Alumni Ambassadors

Alumni Ambassadors are alumni representatives who embody the values and aims of the M.A. in Cultural Studies program. As alumni working across diverse roles and sectors, they support prospective students, current students, and fellow alumni by sharing how they've translated their degrees and navigated their careers.

Learn about our Alumni Ambassadors and email them directly at

David Ryder, '11

David Ryder is an independent photographer and filmmaker based in Seattle, Washington.  During the M.A. in Cultural Studies program, he learned to bring a theoretical approach to his photography practice, and his research focused on ethics.

David has work, study, and travel experience in more than 35 countries and has been a professional visual storyteller for more than ten years. His work has appeared in most major editorial outlets, including: Reuters, Getty Images, Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. David also serves on the board of directors of Blue Earth.

Ruth Sawyer, '17

Photo of Ruth SawyerRuth Sawyer grew up in Sacramento, CA and earned a B.A. in geography at Vassar College. For most of their professional life, Ruth has primarily worked in experiential education, teaching topics as varied as boat-building, environmental justice, trail construction, leadership, and marine science. They are passionate about solidarity economy work, paying attention to how organizations and people do their work in addition to what they accomplish, and a wide variety of other topics.

Ruth is especially energized by social justice philanthropy and has found great meaning in their organizing work as Seattle chapter leader for Resource Generation (RG) and Social Justice Fund Northwest (SJF). RG equips young people with wealth and class privilege to become leaders working towards the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power. The local chapter has organized many young people into joining SJF's Giving Projects. Ruth’s Cultural Studies’ research explored transformative approaches to finance and philanthropy. They are currently working with members of Regenerative Finance, Be Invested, and others to create alternative models.

Meshell Sturgis, '17

photo of Meshell SturgisMeshell Sturgis is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington and a Research Assistant for the Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity. As a first-generation scholar, she has earned a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.A. in Cultural Studies (MACS) from the University of Washington Bothell. Her MACS capstone, Catching Crows, is an ongoing creative venture that investigates race, gender, class, sexuality, and many other identities in the context of the academy. Her MACS portfolio contains studies of representations of Black women in comics.

As a Ph.D. student, her work is a continuation of her MACS studies. Additionally, she looks at critical mixed race and American studies through community-engaged research methods. She is a GO-MAP Presidential Dissertation Fellow, Co-Founder of Graduate Leaders for Equity and Difference (G-LEAD) a graduate student club on campus, and member of the Mixed Comix Collective Co-founded with collaborators from the UW Bothell Digital Futures Lab.

Alumni Stories

Learn about other Cultural Studies alumni.