Graduate Student Representatives (GSR)
GSRs facilitate mechanisms and spaces by which students in the program can contribute to discussions about the program and degree. In this capacity they serve as a resource to other students and the program director.
- 2019 Cohort: Sandra J. and Sabrene Odeh
Connect with current Cultural Studies students, ask questions, arrange a campus tour, and learn about the student experience from our Student Ambassadors.
Current Students by Cohort
Read about some of our dynamic Cultural Studies students, their educational backgrounds, and research interests.
Passia (she/they) is a PNW native born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Passia graduated from The Evergreen State College in 2020 where her scholarship was focused on social justice, African American studies, and gender, women, and sexuality studies. As a Community Outreach Educator for Planned Parenthood, Passia's true passion is centering the experiences of BIPOC youth in sexual health education. She sees the power of culturally responsive, sex-positive, and medically accurate sex education as a mechanism for liberation and social change. Passia is also deeply involved in her community as a community organizer and trauma informed yoga teacher.
African American Studies, Social Movements, Black Liberation, Queer of Color Critique, Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, Critical Race Theory
Associate of Arts, Tacoma Community College; Bachelor of Arts, The Evergreen State College
Isaac Cook Handelman
Isaac was born here in Seattle, but moved east to Spokane after the big ‘01 earthquake. He comes from a family of educators and organizers.
A lifelong writer, reader, filmmaker, and cinephile, Isaac has been driven towards political and social activism in recent years, and now seeks to meld these interests through study and praxis to aid in the struggle for global justice. During his time in the Cultural Studies program, he wants to bridge media analysis with sociological study, drawing connections that add to humanity’s comprehension of the role of culture in shaping society.
Film, Television, and Media studies, Cultural Representation in Media, Marxist theory, Labor studies, Women’s studies, Ethnic studies, Filmmaking, Creative Writing
Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Washington, Seattle
Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Cat has been rooted in Washington state since beginning her undergraduate career at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma in 2013. An interest in media studies since she was a teen led her to learn more about and develop a passion for broad cultural studies during her time as a Communication Studies student.
Many experiences after graduating from Puget Sound in 2017, particularly her work as an AmeriCorps member, have reinforced her strong interest in public scholarship. She is excited to explore this interest further as a graduate student. Cat looks forward to learning more about how to effectively bridge the gaps between theory and praxis in her work during her time with the MA in Cultural Studies program.
In her free time, Cat likes to experiment with new vegan recipes, collect comix and zines, and look for new opportunities to learn and transform outside of academia.
(New) Media Studies; Critical Cultural Studies; Social Movements; Critical Pedagogy; American Studies; Critical Race Theory; Postcolonial Studies; Gender/Queer Studies
University of Puget Sound, BA in Communication Studies, Minor in Gender & Queer Studies
Yangzhaoming (Cecilia) Jiao
Yangzhaoming Jiao also goes by Cecilia. Cecilia was born and raised in Kunming, Yunnan, China. She came to study in America as an International student in 2016. Her parents are from different ethnic groups in China, her father is Yi, and her mother is Naxi. She has always been interested in the mutual influence and role of different cultures. She is also curious about the cultural identity of different people. She also believes that cultural studies can become a solution to many difficult social problems.
Education, Cultural Identities, Asian Culture, Media and Communication, Screenwriting, Intercultural Communication, Globalization
Media Communication Studies, University of Washington Bothell
Sandy (she/they) is a storyteller, writer, performer, and community organizer based out of Austin, Texas. Originally from Houston, Texas, she is the child of two immigrant parents. Sandy currently works as the Associate Director of Programs at a college access organization where she oversees a near-peer mentorship program that supports first generation students to and through their postsecondary journeys. She is also the founder of a budding creative arts organization that put on their first production So Lucky in March 2020. Sandy wrote, produced, and performed in the show.
In her community work as well as in her art, she likes to explore cultural identity, leadership development for students of color, community building, mental health + illness, increasing access for communities of color, and how society interacts with art.
Asian American Studies, Media Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Organizational Development, Writing, Theatre, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
B.A. in English and B.A. Psychology, University of Texas at Austin
Maria Morales was born and raised in the state of Texas. She joined the military right after high school years to become a combat medic in the U.S. Army. Through civilian life, she continued working as a certified Medical Assistant until she decided to continue her path for higher education. In 2015, she graduated with her BA in Interdisciplinary Arts, Global Studies and a Minor in Human Rights through the University of Washington, Bothell Campus. Her interests remain in Emergency Medicine, but knows the importance of cultural education where she can advocate and become an source of agency for marginalized populations.
Impact of women roles in medicine and culture throughout history
Medical Assistant Certificate and BA, Interdisciplinary Arts and Global Studies, (Minor in Human Rights), University of Washington Bothell
Sam (He/They) grew up in Guam, the Philippines & Papua New Guinea. He currently works full-time supporting the hospitality industry online.
