Children’s book author Lara Saguisag knew how to engage young audiences with stories about her native Philippines. The author of Children of Two Seasons: Poems for Young People (Anvil, 2007) and Cat Eyes (Lampara, 2006) wanted to understand that audience, as well as children’s books in general, on a deeper level. A PhD in childhood studies from Rutgers–Camden seemed a perfect fit to broaden Lara’s skills.

Her decision to apply was immediately validated: not only was she admitted, she was awarded a Rutgers University Presidential Fellowship, a $30,000 stipend, plus tuition and fee reimbursement, given to just ten doctoral students university-wide each year.

While preparing for preliminary exams, Lara started to draft her dissertation on representations of children and childhood in early American comic strips from 1895 to the 1930s. To further this endeavor, she has been awarded a Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation Fellowship for Caricature and Cartoon. The $7,500 stipend supports scholarly work from a graduate or doctoral student and seeks to increase awareness and extend documentation of Library of Congress collections by encouraging fellows to use its resources during required two-week residencies and share their findings during public lectures.

I’m curious to learn how children were represented, why the comics were so popular and what their appeal was.

Lara credits her professors for advancing her in positive directions, like submitting papers to journals and to conferences. “They have been instrumental in helping me gain confidence as an academic scholar. That kind of support has had a huge impact on my life and work.”