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Alumni Stories

M.A. in Cultural Studies alumni work in a variety of roles and sectors. Learn what our graduates are up to!

10/27/2020

Frances Lee investigates threats to subsistence fishing with Melissa Watkinson and Haliehana Stepetin

Lee, Watkinson, and Stepetin headshotsAs a 2019-20 Environmental Justice Investigative Journalism Fellow for Seattle Globalist, M.A. in Cultural Studies alum Frances Lee (’18) examined the threats of climate change and pollution to marine subsistence harvesting. In their article “Declining Marine Health Threatens Traditional Subsistence Fishing for Tribes," published in the South Seattle Emerald, Lee discusses ...

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10/15/2020

Marcus Johnson publishes on Black cultural studies

Marcus JohnsonMarcus Johnson is an M.A. in Cultural Studies alum (’16) and Ph.D. candidate at the UW Department of Communication. He recently co-authored the article “Black Cultural Studies is Intersectionality” with Dr. Ralina Joseph, which was published in the International Journal of Cultural Studies. The article argues ...

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10/13/2020

Berette Macaulay and Black Cinema Collective extend programming and engagements virtually

poster for Retch, the movieBerette Macaulay (Cultural Studies, ’20) founded Black Cinema Collective (BCC) together with classmates Savita Krishnamoorthy (Cultural Studies, ’20) and Mateo Ochoa (Cultural Studies, ’19) in 2019. In February 2020, BCC facilitated public discussion of “Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from UCLA” at the Henry Art Gallery with director and visiting filmmaker Zeinabu Irene Davis.  Soon thereafter the COVID-19 pandemic closed public spaces for such gatherings ...

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10/13/2020

Berette Macaulay named to new position at Henry Art Gallery

Berette MacaulayBerette Macaulay (M.A. in Cultural Studies, ’20) has been named to a new position, Museum Guide Program Manager, at the Henry Art Gallery (University of Washington, Seattle campus). In this new role, Macaulay will pilot and lead a new museum guide training program.  She will create curriculum that offers UW undergraduate students from multiple disciplines formal training from Henry staff, developing ...

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10/08/2020

Frances Lee and Stephanie Segura awarded Hugo Fellowships

Lee and Segura headshotsIAS alumni Frances Lee (Master of Arts in Cultural Studies) and Stephanie Segura (MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics) were recently awarded Hugo Fellowships for 2020-21. The Hugo Fellowship supports emerging writers, providing space and resources to four to six fellows in the Seattle area to complete a proposed project ...

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09/17/2020

Meshell Sturgis reviews The Rachel Divide and Fearing the Black Body

Meshell SturgisM.A. in Cultural Studies alum Meshell Sturgis ('17) studies representations of difference and identity in the media using Black feminist critical-cultural communication theories and methods. A Ph.D. candidate in the UW Department of Communication, Sturgis recently published reviews of the documentary film, The Rachel Divide, with co-author Victoria Thomas, and the book, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, by Sabrina Strings.

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08/27/2020

Amadanyo Oguara publishes "Asanda of Agirisaba"

Asanda of Agirisaba book coverAlum Amadanyo Oguara (’16) has published his second book, Asanda of Agirisaba, now available as eBook and in paperback on Amazon. Asanda of Agirisaba is the sci-fi story of an African heroine princess from Agirisaba, a sub-kingdom of The Nembe Kingdom of Nigeria, in West Africa, who by abduction, journeys to a "Fascinating Alien World Of Saturna" and acquires "Weapons of Magical Powers" from the Saturnian Moons of Ringa, Sworda, Spearda, and Shielda and returns back to Earth to become an "Intermediary of Peace and Environmental Crusader" in The Coastal Kingdoms of The Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. The book fulfills Oguara’s vision of the African female heroine...

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08/11/2020

Priya Frank appointed as SAM’s first Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

priya frank headshotPriya Frank has been appointed as  Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Seattle Art Museum (SAM). This new roles grows out of Frank’s ongoing work at SAM to integrate racial equity into the museum’s strategic priorities. ...