Previous experience in performance, advertising, PR & marketing communications helps him create compelling narratives to liberate & transform oppressed cultures into cultures of agency. He is interested in exploring Critical Race/Cultural Studies; Environmental Justice & Social Change.
Their 2 fellowships for Poetry were for writing in 2 different languages - not English. They continue to be published; they also write screenplays, produce plays & films because the languages we speak transform within multiple media.
Sam's meditation practice stems from a Roman Catholic nun's mastery of Zen. They incorporate mindfulness, theatre, & practice groups in exploring the question: “How does Culture translate across borders?
”They will attempt to make this liminal "border" the site for their capstone.
Emergent/Media Studies; Poetry; Intersectional identities: Queer/Postcolonial/Diaspora; Futurism
B.A. in Culture, Literature & the Arts, University of Washington Bothell (Faculty Honors); Certificate MITx u.Lab: Leading from the Emerging Future
Amber Tafoya centers her work on understanding how stories are shared and shaped across borders and cultures. Driven by her experience moving to several states with her family as a child and working for local newspapers in her career, she enjoys collaborating with organizations to create narratives that represent and serve BIPOC communities through writing, editing, and graphic art creation. Amber's research focuses on how Chicana and Latina stories are produced, framed, and consumed in the media: Who has the power to tell and see these stories and how do they impact women in Chicanx/Latinx communities?
Amber fell in love with the Pacific Northwest after moving to Seattle in 2006 from San Antonio, Texas. One of her favorite activities is exploring the outdoors with her two children and partner.
Media Representation and Culture, Chicana and Latina Narratives, Chicana Feminism, Critical Race Theory, Borderland Narratives, Postcolonial Media Studies, Food Culture and Sovereignty
A.A., San Antonio College; B.A. in Journalism, University of Texas at Arlington; B.A. in Chicana/Chicano Studies with a minor in Native American Studies, University of New Mexico; Social Media Strategy, Technologies and Implementation Certificate Program, University of Washington.
Torkan was born in Iran. She is an Azerbaijani poet and feminist. Azerbaijani people are one of the oppressed ethnic minority groups in Iran. Her mother language has been banned by the state. So Torkan never had any chance to be educated in her mother language in the home country. Persian is the only official language of the country.
Seven years before her birthdate, the Islamic revolution happened in Iran, a revolution which directly has targeted women’s life and freedom. Being in the intersection of ethnic discrimination and gender inequality pushed Torkan to think deeply about the reasons and possible solutions of these two major problems in the Iranian society.
Studying the interaction of gender and ethnic inequality
Bachelor's degree in law from Iran, MA degree in International Private Law from Ankara University of Turkey, and a Bachelor's degree in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies from UW, Seattle.
From a young age, Courtney knew she wanted to make the world a better place, but it wasn’t until college that she would find out what her role would be in that process. Her active campus lifestyle provided her an opportunity to find her passion in anti-racist, social justice activism. As a white woman, she has really understood her journey in healing from whiteness as one of recovery and wants to better understand how she can best support other white folks who have an interest in accessing their full humanity.
Courtney enjoys spending the free time she does have with her friends, family, and partner. She is always looking for an available weekend to get outside (at least during the summer) or enjoying the stories that role-playing games and books have to offer in the winter. Courtney knows that while she has come a long way in her growth and development, that her own story is just beginning; she is excited to see where she will be in the future and to feel the full extent of love that this journey might allow her to enjoy.
Interested in critically analyzing the intersection of trauma and Whiteness, observing the ways in which the unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of whiteness create traumatic experiences across cultures. Wanting to use a sort of trauma-informed and multicultural recovery model combination to better understand why and how white folks continue to support and protect systems and societal norms that explicitly and implicitly harm them. Would like to further research or develop a hypothesis that recommends a healing and recovery process for whole communities, cultures, and societies who are seeking to live in their full humanity and dissent from whiteness.
Western Washington University, Bachelor of Human Services; Everett Community College, Associate in Direct Transfer of Arts & Science; The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond Undoing Institutional Racism Workshop
Julie Feng is a storyteller, poet, and community advocate. Rooted by her commitment to building narrative shifts that lead to cultural transformations, she coordinates communications and supports systems-level change towards education justice for the Road Map Project, as well as freelances as a cultural consultant and editor for publishing companies. Previously, she worked with the Peace Corps in Morocco, where she managed youth development programs—including a girls’ leadership initiative in partnership with Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn. In her work, art, engagement, and scholarship, her aim is to center liberation for communities of color. Julie is from Taiwan, grew up in South King County, and is currently based in Seattle.
