Alumni Stories

M.A. in Cultural Studies alumni work in a variety of roles and sectors. Learn what our graduates are up to!


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...

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Alumni Shout Out!

IAS crow logoFrances 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...

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Suzanne Cohen directs Expand Upon: Incarceration

Mirror Stage logoCultural 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 ...

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Frances Lee publishes free syllabus on critical activist culture

photo of Frances LeeM.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.

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Poetry and Persistence: Belonging and Expression for First-Gen Students of Color

Photo of Angie Cuevas-Winkle“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."

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Amir Noir Soulkin challenges dominant narratives on perfection

Photo of Amir Noir SoulkinAmir 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...

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Meshell Sturgis discusses her academic career and comics scholarship

Photo of Meshell SturgisCultural 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. 

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Priya Frank promotes SAM exhibit “Figuring History” on New Day Northwest

Photo of Priya FrankPriya 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...

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Image of IAS crowSalem 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

Photo of Cultural Studies alumniAlumni 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.

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Image of IAS crowFaith 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

photo of Jeremy RichardsJeremy 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

Photo of Ryan DzakovicRyan (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. 

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Image of IAS crowEJ 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

Photo of Erin SanchezErin 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 ...

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Mona Halcomb celebrates win for native curriculum in Oregon public schools

Photo of Mona HalcombMona 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...

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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

Photo of Kelsen CaldwellKelsen 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

Photo of Helen ThomasFor 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."

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Joshua Heim calls for rethinking the suburbs as a site for the arts

Photo of Joshua HeimJoshua Heim ('10) has recently published a call to rethink the suburbs as a space for arts engagement and development. The article, posted on the Americans for the Arts Artsblog, poses a challenge in its very title: “Over 50 percent of American live and work in suburbs.  Are 50% of them arts leaders?

Since graduating from the MA in Cultural Studies, Heim has worked as ...

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Ronnie Thibault featured by UW Graduate School

Photo of Ronnie ThibaultRonnie 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.

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Image of IAS crowJoyce 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

Photo of Nafasi FerrellUW 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 ...

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Alums Partner with UW Bothell Faculty on Grad and Undergrad Community-Engaged Learning

Photo of alumniMike 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...

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Joshua Heim Becomes Arts Program Manager for the City of Bellevue

Photo of Joshua HeimJoshua 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.

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Julie Hurst to be the New Director of Campus Engagement at Seattle University

Photo of Julie HurstJulie 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

Photo of Nancy Li WillNancy 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

Photo of Priya Frank and David RyderPriya Frank ('11) received the 2015 Outstanding Early Career Award from the UW Seattle Department of Communication. 

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