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07/17/2020

Meshell Sturgis’s essay on Interrupting Privilege published on Media Rise

Meshell Sturgis photoAlum Meshell Sturgis’s essay has been published in Media Rise’s special issue, Quarantined Across Borders (QAB). Media Rise is a shared collaborative space for artists, educators, storytellers, and activists; the QAB initiative represents 80+ authors across 30+ countries sharing their quarantine stories.

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06/18/2020

Helen K. Thomas receives Fulbright Award to conduct participatory research in Nigeria

Photo of Helen K. ThomasAlum Helen K. Thomas ('16) has received a Fulbright Award to conduct research on using literature to cultivate empowerment and global citizenship in girls in Nigeria. Helen has continued to pursue her research interests in black representation and young adult fiction and its formative power for young black readers.  She will be pursuing ...

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05/29/2020

Alumna of the Year: Priya Frank

Priya FrankPriya Frank has been recognized with a 2020 University of Washington Bothell Alumni of the Year Award. A 2011 graduate of the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies program, Frank is the Associate Director for Community Programs at Seattle Art Museum (SAM), where she focuses on partnerships, programming, and equity-related initiatives. Frank is also the founding chair of SAM’s Equity Team and chair of the Seattle Arts Commission.

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05/14/2020

Alumnus of the year: David Ryder

David RyderSeattle photographer and filmmaker David Ryder, who received a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies (MACS) in 2011, has been recognized with a 2020 University of Washington Bothell Alumnus of the Year Award. In the highly competitive realm of freelance photojournalism, Ryder’s skill and hard work over the last 15-plus years also has earned him recognition and commercial success with an impressive list of media outlets.

Ryder credits his success, in part, to MACS, which gave him space to “think about what I was doing and reflect on doing it in a more meaningful and ethical way, thinking about all the different ways power intersects with journalism, photography and using someone’s image.” 

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5/12/2020

Frances Lee on becoming a bridge person in precarious times

Frances Lee (’18) has published a new essay, “Becoming a Bridge Person in Precarious Times,” through their Bainbridge Residency with The Seventh Wave.  Lee asks, "As people who are called to do bridge work, how do we do so now, in the time of quarantine, global pandemic, and personal, communal and global grief?"... 

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05/01/2020

Helen K. Thomas nominated for Fulbright grant to Nigeria

Helen K. Thomas has been nominated for a Fulbright grant to Nigeria, to pursue an independent project entitled, “Cultivating Self-Determination and Global Citizenship in Girls Through Young Adult Literature”. The proposal is grounded in academic work she completed as part of the Cultural Studies program, and is deeply rooted in her long history of community involvement, particularly with ...

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04/24/2020

IAS names 2020 Hall of Alumni Excellence inductees

Each year IAS honors the extraordinary achievements and contributions of its alumni through the Hall of Alumni Excellence. Congratulations to 2020 inductee, EJ Juarez ('13)! 

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04/09/2020

Amadanyo Oguara publishes “Fisherman's Son”

Book coverAlum Amadanyo Oguara (’16) has published his first book, Fisherman's Son, available on Amazon. Drawing from his Cultural Studies education, Fisherman’s Son follows Oguara's childhood adventures growing up in the fishing villages of Nembe, Nigeria and in the big cities of Lagos and Port Harcourt, Nigeria. It is ...

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02/06/2020

David Ryder covers coronavirus and produces documentary film

travelers at SeaTac airportIAS alum David Ryder (’11) has been an independent Seattle photographer and filmmaker for more than 15 years. His portfolio includes extensive experience with wildfires, disaster zones, and hurricane coverage. Ryder’s most recent work concerns travel restrictions to China due to coronavirus. Later this week he will photograph a U.S. government quarantine facility near North Bend ...