Cultural Narratives, Education Justice, Community-Based Research, Communications, Literary Arts, Language/Politics of Language, Rhetoric, Poetics, Critical/Liberatory Pedagogies, Systemic Power and Oppression, Critical Race Theory, Sociology, Creative Writing/Writing Studies
B.A. in English/Creative Writing, University of Washington Seattle
Drew's roots flourish throughout eastern Washington; he calls the Puget Sound region home. His current research interests travel around the institutional development of community colleges, Adult Basic Education programming, and social movements. He discovered joy in supporting students' experiences in learning. His personal commitment centers around supporting remedies in patterns of generational trauma by revisiting the history of the everyday classroom. Drew hopes the innovative teaching and dynamic curriculum that the University of Washington Bothell introduces to students will supplement drives towards developing into an educator at community college contexts.
Labor Studies, Political Science and Storytelling : Transformational, Liberatory Pedagogy : Psychology, Linguistics and Social Movement
University of Washington, BA, History and Labor Studies
Sandra (they/them) is a Han Chinese American genderqueer raised in the Bay Area, nurtured in San Diego, and currently finding roots in Olympia, WA. Throughout their undergraduate career, Sandra’s activist work centered upon queer/trans people of color community issues and fostering educational equity for marginalized, low income youth of color. Scholastically, Sandra’s undergraduate research project ‘Queer(ing) Childhood Sexual Assault’ looked at the complexities of queer/trans childhood sexual assault survivors of color. Academically, Sandra is interested in continuing their undergraduate research by examining the ways in which the U.S. has historically institutionalized childhood sexual abuse as a tactic of power and control, and how that legacy of violence continues to impact queer/trans black folk, indigenous folk, and people of color. Outside of academia, Sandra enjoys fostering mind/body connection, cultivating an ever changing art practice, creating character backstories for their outfits, and experimenting in the kitchen.
Trauma Studies, Queer of Color Critique, Settler Colonialism, Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Gender and Sexuality Studies
University of California San Diego, Bachelors of Arts in Literature/Writing and Critical Gender Studies
I was born in Missouri, raised in Tennessee and here I am in the Evergreen state, Washington! I have a passion for helping others find and create an identity and space that they are comfortable being in. As a multiracial individual myself, I learned how important it is to find that place of belonging. While working on my degrees on and off, I have worked for the Community and Technical College system in their Student Funded Programs office and have done several trainings and talks on power, privilege, and equity. I want to continue to inspire students to push for social justice and equality for all people.
Multiracial identity development, Critical Race Theory, Borderlands Theory, Chicana Feminist Theory, Latinx, Asian Americans
Bachelor's in Anthropology, Bachelor's in Race and Culture Studies, minors in Africana Studies, Chincanx Studies, and Native American Studies from Eastern Washington University, June 2019
I am interested in academic research that will build upon my Global Studies degree focusing on early modern globalization. My interests revolve around my lifelong love for history and studying Spanish in my undergraduate degree which sparked my interest in Spain and colonization of Latin America. I am interested in learning more about the culture that came out of this process. I would like to apply this knowledge towards a career in the museum field and/or teaching.
Early modern globalization in the America’s / museum field
Global Studies with a minor in Policy Studies, University of Washington Bothell; Legal office assistant certificate EVCC
Ray Lindquist was born and raised on the Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest. Coming from a rural area that garnered attention from the film industry, he is eager to study how various entertainment forms influence or are influenced by the larger culture, along with what problems and solutions can be created through it. As a first-generation student with a disability, he is passionate about finding solutions to help increase inclusiveness and representation of traditionally under-represented minorities in American culture through the study of other cultures. He is also interested in cross-cultural studies between American and Japanese culture.
Outside of his graduate studies, Ray is an avid wildlife photographer and writer of his own science-fantasy series. He also loves to cook the foods found in his favorite games, films and books. In the future he hopes to return to Japan to continue to study the Japanese language and culture.
Cross-cultural studies of American and Japanese culture past and present; Entertainment media's role and impact on culture; Deconstructing stereotypes and stigma; Disability studies and representation, Stigmatized subcultures and populations, Gaming and internet culture
Associate in Arts - Journalism emphasis, Peninsula College, Bachelor in Arts - Cultural Studies emphasis, The Evergreen State College
I have always been interested in knowing about other cultures and understanding how people see the world. I love to see things from different perspectives and studying culture is the best way to get the true knowledge about people and their heritage. I started collecting some of the popular folktales in my country with the thought of publishing them one day.
Folklore, folktales and languages
Postgraduate Diploma in Folklore and Bachelor degree in Languages, University of Khartoum.
