MA in Cultural Studies alumni work in a variety arts, cultural, and educational settings. Read what some of our graduates have to say about their experience in the program and the ways in which it influences their current endeavors.
Debbie Brown, '11
PhD Student, Leadership Studies, Gonzaga University
In 2007 Debbie Brown was a domestic violence survivor and was living out of her car. But even then, she was determined to realize her dream of completing her undergraduate education and going to graduate school. At the time, her daughter was attending Cascadia Community College, which is co-located with the UW Bothell campus. She urged Debbie to go with her and they spent the next year taking classes together. The following year Debbie transferred to UW Bothell and found herself in a thriving interdisciplinary setting. Encouraged by Professor JoLynn Edwards, Debbie applied to the Cultural Studies program, with the ultimate goal of earning a PhD.
Debbie said she chose the Cultural Studies program for its exposure to multiple disciplines, including critical race theory, queer theory, geography and environment, and gender studies, as well as allowing her to work in her area of scholarly interest, African studies. She is now working on her PhD in Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University. In this program, she continues to examine social issues and has become very interested in complexity theory. Debbie hopes to use complexity theory to help examine the problems of poverty and hunger in Africa. Her career aspiration is to teach and research in a university setting.
Mona Halcomb, '11
Dean of Student Services, Northwest Indian College
Mona Halcomb was planning for a career in politics. To this end, she sought an advanced degree in policy or law and was moving in that direction when life took an unexpected turn. A member of her family became ill with cancer, and circumstances prevented her from taking the LSAT. This pause led Mona to reevaluate her educational aims, and as she surveyed the political arena, she concluded it was full of lawyers and policymakers - and still headed in a downward spiral. Knowing the basic premise of democracy is to represent the people, Mona decided that she needed a better understanding of the diverse perspectives in her community.
Mona chose the MA in Cultural Studies program for its attention to power, privilege, and the historical aspects of culture, all critical factors to understanding people and politics. Cultural Studies allowed Mona to enhance her communication and collaboration abilities, skills she uses every day in her role as Dean of Students at Northwest Indian College (NWIC). NWIC's baccalaureate level of accreditation offers degree and certificate programs to more than 1100 students representing different tribal nations. Mona oversees student services, including: admissions, advising, athletics, early learning center, registration, recruiting, student activities, and housing. The driving force in her work is being an advocate and impacting the achievement gap among native communities.
Jayne Swift, '10
PhD Student, Feminist Studies, University of Minnesota
Jayne Swift received her BA and MA in Women's Studies from the University of Iowa. While at Iowa, her research focused on the history of sexuality, gender, and feminism, U.S. social history, popular cultures, and feminist theory. Upon graduating, she followed some friends to Seattle, but found herself still desirous of an intellectual community in which to continue exploring the intersections of power, culture, and sexuality as they are lived and daily negotiated by marginalized subjects.
Involved with the sex worker rights movement, Jayne chose the Cultural Studies program as an avenue to more deeply explore her evolving research interests in commercial sex cultures. In the program, Jayne had the opportunity to work closely with one of the leading scholars in her area of research, Kari Lerum, which greatly enriched her academic and professional life. Her MA capstone, "Hot for Teacher: Sex Workers and Academic Spaces," examined joint sex worker-academic identities, inquiring into how ideas about “risk" and "contamination" structure the meeting of the neo-liberal university and commercial sex. Jayne is now a PhD student in the Feminist Studies program at the University of Minnesota.
Jeremy Richards, '10
Project Manager, Microsoft
An accomplished radio producer, writer, and actor rooted in the Seattle’s arts community, Jeremy Richards desired a graduate education that would stretch the bounds of his creativity while broadening his professional options. Seeking a cross-disciplined approach integrating various fields of cultural study, Jeremy chose the MA in Cultural Studies as a venue for his intellectual pursuits. While in the program, he focused on the writings and music of Friedrich Nietzsche, the cultural landscape of belief, and the praxis of creative collaboration, leading to his capstone, "Nietzsche! The Musical."
After 15 years in radio, Jeremy has shifted his career to the sector of information technology. Now at Microsoft, he began as a teambuilding consultant using the theory and techniques of improvisation. His role has expanded into project management, and Jeremy views his non-traditional background and Cultural Studies training as an asset. It provides him with a framework for assessing the patterns, rituals, values, and pedagogies which are pervasive within his organization’s culture, allowing him to work in new and inventive directions.
Joshua Heim, '10
Arts Administrator, City of Redmond
Throughout his career Joshua Heim grappled with the concept of “praxis,” or how to turn theoretically rich ideas into something useful to the community. Continually encountering this tension in his work, Joshua chose the Cultural Studies program as a venue for developing a deep theoretical orientation, one that would guide his actions and enable him to more powerfully affect social change.
While in the Cultural Studies program, Joshua served Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in dual capacities as Exhibits Developer, coordinating community-based exhibits representing the history, art and culture of Asian Pacific Americans, and Manager of YouthCAN, a national award winning arts-based youth leadership program. Wing Luke provided Joshua with a space for integrating his academic learning and employing various models of civic engagement.
In his current role as Arts Administrator for City of Redmond, Joshua manages arts and cultural programming for the city and leads the charge for translating these spheres into sites that are relevant and accessible to the community. Using the skills and understandings Joshua gained through the Cultural Studies program, he hopes to create a new paradigm for public support of the arts and culture.
Ann Hemmons Ferreira, '10
Brazilian Portuguese Game Localist
Raised in Brazil, Ann Hemmons Ferreira saw the play of power and privilege in all facets of life. Greatly affected by the inequities around her, Ann desired an advanced education that would deepen her understanding of these dynamics while preparing her to be an educator. With the ultimate goal of teaching at a university in Brazil, Ann chose the MA in Cultural Studies program to expand her knowledge of cultural theory and research practices. During her course of study, Ann developed a fascination with video game culture, a space where different - often disenfranchised - people could socialize, deconstruct ideas, and create new worlds. This interest drew Ann to the arena of game localization, and she now contracts with various video game companies as a Brazilian Portuguese localist. This role entails modifying new software and hardware to make it accessible, usable, and culturally suitable to the Brazilian audience. In tandem with her linguistic and cultural knowledge of Brazil, Ann’s ability to identify, dissect and translate various forms of culture has given her a competitive edge in this growing field.
Randi Courtmanch, '10
Program Coordinator, Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas
Instructor, University of Washington Bothell
Coming from a traditional performing arts background, Randi Courtmanch wanted to expand her practice through deeper engagement with the social and cultural dimensions of her work. Randi had been involved with different communities and populations, and she was looking for a base from which she could explore and ground her artistic and research interests more fully. Randi chose the MA in Cultural Studies program for its interdisciplinary approach and emphasis on collaboration across diverse sectors. During her studies, she interned for Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas (CD Forum), a local nonprofit organization which presents and produces African American cultural programs that encourage thought and debate. This experience provided a setting for Randi to practice her theoretical learning while further honing her skills and knowledge in arts administration. Randi’s internship at CD Forum eventually became a permanent position, and in her role as Program Coordinator, she curates programs and connects with multiple artists, communities, and stakeholders. Randi also continues to teach and has expanded her repertoire to include freshmen-level courses at UW Bothell in the areas of art, performance, and student development.