Jennifer Nations of sociology was under the impression that she was going into a meeting with her dissertation adviser Isaac Martin when she was surprised with an award and $20,000 prize. Nations, who recently received her PhD at the UC San Diego Department of Sociology, was selected as the first recipient of the Dean’s Fellowship Award for Humanistic Studies.
Nations said that it was both “gratifying and a little surreal.”
The Dean’s Fellowship Award for Humanistic Studies was created by an anonymous donor with the passion to support graduate students. It is described as a gift to benefit the recipient, which is selected selected on the basis of academic merit as well as demonstrated perseverance to overcome personal hardship. This award celebrates PhD students in Anthropology, Communication, History, Linguistics, Literature, Philosophy and Sociology, recognizing these fields as ones who help to “drive creative innovation in our society” and are “intrinsic to campus enrichment and critical to our shared future.”
Jennifer Nations, who studies social inequality and public policy, explores in her dissertation how it is that states have wound up with wildly different approaches to helping their citizens afford the costs of college. Isaac Martin, in nominating her for the surprise fellowship, wrote both about Nations’ stellar scholarship and about how she’s been raising three young children in sometimes challenging financial circumstances. He also noted that she goes out of her way to help undergrads who are struggling for one reason or another.