Student Spotlight – Nikki Lee

probably-already-saved-thisName: Nikki Lee

Year: 2018

Concentration: Sociology and Ethnic Studies

Nikki has interned with the Childhood Lead Action Project and is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. Read on to hear about Nikki’s experiences as a researcher on the path to academia.


What kind of research experiences, internships, or fellowships have you been involved with during college?

Freshman summer, I interned with the Childhood Lead Action Project, centered in Providence. Not only did I learn a lot about non-profits, public health, and the intersections of race, class, and space, but I was also partially funded through the Swearer Center‘s Off Campus Work Study Program, which gave me a livable wage for the summer. Sophomore year, I received the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, which is allowing me to work on and produce a thesis my senior year, with the goal of eventually attending graduate school and entering the professoriate.


How have these experiences shaped your goals and plans for the future?

In regards to my freshman year internship, I became very interested in how policy (especially health policies) and activism are intertwined, which then helped me formulate my research topics later sophomore year. Since becoming involved with Mellon Mays, I have really become interested in pursuing grad school and producing more research. Ideally, I’d love to end up in academia, but that’s a long while away. 


Mellon Mays Class of 2018

What was your favorite part of or an interesting story about a research experience, internship, or fellowship you participated in? 

Mellon Mays provides an incredibly supportive space for research to blossom and grow. I recently went to the Northeast Mellon Mays Conference and listened to several folks discuss their research, as well as discussing my research. It was amazing to see the types of research Mellon Fellows are producing across the country, and it was so affirming to hear people’s comments on my own ideas for research.

Do you have any advice for students looking to potentially pursue opportunities similar to what you’ve pursued?

Talk to your professors and advisors! And if your advisors aren’t willing to listen to you ramble about your aspirations/ideas, look for adults who will listen (and try to get a new advisor!). And if you see folks at Brown doing cool stuff, try to ask them about it. For me, two of my rugby teammates were Mellon Mays Fellows before me, so I learned about the opportunity from them. I then spoke to a couple of professors about my ideas and then decided to apply (also with a lot of help from upperclassmen and professors). I asked for help every step of the way. I guess the gist of it really is, don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice, because there are so many people at Brown who want to see you succeed, whatever that looks like for you. A lot of us at Brown are used to being independent, but learning to ask for help and ask questions has helped me so much here at Brown, especially in terms of fellowships and such.


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