At the Faculty Club in November, two quiet ceremonies took place on different evenings, virtually out of the campus eye, but united by history and an unusual item of neckware. Each marked the presentation of the Una Fellowship, given to an outstanding woman graduate student in the field of history to “foster the spirit of inquiry and individuality” so characteristic of the woman for whom the fellowship is named, Una Smith Ross, who studied history at Berkeley during the presidency of Benjamin Ide Wheeler, the last UC chief executive to regularly navigate the campus on horseback (and probably the last to teach Sanskrit, Gothic, and Balto-Slavic). She earned her B.A. in 1911 and her M.A. in 1913.
In her memory, her husband, Edward Hunter Ross, donated the funds for the fellowship. Over the years, the endowment has grown sufficiently that this year, for the first time, two students could be helped with fellowships, which were each presented in a ceremony that has become one of the campus’s hallowed traditions. Over dinner, an ornate vintage necklace that belonged to Una is placed around the neck of the new fellowship recipient, who wears it only for the evening, while a pleasant meal is enjoyed in the good company of representatives of the Graduate Division and mentors or close associates from her academic department.
The first recipient, alphabetically, was Guinevere Allen, who arrived at Berkeley as a transfer student in the fall of 2005. She graduated with a B.A. in Spanish literature in spring 2010, having maintained a nearly perfect GPA even while raising her young son — she’s a single mom. She brings a blended life experience to her studies, having grown up in Boise, Idaho, worked as a sommelier managing a half-million-dollar wine collection for a high-end restaurant, and owned a home in Marrakesh, Morocco. Her academic passion is the Islamic influence in Spanish literature. She is now pursuing her Ph.D. in Hispanic languages and literatures in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
A few evenings later, the second recipient was Jenna Ingalls, whose spring 2010 Cal undergraduate degree was in German. In her family, she was the first in her generation to attend college, and she supported herself through her undergrad years, managing a heavy course load (with a high GPA) and a year of study abroad in Berlin. She is working toward her Ph.D. in German literature, in the Department of German, focusing on an interest in the interface of German and Yiddish literature and literary Biblicism, with “a consistent sampling of most things medieval.”