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02/06/2020

Cultural Studies alumni share their career pathways

IAS crow logoThe M.A. in Cultural Studies (MACS) program prepares students for careers in social, cultural, and arts fields or further interdisciplinary graduate education across the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences. Graduates work across diverse roles and sectors, and each winter a panel of alumni are invited to connect with students to share their post-graduate experiences and career navigations. This year students heard from Joshua Heim (’10), Meshell Sturgis (’17), and Mollie Wolf (’15).  Each alum ...

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01/22/2020

Katherine Shaw blends laughter and feminism at The Syndrome Mag

Photo of Katherine ShawKatherine Shaw has always appreciated comedy, and she has recently embraced the title "funny woman." In fact, humor was a much needed relief during her 4+ years working in community health care. Clinic life was extremely stressful, requiring her to respond to life-threatening situations on a daily basis. “Seeing the humorous side of things has always been my form of medication” she says, but the stress took a toll on her personal health. “It's kind of funny - all my years of studying trauma and yet there I was, being traumatized by my career without realizing it,” she says. Eventually, Shaw found her exit and opened a ...

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01/14/2020

My Story: An Artist Around the World

Photo of Mateo OchoaLast spring Cultural Studies alum Mateó B. Ochoa (’19) was awarded the prestigious Bonderman Travel Fellowship, a rare opportunity to travel the world independently. Over the next eight months, Ochoa will visit Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Philippines, Rwanda, South Korea and Ghana ...

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11/14/2019

Mary Jane Topash educates the public on the thrivance of Native communities in the Pacific Northwest

Topash-Mary-Jane.jpgMary Jane Topash (Tulalip and Potawatomi) was working full-time at the Hibulb Cultural Center in Tulalip when she was completing her M.A. in Cultural Studies (‘17) at the University of Washington Bothell. It was during this time when Mary Jane gained interest in addressing issues of (mis)representation and the commodification of Indigenous people in museums. She explained ...

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09/10/2019

Jayne Swift earns Ph.D. in Feminist Studies 

Photo of Jayne SwiftJayne Swift (’10), a member of the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies’ inaugural cohort, graduated with her Ph.D. in Feminist Studies from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies in August 2019. Swift’s dissertation, Lusty Ladies: Sex Work and Sex-Positive Politics, 1970-2013, analyzes the history and politics of sex-positivity through a cultural history...

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08/15/2019

Priya Frank named to Puget Sound Business Journal's 40 Under 40

Photo of Priya FrankThe Puget Sound Business Journal recently unveiled the 2019 40 Under 40 honorees, putting a spotlight on individuals who are among the business community's brightest and most innovative leaders under the age of 40. Among them is M.A. in Cultural Studies alum Priya Frank (’11), Associate Director for Community Programs at Seattle Art Museum (SAM), where she focuses on partnerships, programming, and equity-related initiatives. Frank is also ...

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06/11/2019

Frances Lee discusses the power of citation in activist writing

Photo of Frances LeeIn their article “It Is Just Me, Or Does Activist Writing Need A Citational Practice?,” Cultural Studies alum Frances Lee discusses citing as an exercise of power. Says Lee, “When we fail to give credit to the authors of the ideas we are building upon, we are preventing people from being acknowledged for their gifts, and even robbing them of the ability to get paid.”

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03/28/2019

Alum Avery Viehmann teaches approaches to queer and trans activism

Photo of Avery ViehmannAvery Viehmann (they/them pronouns) grew up in Arkansas and graduated from the M.A. in Cultural Studies (MACS) program in 2016 with an undergraduate degree in Writing and Composition. They have 10 years of teaching experience and spent the last 5 years teaching English at Highline College in Des Moines where they formally served as their Writing Center Director. In February...

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03/01/2019

A Counter-Archive of Imprisonment

Photo of article titleIAS faculty member Dan Berger, M.A. in Cultural Studies alum Magdalena Donea, and UW Bothell Librarians Denise Hattwig and Dani Rowland publish an article in Public: A Journal of Imagining America. The article, "A Counter-Archive of Imprisonment," describes their collective work on the Washington Prison History Project, a digital archive of ...

