Alumni Ambassadors

Alumni Ambassadors are alumni representatives who embody the values and aims of the MA 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

Trina Ballard, '10

Trina BallardTrina Ballard was in the first cohort of graduates from the Cultural Studies program, which launched in 2008. Her graduate studies focused on the democratization of science (“citizen science”) and its intersection with grassroots activism around fresh water quality and commodification. Trina also presented a paper she wrote during the Cultural Studies program (“Chews Wisely ~ the Politics of Chewing Gum”) at the 2013 Cultural Studies Association Conference in Chicago. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Washington and a minor in Scandinavian Studies.

Trina is proud to be a fourth-generation Washingtonian and has worked as an administrator in higher education for nearly two decades, both at Bellevue College and at Central Washington University, Kent. Desiring to have more direct engagement and mentorship with students, Trina began teaching Communication Studies in 2014. She is currently teaching at South Seattle College while working on a Ph.D. in Adult Higher Education at Oregon State University.

Alexandra Holien, '15

Alexandra Holien graduated from MA in Cultural Studies program in 2015 and pursued the tech sector as a site for cultural disruption. She is Director of Business Development at Ada Developers Academy, a non-profit whose mission is to diversify the tech industry by providing women and people of non-binary gender the skills, experience, and community support to become professional software developers. At Ada, Alexandra develops corporate partnerships which support operations and provide student internships, allowing Ada to attract a diverse applicant pool and offer tuition-free training. 

Prior to Ada, Alexandra worked in sales and marketing and earned a bachelor’s degree in American Ethnic Studies from University of Washington.

David Ryder, '11

David Ryder is an independent photographer and filmmaker based in Seattle, Washington.  During the MA in Cultural Studies program, he learned to bring a theoretical approach to his photography practice, and his research focused on ethics.

David has work, study, and travel experience in more than 35 countries and has been a professional visual storyteller for more than ten years. His work has appeared in most major editorial outlets, and he’s a member of the board of directors of Blue Earth.

Alumni Stories

Learn about other Cultural Studies alumni.