Student Ambassadors

Welcome and thank you for your interest in Cultural Studies at the University of Washington Bothell.  The Student Ambassadors are current graduate students in the Cultural Studies program who have volunteered to connect with prospective and newly admitted students and answer any questions you may have about the student experience. Read more about our Student Ambassadors below and feel free to reach out directly to them by emailing

Meet the Cultural Studies Student Ambassadors

Shayna Elbling, 2014 Cohort

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I lived in Oakland, California for the past decade before coming to Seattle for the MACS program. Before starting the program, I worked in youth education for many years. I also hesitantly identify as a writer and multimedia artist. My partner and I are overjoyed about the upcoming arrival of our daughter in September, and I'm looking forward to the challenges of being a new parent in graduate school during my second year in the program.

My academic and personal commitments branch in two major directions. One revolves around radical social justice education, restorative justice, critical pedagogy, and critical curriculum studies, and is inspired by my experiences working in schools. The other branch stems from my own search for mindbodyspirit health and attempts to grow connections between healing justice, holistic healing traditions, embodied ways of knowing, critical whiteness studies, and the social and environmental determinants of health.

Because my interests are so broad, I appreciate how flexible and open the MACS program is. The interdisciplinary approach has pushed my thinking, but it has really been through my interactions with faculty, staff and my fellow students that I've grown the most, both as a scholar and a person. 

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Josie Garcia-Turner, 2014 Cohort

My name is Josie Garcia-Turner, I came to MACS by way of California. I grew up a weird queer kid in the Central Valley and found my calling up here in the Pacific Northwest amongst the trees. My research is interested in the collisions and ruptures of violence, representation, and social justice activism. Specifically my current focus is in transgender studies and how radical art produced by queer, trans, people of color intervenes in discourse around visibility. Besides that I dabble in making music, studying anatomy, and scoping out good vegan food in the area.

MACS has been a great asset and environment for me to play around with different research ideas and activist projects, and grab hold of the tenuous and ever-fleeting threads that connect them. The real gem of this program is the amazing staff and faculty who compose it. They all contribute to helping me realize my aspirations whether academic or not.

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Marcus Johnson, 2014 Cohort

As an undergraduate student at UW Bothell I won a prestigious Mary Gates Scholarship for the summer of 2012, winter and spring quarters of 2013. Expanding on my accomplishments as a Global Studies major, and Human Rights minor, I have worked with IAS faculty member Benjamin Gardner on “The Multi Dimensions of Blackness: Cultural Hegemony in the United States and Abroad.” My research stems from a “disquieting” encounter I had while visiting family in the Dominican Republic that catalyzed my interest in different formations of “blackness” in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the United States.

My comparative project will situate issues of race within the domestic dynamics of the United States and the international aspects that contribute to the lives of Afro-Dominicans, Afro-Haitians, and Afro-Americans today. As a Mary Gates Scholar, I look forward to continuing my research on key issues in the Dominican Republic. As a Mary Gates Scholar, and Undergraduate Research Leader alum, I have now joined a unique community of other UW leaders, researchers, and alumni in the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies program.

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