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01/28/2019

Khairat Salum and Maisha Manson on Black Panther: Representation, gender and decolonization

Photo of Manson and KhairatLast week Black Panther received six Oscar nominations, challenging the norms of a traditional superhero film. As Cultural Studies graduate students, Maisha Manson and Khairat Salum spoke with the UW Graduate School last year about why this groundbreaking film has resonated with black audiences ...

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12/13/2018

Frances Lee writes on the pitfalls of empathy and the commodification of suffering

Frances Lee’s article, “Seeking change without the commodification of pain and suffering,” was published in The Seattle Globalist on Dec 10. The Cultural Studiesalum discusses how social movements rely on emotion and the dead end this creates. “If you don’t care about someone or a group of people until the media has made it abundantly clear that they are suffering, then your concern and engagement is not laudable, but ordinary, expected, and unremarkable.”

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11/14/2018

Joshua Heim - Developing new American communities at the intersection of art, culture, and policy

IAS alum Joshua Heim (’10, M.A. in Cultural Studies) is a cultural builder. Currently Arts Program Manager for the City of Bellevue, Josh has engaged with community development as an artist, an organizer, and a service provider throughout his career.  “Being a cultural builder is about understanding the dynamics of your arts ecosystem, and building systems within it...

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10/17/2018

Alumni Shout Out!

IAS crow logoFrances Lee (’18) has accepted a position as a Program Coordinator at Resource Media. Resource Media is a non-profit communications agency that crafts PR campaigns to promote environmental justice, climate change, and health equity initiatives.

 


10/01/2018

Priya Frank co-facilitates workshop: Storytelling Strategies for Dismantling Racism

In September, alum Priya Frank (’11) co-facilitated the workshop “Storytelling Strategies for Dismantling Racism,” a training hosted by NonWhiteWorks for individuals and organizations working to interrupt structural racism. The workshop examines the power of narratives and concrete strategies for dismantling racist structures through storytelling...

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09/24/2018

Suzanne Cohen directs Expand Upon: Incarceration

Mirror Stage logoCultural Studies alum Suzanne Cohen (’15), Managing Artistic Director of Mirror Stage, presents Expand Upon: Incarceration, featuring David Drummond, Rick Dupree, Adria LaMorticella, Pablo Lopez, Corey Spruill, and Benjamin Symons. Additionally, IAS faculty member Dan Berger will deliver pre-show lectures on the History of Mass Incarceration in the United States on ...

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08/01/2018

Frances Lee publishes free syllabus on critical activist culture

photo of Frances LeeM.A. in Cultural Studies alum Frances Lee ('18) published "Woker Than Thou: an experimental syllabus" for a ten-week course on critical activist culture. Frances makes it a free and accessible resource for educators, activists, and organizers to use and adapt to their community needs.

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07/09/2018

Poetry and Persistence: Belonging and Expression for First-Gen Students of Color

Photo of Angie Cuevas-Winkle“I want to help minoritized students flourish and thrive in higher education. As a Cultural Studies student who wishes to go into Student Affairs, it is important for me to think of the best ways to serve and support diverse populations of students. I am very interested in using poetry as a way to cope, to heal, to create communities, and to make meaning. Being accepted into a university and going to class is not enough to help students succeed in college."

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05/17/2018

Amir Noir Soulkin challenges dominant narratives on perfection

Photo of Amir Noir SoulkinAmir Noir Soulkin (’17) published an article, “Let’s change how we define perfect,” on the Rainier Valley Corps’ (RVC) Change-Makers Blog. Soulkin discusses Western ideas of perfection and the limitations they place on marginalized communities.  Calling for a new paradigm, he writes, “When you really think about it, the human being is an incredible feat in biomechanical construction that blends mind, body and spirit. Human beings are constantly evolving...

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04/17/2018

Meshell Sturgis discusses her academic career and comics scholarship

Photo of Meshell SturgisCultural Studies alum (’17) and Ph.D. student Meshell Sturgis was recently profiled by UW Department of Communication.  The article discusses Sturgis’ academic career trajectory and fascination with comics, which she views as a powerful storytelling device. 