Mary Mobarak was raised in Orlando, FL and found a passion for history, culture, and museums at a young age. These interests were further realized while studying Humanities at the University of Central Florida. Upon graduation in 2009, she took a job in insurance to make ends meet. After a few years, she realized she was not pursuing her passions, quit her job, and moved to Seattle. After nearly five years of waiting tables, she decided it was finally time to return to academia and recognize her dream of teaching at community college to share her enthusiasm for the humanities in an ever-changing culturally global community. In addition, she would like to work in museums to develop community access programs. In her spare time, she enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy short stories, reading, rollerblading, and volunteering at the Museum of Pop Culture.
Modern Humanities, Mythology/Folklore, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Teaching
Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, University of Central Florida
I am a Palestinian American Muslim woman. I was born and raised here in Seattle. I believe that one of the most important things to know about me is that I have a fire inside me to help people. Through my time at UW Bothell I have been able to better understand what that means to me and I am hoping to continue exploring it throughout the MA in Cultural Studies program.
I would love to tell you all what I do in my free time, but I'm still waiting for the free time to make its way in to my life.
I'm still trying to figure out how to explain my research interests
Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior with a Minor in Human Rights, University of Washington Bothell.
Vildana was born in Croatia, however her family is Bosnian. They moved to Washington when she was just five-and-a-half months old. Her family was the first Bosnian family to live in Washington State. Raised by two strong, resilient parents, the importance of work ethic and education was instilled in her early on.
In her free time, Vildana enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and her dog, Leo, as well as kickboxing, hiking, reading, swimming, and cooking.
Equity in Education, school to prison pipeline, activism, social movements, culturally relevant teaching
University of Washington Bothell, Bachelor of Arts Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior(Magna Cum Laude) Minor in Education and Society
Brian Crisanto Ramos
Brian Crisanto Ramos is a proud member of the Pipil, Lenca, and Mayan Nations of Central America. Son to Salvadorian refugees he is a byproduct of a resilient community dedicated to the advancement of the people and the preservation of our identity. As the Associate Director of Retention and Transitional Studies, Brian has served his community in a variety of capacities. From mentoring indigenous youth and creating spaces for Indigenous students to redesigning institutional systems to become more equitable, his voice has added to institutional changes.
Brian has created and collaborated to create several workshops on designing equitable systems, exploring the Latinx Identity, and Indigenous empowerment. Through his Los Angeles roots, Brian has learned to challenge systems designed by and for the dominate culture while maintaining himself rooted in the voices of the ever resilient communities of color.
Latin American Studies, Indigenous studies, Identity development, Critical Race Theory, Dismantling Colonialism, Development of equitable systems, Development of theories of equity in higher education, Post Capitalism, Empowerment of Black & Brown communities, Reclamation of Identity in a colonial world, Reclamation of Black & Brown Spirituality, Combating the evangelizing of Indigenous peoples, Indigenous resistance, Healing of generational trauma, Reclaiming Brown & Black Heritage
Edmonds Community College and Seattle University, with a BA in Political Science, focusing on Critical Race Theory.
Sonia Rodriguez is a Mexican American gamer born and raised in Seattle. She struggled with early education and it wasn’t until she attended Nova HS that she found her passion for geek culture and creative writing. Wanting to move on with her education, she decided to get her GED and (with her parents influence) to pursue her A.A. Shortly after, she attended cosmetology school and worked as a Hairstylist until 2016.
January 2018, she began her BA in Culture, Literature and the Arts and in the summer of the same year she was accepted into the Summer Institute of Arts and Humanities and was named a Mary Gates Scholar. Her research has focused on tech policy in kids’ games/apps, tech and hacker culture, storytelling through various mediums, and death culture.
Her interests include playing video games, watching video-essays about games, and testing out various artistic mediums.
Representations of Gender and Race in video games, Storytelling through video games, Educational video games for children and Tech Policy in relation to children's apps. Creative interests include digital art, watercolor, photography and poetry
B.A. in Culture, Literature and the Arts, University of Washington Bothell 2019.
Whitney was born in Ohio but grew up in the Pacific Northwest and couldn’t imagine calling anywhere else home. She was raised by a single mother and loud Italian family, who instilled in her a stubborn work ethic and a deep social awareness.
Whitney is not only a grad student, but a wife, mother of 2 boys who are 14 and 11 and program manager of navigator services at a non-profit, which serves the homeless population of Snohomish County. As a first generation college student, Whitney’s family is her biggest support systems and cheerleaders (although, they do wonder how much caffeine one person can safely consume).
Whitney’s personal interests are reading, writing and hanging out with people who make her laugh and enjoy her sarcastic sense of humor….and collecting T-Rex trinkets, but that is a silly story for another day.
Whitney’s current work in homeless services has opened her eyes to how policies and laws that are in play today perpetuate a system full of problems. Her desire and passion for social justice has led her to looking at large issues of systemic racism and generational poverty to see how those interplay with local law and policy. Her other interests are advocacy and human rights.
Western Washington University, Bachelor of Arts in Human Services (Summa Cum Laude)