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 iasalum@uw.edu.

Nafasi Ferrell, '15

Photo of Nafasi FerrellNafasi Ferrell is a bridge builder, facilitator and consultant with over 8+ years’ experience working to transform and advance racial equity and social justice. Hailing from Altadena, California, a place rooted deep in diversity of race, place and experiences, she is deeply committed to creating spaces of dialogue across cultures and generations. 

For her Cultural Studies capstone project, Nafasi developed and facilitated a three-hour workshop with community members of varying ages in partnership with the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA). Let’s Talk!! Race and Class Through Hip-Hop and Poetry challenged participants to redefine their understandings of race and class using the mediums of hip-hop and poetry.  Nafasi’s capstone intended to demonstrate the value of cross-generational, interracial community spaces and advocate for them as a site in which to imagine new ways of engaging with and understanding current circumstances and issues.

Since graduating, Nafasi has served as the DNDA Cultural Events Project Coordinator running a nine event series, and as a Project Specialist where she developed the Let’s Talk Race Series for the Delridge community to connect organizations and individuals through film, dialogue, storytelling and restorative justice. She is currently the Community Programs Manager for DNDA where she manages a Restorative Justice Program across three interagency school sites aimed to expand understandings and methods of restorative practices and support youth growth and leadership. 

Nafasi has also begun to expand her work to encompass Financial Literacy and Economic Equity. In January 2019 she formed Narratives Unbound LLC, an education and company dedicated to transforming racial and economic equity one conversation at a time. Services include financial coaching, media and interactive workshops rooted in restorative practices. 

Heath Hayden, '12

Photo of Heath HaydenHeath Ray Hayden is Interim Dean of Library & eLearning at Bellevue College. They were born and raised in southern Maryland and attended Bennington College for their undergraduate degree. In 2006 Heath completed a Masters of Science Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute in New York City and moved to Seattle, WA to accept a project archivist position at UW Seattle. Heath joined Lake Washington Institute of Technology in 2008 as a faculty librarian, which allowed them to pursue a Masters of Cultural Studies (MACS) degree at UW Bothell between 2010 and 2012. 

Heath is proud of getting their start in community college and their work in the MACS program has informed the ways they navigate the higher education system. While in the MACS program, Heath explored zine-making as an alternative form of knowledge production, and found it to be a cathartic process for examining critical intersections in cultural studies, as well as a helpful medium for interrupting LGBTQIA+ representations in mainstream media. Heath continues this work at Bellevue College with undergraduate students in Cultural and Ethnic Studies courses, helping them navigate the zine as one alternative (or supplement to) the research paper. In the future, Heath hopes to continue their work centering and advocating for all students. 

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 work with members of Regenerative Finance, Be Invested, and others to create alternative models, and they are currently working by day as a climate and clean energy organizer with the Sierra Club. 

Meshell Sturgis, '17

photo of Meshell SturgisMeshell Sturgis is a doctoral Candidate 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 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 part of an ongoing creative and public scholarship venture that investigates the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, and difference. Her MACS portfolio contains studies of representations of Black women in comics.

As a scholar-practitioner, Meshell combines various qualitative methods in order to express Black Studies through eclectic art productions and comix. She is a GO-MAP Presidential Dissertation Fellow, Co-Founder of Graduate Leaders for Equity and Difference (G-LEAD) a graduate student club on the UW Bothell campus, and member of the Mixed Comix Collective which she co-founded with collaborators from UW Bothell in 2017.


Alumni Stories

Learn about other Cultural Studies alumni.