central theme is reckoning with white supremacy as illustrated in monuments, museums and art.

“In 2015 I traveled to Florence, Italy, where I saw Michelangelo’s ‘David,'” Weathersby said. “In Michelangelo’s time, these statues were whitewashed to reflect purity. This was during the period in 1504 when Europeans set out to conquer the world and seek new empires. The whitewashed statue of David responded to a political movement in Italy and reflected the beginnings of white supremacy. Incredibly, neo-Nazis today look to these statues as representations of white supremacy.”

Launched in 2018, the Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship program offers teachers at two-year colleges support for research projects in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. It recognizes the vital and diverse contributions of more than 100 community college faculty to humanistic research and teaching.

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