2018-2019 Diversity Fellows


Xavier du Maine

I am a proud native of St. Louis, Missouri and the product of a "village" of black mentors. Through the encouragement of a high school science teacher, I was first exposed to biomedical research my junior year as a participant of the Young Scientist Program at WashU. That summer, I discovered the fascinating world of neuroscience in an ALS lab and decided to pursue a PhD, and I haven't looked back since. I went on to study biology and French at Columbia University in NYC, during which I conducted research in neuroscience labs at WashU, Columbia, UCSF (Summer Research Training Program), and Harvard (Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program). Drawn to Harvard as a summer student, I ultimately decided to pursue my graduate studies here, where I am currently a fourth year student in the Biological & Biomedical Sciences Program. My research in lab of Dr. Chenghua Gu focuses on uncovering the molecular and cellular mechanisms of blood-brain barrier maintenance in adulthood. Outside of lab, I devote my time to high school and college STEM outreach programs and Christian ministry, and I enjoy venturing back to NYC to see Broadway musicals.

Why I Am a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

Graduate studies and research are not performed in a vacuum. Among the many factors shaping the experiences and success of graduate students, the culture and community of an institution are crucial. I quickly learned this upon starting at Harvard. While serving in student groups such as Underrepresented Scholars in Neuroscience and Minority Biomedical Scientists of Harvard provided me with a supportive community, I felt unwelcome, undervalued, and unseen in other environments. My leadership in high school (Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program) and college (Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program) STEM outreach programs has afforded me the opportunity to pave the way for future graduate students. However, I also wanted to be able to positively impact life for my fellow graduate students in GSAS, which led me to apply to be a Diversity & Inclusion Fellow. In my work as a D&I Fellow, I aim to make Harvard a place where underrepresented students in GSAS don't just survive grad school but thrive and flourish. I believe this starts with making sure every student has a community they can call their own and redefining and reshaping culture at the department and program level to be welcoming and inclusive for all students from all backgrounds.

Alyssa Hernandez

I am the proud daughter of Mexican parents and grew up in the city of Camarillo, CA. Even though I had actually never been on a plane until I was in high school, I decided to venture to the East Coast for college. I then spent four years at Cornell University where I received a degree in Natural Resources and Applied Ecology. After graduation, I accepted an AmeriCorps position in Northern California that focused on science outreach. Although I loved teaching the public about science, I missed doing research and eventually worked for another three years in various research positions at the University of California, Berkeley. It was my time at UC Berkeley that reinforced my love for research and pushed me to seek a graduate degree. I am now pursuing my PhD in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. I am interested in biomechanics and using insects as models for understanding adaptive functional morphologies related to attachment. When I am not working, one of my favorite activities is hiking with my partner and our dog.

Why I Am a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

I have been in an academic setting for the past ten years, and I have been lucky enough to participate in multiple research, outreach and teaching opportunities. While these professional experiences have been helpful, it is actually my personal experiences in academia as a LGBT woman of Mexican American descent that drive me to pursue the responsibilities of the Diversity and Inclusion Fellow position. Since my first year at Harvard, I have been able to attend a variety of events aimed at tackling issues for different underrepresented groups, such as women in the sciences, minorities in the Ivy League, and LGBTQ graduate students. This motivated me to join the board of the Harvard chapter of SACNAS, which represents Chicano and Native American students in STEM fields. I have also served as a graduate mentor for the Harvard’s WiSTEM program, which supports undergraduate women interested in STEM careers. While attending various events, I had the opportunity to speak with professionals and fellow graduate students who could truly empathize with the “imposter syndrome” that has plagued me since my first day as an undergraduate. By interacting with others who shared similar circumstances and stories, I realized that my unique background afforded me the chance to assist other individuals who may be experiencing the very same crises of confidence.

Andrew An Westover

Born and raised in East Tennessee, I consider the South my home. Undergraduate studies took me to Alabama, where I earned an Honors BA in History and Minor in the Arts from Samford University. I also studied at Hong Kong Baptist University and the Daniel House in London. Teach For America brought me to Glendale, Arizona, where I taught middle school humanities and earned an MEd in Secondary English and Literacy from Arizona State University. Transitioning abroad with Fulbright, I taught pre-service teachers at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and partnered with the Institute for Race, Reconciliation, and Social Justice to develop more inclusive policies and procedures affirming gender and sexual diversity. For the next several years I worked in art museums, holding positions at the Smithsonian Institution's Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, National Museum of Wildlife Art, and J. Paul Getty Museum. My responsibilities included leading strategic planning, directing digital projects, managing on-site and online professional development for educators, and creating K-12 curricula. While at the Getty, I also earned an MA in Religion from Claremont School of Theology. Currently, I am a PhD candidate in Education, focusing on ethics and queer theory. Outside of academic research and teaching, I enjoy running along the Charles, art exhibitions, and queer community building.

Why I Am a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

Over the past three years, I have worked in several capacities to increase the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people at Harvard, and this fellowship is a natural progression from these experiences. I serve both as an organizer of LGBTQ+ affinity spaces (QueerEd, One Queer Harvard, LGBTQ Conference at Harvard) and liaison to and representative of LGBTQ+ community members in broader contexts (HGSE Dean’s Advisory Committee for Equity and Diversity, Implementation Committee for the President’s Task Force for Inclusion and Belonging). In each of these capacities, I advocate for greater access and equity for LGBTQ+ graduate students. I am regularly called to interface with student activists, staff, faculty, and administration on LGBTQ+ issues and have mediated several such conversations. Outside of Harvard, I give invited lectures and workshops on gender, sexuality, and ethics at institutions like Yale, Boston University, Bayan Claremont, and the Smithsonian.

The opportunity to connect the relationships I have forged across Harvard, my developing expertise in sexuality and gender, and ODMA’s commitment to an intersectionally inclusive environment, one where all students can thrive and grow academically and personally, is compelling. I am deeply dedicated to advocating for diversity and equity in higher education and appreciate the opportunity to grow in this work as the inaugural LGBTQ-focused Diversity and Inclusion Fellow.

Any GSAS student who is currently a G-2 or above, in good standing, and registered in the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for the 2018-2019 academic year is eligible to apply for one of these new positions. This year, GSAS is adding a third Diversity and Inclusion Fellow who will...Read more