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Priya Frank promotes SAM exhibit “Figuring History” on New Day Northwest

Photo of Priya FrankPriya Frank (’11) discussed Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) exhibit “Figuring History” on KING5 TV’s New Day Northwest.  Figuring History features the works of Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, and Mickalene Thomas, three contemporary American artists from different generations, who challenge the Western tradition of History Painting...

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Image of IAS crowSalem Levesque (’11) and co-author Butch de Castro were published in Public Health Nursing.  Their paper “Using a digital storytelling assignment to teach public health advocacy” describes how digital story making can be utilized as an academic assignment to teach public health advocacy within an undergraduate nursing curriculum.
 


Careers and Cultural Work Roundtable highlights cultural studies values in action

Photo of Cultural Studies alumniAlumni of the Cultural Studies program returned to campus to share their stories about living the values of the program in their work, studies, and lives.  The roundtable discussion on “Careers and Cultural Work” highlighted the flexibility and applicability of cultural studies learning to multiple fields of endeavor, working inside and across institutions, sectors, and communities.

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Image of IAS crowFaith Simonelli (’10) has joined Cocoon House as Prevention Program Manager. Faith is a lifelong Snohomish County resident that advocates for youth and families facing housing and homelessness. Cocoon House empowers young people, families, and the community to break the cycle of homelessness through outreach, housing and prevention.
 


Jeremy Richards infuses leadership development with cultural studies

photo of Jeremy RichardsJeremy Richards ('10) chose the MA in Cultural Studies for its interdisciplinary, practice-based approach.  An accomplished radio producer, writer, and actor rooted in the Seattle arts community, Richards desired a program that would stretch his creativity while broadening his professional options. As a  graduate student, he focused on the writings and music of Friedrich Nietzsche...

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Ryan Dzakovic awarded fellowship with U.S. Department of State

Photo of Ryan DzakovicRyan (Blanco) Dzakovic (’15) is headed to Washington, D.C. for a year-long fellowship with the U.S. Department of State’s Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) Fellowship Program.  VIP Fellowships support veterans’ transition to diplomacy and development careers by providing opportunities to serve within U.S. foreign affairs agencies.  “Having the background in graduate studies prepared me for an opportunity at a caliber I thought I would never achieve,” Dzakovic said. 

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Image of IAS crowEJ Juarez (’14) is now Partnerships and Government Relations Manager for The Seattle Public Library. Previously, he served as Executive Director of Amplify, an organization dedicated to recruiting, training, and electing progressive champions in Washington and Oregon.
 


Erin Sanchez applies cultural studies to entrepreneurship

Photo of Erin SanchezErin Sanchez (’13) is passionate about work/life balance.  After several years of freelancing as a writer and marketing consultant, she launched Candidly Erin to support women in their journeys to “…flee the 9-5 and build businesses they love.”  Drawing from her experiences of procrastination and self-doubt, Erin provides women with business skills and actionable strategies for becoming successful entrepreneurs. Recently, she spoke at Seattle’s GeekGirlCon 2017 on ...

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Mona Halcomb celebrates win for native curriculum in Oregon public schools

Photo of Mona HalcombMona Halcomb (’11) was thrilled to witness Oregon Governor Kate Brown sign Senate Bill 13: Tribal History & Sovereignty Curriculum into law on September 18, 2017. SB 13 requires school districts statewide to implement American Indian/ Alaskan Native curricula covering tribal history and sovereignty. SB 13 fills a critical gap for Oregon’s K-12 children: by the 2019-2020 academic year, all districts must teach the Essential Understandings of Oregon Indians curriculum. As a member of the SB 13 coalition and Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation...

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Noir Soulkin (’17) has been named an Emerging Leaders of Color Fellow with Rainier Valley Corps.  As a fellow, Noir will spend two years serving East African Community Services as their Strategic Initiatives Coordinator.
 
