Growing up in the nearby town of La Habra, Chris Chacon was called a “class genius” by his peers, graduated from eighth grade as a class salvator, and excelled in high school.
At Cal State Fullerton, he majored in anthropology, history and religious studies and graduated with a bachelor’s degree with magna cum laude distinction in 2013. Three years later, he earned a master’s degree in history at CSUF and is now pursuing a doctorate to work in academia and teach under-represented students like himself.
“As a Mexican-American student, I wanted to see models who looked like me and came from places like my hometown. Now I want the next generation of students – who come from diverse backgrounds like mine – to see someone like them. It’s the best way to serve my community, ”said Chacon, a first generation university graduate who will be the first in his family to also earn a doctorate.
Chacon, a doctoral student at UC Irvine studying South Asia and World History, is one of two CSUF alumni selected for the California State University Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program 2020- 21. Graduated in physics Denyz Melchor, studying for a doctorate in astrophysics in the physics and astronomy program at UCLA, was also selected as a fellow.
The the objectives of the program are to increase the number of faculty with the qualifications, motivation and skills to teach the diverse students of CSU. Fellows receive financial support, mentorship from CSU faculty, as well as professional development resources and grants.
Chacon will be supervised by Robert McLain, professor of history, who was his supervisor of the master’s thesis; and Melchor’s mentor is his undergraduate advisor Geoffrey Lovelace, associate professor of physics.
Two other doctoral students will be supervised by members of the faculty of the CSUF: Yoselinda Mendoza, doctoral student in sociology at Cornell University, will be supervised by Patricia A. Perez, professor of chicana and chicano studies; and Erualdo Gonzalez, president and professor of chicana and chicano studies, will mentor Emmanuel Preciado, a doctoral student in urban and environmental planning and policy at UC Irvine.
“Success of CSU”
The scholarship will help Chacon pay off his graduate loans and he looks forward to working with McLain again during his scholarship.
Chacon aspires to one day teach and conduct research on a CSU campus because of the system’s dedication to diversity, inclusiveness and equity, and his own experiences of mentoring by faculty like McLain and d ‘others who went above and beyond.
“I’m a CSU success story,” said Chacon, raised by a single mother whose family immigrated from Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s and, in the 1960s, picked fruits and nuts every summer in the agricultural fields of central California.
“To have the opportunity to contribute to a university system that has given me so much would be a dream come true. Receiving this award is the cumulative of nearly a decade of coursework, applications and planning.
Chacon, who was a CSUF Scholar student, credits many of his CSUF faculty mentors for giving him advice, encouragement and even letters of recommendation, to pursue graduate studies and become an academic.
“The opportunities at CSUF made my application strong enough for the doctorate. program, ”he said.
As an undergraduate student, he conducted research on Indian history, new religious movements, and the history of the Middle East. He has participated in teaching courses such as “World Civilizations in the 16th Century” as a graduate student and published his Masters thesis on Hindu Nationalism, all of which gave him insight into the chair.
For his doctoral program, Chacon spent a year studying Hindi in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, as part of the language program of the American Institute of Indian Studies. He plans to return to India to complete his research for his thesis on Hindu nationalism at the start of the 20th century, under the supervision of Vinayak Chaturvedi, associate professor of history at the UCI.
“My work follows the life and work of Bhai Parmanand and Lajpat Rai. The two share many similarities, including time spent in the United States. My overall argument suggests that their lived experiences and ideas contributed to the overall construction of the Hindu world that took place before and simultaneously with the formation of Hindu nationalist organizations, such as the Hindu Mahasabha.
“Although my subject is quite controversial, it is intellectually stimulating and encouraging. My thesis will contribute to the relatively new field of world intellectual history.
Contact: Debra Cano Ramos, [email protected]