M.A. in Cultural Studies alumni work in a variety of roles and sectors. Learn what our graduates are up to!
Meshell Sturgis reviews The Rachel Divide and Fearing the Black Body
M.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.
Amadanyo Oguara publishes "Asanda of Agirisaba"
Alum 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...
Priya Frank appointed as SAM’s first Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Priya 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. ...
Meshell Sturgis’s essay on Interrupting Privilege published on Media Rise
Alum 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.
Helen K. Thomas receives Fulbright Award to conduct participatory research in Nigeria
Alum 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 ...
Alumna of the Year: Priya Frank
Priya 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.
Alumnus of the year: David Ryder
Seattle 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.”
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?"...
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 ...
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)!
Amadanyo Oguara publishes “Fisherman's Son”
Alum 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 ...
David Ryder covers coronavirus and produces documentary film
IAS 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 ...
Cultural Studies alumni share their career pathways
The 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 ...
Katherine Shaw blends laughter and feminism at The Syndrome Mag
Katherine 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 ...
My Story: An Artist Around the World
Last 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 ...
Mary Jane Topash educates the public on the thrivance of Native communities in the Pacific Northwest
Mary 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 ...
Jayne Swift earns Ph.D. in Feminist Studies
Jayne 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...
Priya Frank named to Puget Sound Business Journal's 40 Under 40
The 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 ...
Frances Lee discusses the power of citation in activist writing
In 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.”
Alum Avery Viehmann teaches approaches to queer and trans activism
Avery 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...
A Counter-Archive of Imprisonment
IAS 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 ...
Khairat Salum and Maisha Manson on Black Panther: Representation, gender and decolonization
Last 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 ...
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.”
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...
Alumni Shout Out!
Frances 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.
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...
Suzanne Cohen directs Expand Upon: Incarceration
Cultural 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 ...
Frances Lee publishes free syllabus on critical activist culture
M.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.
Poetry and Persistence: Belonging and Expression for First-Gen Students of Color
“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."
Amir Noir Soulkin challenges dominant narratives on perfection
Amir 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...
Meshell Sturgis discusses her academic career and comics scholarship
Cultural 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.
Priya Frank promotes SAM exhibit “Figuring History” on New Day Northwest
Priya 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...
Salem 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
Alumni 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.
Faith 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
Jeremy 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...
Ryan Dzakovic awarded fellowship with U.S. Department of State
Ryan (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.
EJ 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
Erin 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 ...
Mona Halcomb celebrates win for native curriculum in Oregon public schools
Mona 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...
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
Kelsen 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...”
Helen K. Thomas commentary on African American cultural practices featured in the Seattle Times
For 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."
Joshua Heim calls for rethinking the suburbs as a site for the arts
Ronnie Thibault featured by UW Graduate School
Ronnie 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.
Joyce 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
UW 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 ...
Mike 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...
Joshua Heim Becomes Arts Program Manager for the City of Bellevue
Joshua 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.
Julie Hurst to be the New Director of Campus Engagement at Seattle University
Julie 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...
Nancy Li Will to enter PhD program in Multicultural Education
Nancy Li Will ('12) will begin a PhD in Multicultural Education at University of Washington Seattle this fall. After graduating from MACS...
Priya Frank wins Outstanding Early Career Award