Lyon's Pride Fellowship Fund


The idea of establishing a fellowship fund began in the summer of 2013. We had just established our internship fund with the Development Office, and had gotten a request from an alum looking for funding for her educational pursuits. Our established internship fund was specifically to help Mount Holyoke students, not alums, so we explored the possibility of setting up a fellowship fund with the Alumnae Association so that we could help alums fund the research and projects they wanted to do. The Alumnae Association told us the size of a fellowship could be whatever amount we chose, and it is possible for the amount to vary from year to year based on the funding available. The maximum amount that can be awarded each year is determined by the amount of money in the fund on February 15 of each year so that when the College Fellowship Committee reviews applications and decides on awards, it knows how much it has to award. The minimum amount of an award is $1000.

We had several votes and discussions online with the membership in the fall of 2013 to provide a guideline to the Alumnae Association for choosing a candidate for the fellowship. The statement we chose is: "Awarded, preferably, to a candidate pursuing an LGBT, gender, or feminist studies project." The vote was very close between restricting the award to a particular kind of project, and no restrictions at all, so we added the word "preferably" to instruct the Alumnae Association that if they don't have an LGBT/gender/feminist studies candidate, but have someone else who would be proud to have a Lyon's Pride fellowship, we'd rather they use the fund for that person than not at all. We also discussed restricting the fund to young alums, but the majority of the votes supported no year of graduation restrictions.


Our first recipient in 2014 was Judy Tan '03, who used her $1500 fellowship to study LGBT people of color living with HIV in the greater San Francisco and Boston areas. She examined how intimate relationships influence the medical care and management of HIV. She notes, "People of color living with HIV/AIDS who are also members of the LGBT community comprise a vulnerable population most disproportionately affected by HIV in the United States. Despite the widespread availability of antiretroviral therapy for treating HIV, research indicates that LGBT persons of color living with HIV suffer from poor health and overall quality of life relative to the general population. Many of these individuals are in committed partnerships, and there is evidence of the supportive function of intimate partnerships in the management and treatment of different cancers. However, little is understood about the role of intimate partnerships on improving HIV-related outcomes. This research will inform the development of an intervention to improve HIV care engagement and care in this underserved population."

Our second recipient in 2015 was Sarah Giragosian '06 for her book project on queer North American poetics. Sarah said, "My book project, an extension of my dissertation "Queer Creatures, Queer Times,' makes an intervention in queer theory and queer poetics through a combination of critical and creative approaches to explore how posthumanist thought and evolutionary studies might be mobilized to enhance current work on queer experience and texts."

Our 2016 recipient was Kara Johnson '07 for archival research for her English dissertation on female industrial workers in the textile mill community of Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1840s.

Our 2017 recipient was Elizabeth M. Mullin '06 for her research project in sports and exercise psychology within the LGBQ community. Using a feminist framework, the goal of the project was (1) To what extent do collegiate athletic coaches develop an inclusive climate to LGBQ athletes on their team, and (2) To what extent does their homo-positive or homo-negative attitudes towards LGBQ student-athletes influence their climate development. Forty collegiate coaches were interviewed and thematic coding was used to answer the primary research questions.

We did not raise enough money in 2018 or 2019 to sponsor anyone.

Our 2020 recipient was Hannah Leffingwell '15. Her dissertation chronicled the evolution of transatlantic lesbian networks in the late 20th century in the US, France, and Canada. The dissertation, roughly divided into three thematic areas - "Confrontation," "Information," and "Celebration" - interrogates the foundations of lesbian identity, culture, and politics in transnational perspective. The project analyzed both the institutional and personal means by which lesbian women practiced community-building in the wake of Women's Liberation - and how these practices pushed the boundaries of contemporary feminisms and national borders. "Confrontation" explored the delineation of lesbian identities in early Women's Liberation Groups. This section asked how the circulation of people and ideas across the Atlantic in the early days of Women's Liberation both refined and universalized notions of "lesbian" identity. "Information" explores the proliferation of lesbian resources and knowledge centers, including lesbian archives, hotlines, and international organizations such as the International Lesbian Information Service. Analyzing both the resources and their dissemination across local, national and transnational networks, this section asks how lesbian information initiatives delimited "lesbian" identity based on race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Finally, "Celebration" explores lesbian summer camps, Women's Lands, and arts initiatives to analyze how lesbian countercultures both defied contemporary nationalisms and entrenched limitations on lesbian belonging.

We did not raise enough money in 2021 to sponsor anyone.

Our 2022 recipient was Aishath Maya Mauroof '22. She is the first student at the College to come from the Maldives, a low-lying island nation. Maya is very interested in the effect of climate change on her country and the potential loss of statehood due to rising sea levels. She studies the disproportionate impact of climate change on marginalized communities, and analyzes the extent and impact of women's participation within the existing international framework for addressing climate change. She has pursued her work at both the undergraduate and graduate levels for an accelerated degree.

Giving to the Fund

In 2014, when our first recipient was named, we received a letter from Nancy Jefferis '69, a Lyon's Pride member who shared some thoughts with the board about the fellowship fund:

I have never participated very much in MHC alumnae activities, except for a couple of Choral Reunions. I have nothing against such activities, they're just not my kind of thing. I have, however, given frequently to the College general Alumnae Fund. But I haven't really gotten much of a feeling of connection with the school through those donations.
Now, I have very specific giving targets in the MHLP Fellowship and Internship funds. I cannot give large amounts of money, but I feel that I can make a real difference to lesbian students and alums through those targets. And when I read about the recent recipients of those funds, I feel a much stronger connection with the school and with my fellow lesbian alums.
So, I just wanted to let you know how much it means to me to be able to have this closer connection and give money where I know it will be used for a cause I believe in so strongly.

If you feel the same way, we would love your support for the fellowship fund. The Lyon's Pride Fellowship Fund is being coordinated by the Development Office. Each year, we strive to have a handful of alums pool their resources and give at least the $1000 needed so that we don't have to establish an endowed fund. If you would like to be one of those alums, send your gift with a note designating that the gift is for the Lyon's Pride Fellowship Fund to Development Office, 50 College St, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA 01075. This means the gift will be noted on your file record. The Development Office and any classmates who work on fund raising may have access to an individual's file record.

Please make checks payable to "Mount Holyoke College".

To give online with a credit card, please go to:

Make sure to state the donation is for the Lyon's Pride Fellowship Fund in the comment area of the donation form, or else it will get credited to the Annual Fund by default. The drop-down menu of suggested uses does not include our fund, so you have to choose the "Other" option and use the comment area to name the fund. You MUST leave a comment in the donation form indicating how you want your donation to be credited in order for them to handle your donation correctly.

All donations are fully tax deductible.

Please do NOT send any money to Lyon's Pride for the Fellowship Fund via PayPal.
© Mount Holyoke Lyon's Pride
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software