 


Activist Kelsen Caldwell enacts social justice in communities and on buses

Photo of Kelsen CaldwellKelsen Caldwell (’13) continues to expand their horizons and recently became a Housing Justice Organizer with LGBTQ Allyship. In this role, they are helping launch and facilitate the LGBTQ Housing Leadership Institute.  Of this endeavor, Kelsen writes, “Housing costs are on the rise, which puts LGBTQ communities at increased risk of homelessness, displacement, and general economic insecurity. The institute is an awesome opportunity to be part of a cohort of emerging housing justice leaders who can build fierce and grounded solutions...”

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Helen K. Thomas commentary on African American cultural practices featured in the Seattle Times

Photo of Helen ThomasFor a front-page Easter-edition feature on black women and Sunday hats, the Seattle Times drew on the expertise of Helen K. Thomas ('16).

“It’s important to acknowledge,” says Thomas, “that we did not always have authority over our own selves and our own bodies, clothes, hair or looks. We were not, as black women, always afforded the luxury of adorning ourselves. So for us, there is something about wearing a hat that is deep."

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Joshua Heim calls for rethinking the suburbs as a site for the arts

Photo of Joshua HeimJoshua Heim ('10) has recently published a call to rethink the suburbs as a space for arts engagement and development. The article, posted on the Americans for the Arts Artsblog, poses a challenge in its very title: “Over 50 percent of American live and work in suburbs.  Are 50% of them arts leaders?

Since graduating from the MA in Cultural Studies, Heim has worked as ...

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Ronnie Thibault featured by UW Graduate School

Photo of Ronnie ThibaultRonnie Thibault is currently featured on the UW Graduate School website for her work in the interdisciplinary individual, Ph.D. program at UW Seattle.The interdisciplinary graduate program, introduced at the UW in the late 1960s, allows for rigorous academic research outside of a single department.

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Image of IAS crowJoyce Kabura Mwangi ('15) has co-founded the non-profit organization Hohmann Community Services Initiative, which provides low income communities in Snohomish and King County with access basic human services.

 


Community-Engaged work of Nafasi Ferrell featured in UW Bothell’s annual report

Photo of Nafasi FerrellUW Bothell’s 2015-2016 annual report to donors and community features the community-engaged work of Nafasi Ferrell (’15).  For her Cultural Studies capstone project, Nafasi developed and facilitated a three-hour workshop with community members of varying ages in partnership with Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Let’s Talk!! Race and Class Through Hip-Hop and Poetry challenged participants to redefine their understandings of race and class using ...

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Alums Partner with UW Bothell Faculty on Grad and Undergrad Community-Engaged Learning

Photo of alumniMike Irons ('13, Policy Studies) and Nora Karena ('14, Cultural Studies) have been recognized for their facilitation of community-based and applied learning opportunities for UW Bothell graduate and undergraduate students respectively.  Irons, who is Snohomish Superior Court Juvenile Court Program Manager, has engaged Policy Studies students as interns in various programs...

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Joshua Heim Becomes Arts Program Manager for the City of Bellevue

Photo of Joshua HeimJoshua Heim (’10) has accepted a position at the City of Bellevue as their Arts Program Manager.  In this capacity, he will manage cultural planning, grant making, public art programs, and serve as staff liaison to the Bellevue Arts Commission.

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Julie Hurst to be the New Director of Campus Engagement at Seattle University

Photo of Julie HurstJulie Hurst ('15) will be the new Director of Campus Engagement in the Center for Service and Engagement at Seattle University. Julie worked previously in the fields of Student Affairs and Study Abroad. As a graduate student in IAS...

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Nancy Li Will to enter PhD program in Multicultural Education

Photo of Nancy Li WillNancy Li Will ('12) will begin a PhD in Multicultural Education at University of Washington Seattle this fall. After graduating from MACS...

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Priya Frank wins Outstanding Early Career Award

Photo of Priya Frank and David RyderPriya Frank ('11) received the 2015 Outstanding Early Career Award from the UW Seattle Department of Communication. 

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