Current Students

Note on 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.

2017 Cohort: Ayva Thomas 
2018 Cohort: Kirby Stolzoff

Read about some of our dynamic Cultural Studies students, their educational backgrounds, and research interests.

2018 Cohort

Profiles Coming Soon!

2017 Cohort

Portia BoylePortia Boyle

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Portia loves to travel and listen to other people’s experiences, and to ask questions. Most recently, she has been to Spain to study the politics of soccer, and lived with a host family in León. As a first generation student, Portia is learning about the challenges and struggles navigating higher education, as well as the privilege and opportunities it has to provide. In her spare time she likes to read, listen to music, spend time with her family doing many activities - which includes marine sports, and roller skating. Portia is excited to add to her family, by welcoming her first child into the world in December 2016.

Research Interests: Reimagining the roles of the nonprofit sector, and philanthropy using feminist theory; U.S. and Global Social Movements, including the role and power of The Arts in Social Movements; Media Studies, Public Culture and Scholarship. Portfolio Advisor: Dan Berger.

Academic Background: University of Washington Bothell, Bachelor of Arts in Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior and in Global Studies; Edmonds Community College, Associate of Arts

image of Ali CohenAli Cohen

Ali Cohen currently works for a local college, teaching classes for students over 21 that culminate in a high school diploma. She also is helping organize a similar pathway for students under 21 so they could be served beyond their local high school. A beneficiary and advocate of non-traditional education models, she's worked in various schools and non-profits in South Texas, South Carolina, the DC/MD area, and Washington. She made the decision to pursue Cultural Studies so she could elaborate on content to teach and to better contribute to and understand schools’ equity plans and activism.

Her personal hobbies include talking too long to cashiers, making music, guerrilla gardening, spending $40 on ingredients to make a meal that would have cost $7, and painting junk gold and calling it “vintage." Her personal aspiration is to have a crow that hangs out with her and sits on her shoulder.

Research Interests: Black Oppression and Resistance, Border Studies, White Cognitive Dissonance and the Erasure of Native/Indigenous Populations

Academic Background: Special Education, Coastal Carolina University (Magna Cum Laude) Bachelor of Arts in Education, Richard & Karen Spivey Academic Scholarship, Women in Philanthropy Scholarship for “Women Making a Difference”

image of Randizia CrisostomoRandizia B. Crisostomo

Randizia was born and raised on the Island of Guahan (Guam) and has lived in the U.S. with her family for over ten years. She graduated from the University of Washington, Seattle with her bachelor's degree with a major in Anthropology and minor in American Indian Studies which she completed in
2016. Her passion lies in Indigenous knowledge and learning the different ways it can be included into various areas of decolonizing educational institutions. She is very family oriented and loves to spend her free time at family bbq’s or gatherings. Her interests include drawing, trying new foods, hiking, and playing video games.

Research Interests: Indigenous Studies in Oceania with a focus on the region of Micronesia (Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, FSM, Republic of Palau (ROP), Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), etc.); Decolonizing museums through community engagement, and healing intergenerational trauma in the Marianas through storytelling

Academic Background: University of Washington, Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology; minor in American Indian Studies.

Image of Ranna HarbRanna Harb

Ranna Harb is passionate about working and collaborating with others in all aspects. She majored in Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior and wishes to continue her education through the Cultural Studies program at UW Bothell. Ranna is looking forward to enriching her learning through discussion and question.

In her free time, Ranna enjoys traveling, reading, biking, and spending time with family and friends. She was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and loves the rain and cloudy days. She is a first generation Palestinian American and is always looking for ways to learn more about her heritage as it is very important to her. Ranna hopes to apply the ideas and learnings from the Cultural Studies program and use it as a tool when it comes to discussing the complexities of Palestine and its people.

Research Interests: Social Movements, Human Rights

Academic Background: University of Washington, Bachelor of Arts in Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior

image of Shan JiangShan Jiang

Shan was born and raised in China. She has started to study abroad since she graduated from her high school in 2007. In the past 10 years, she studied in Argentina, the U.S., and Spain. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 2015. After that, she worked for two non-profit organizations and helped the local community in Green Bay. She also became involved with a few international non-profit organizations and had chances to volunteer for supporting rural education in China and Mexico. She enjoys working with children.

In her free time, she loves cooking, drawing, playing piano, yoga, hiking, and volunteering. In 2016, she moved to the Seattle area from Wisconsin. She looks forward to a new journey of cultural exploration at UW Bothell.

Research Interests: The importance of self-identification in multiculturalism; youth development in the bilingual/multilingual generation; the relationship of Artificial Intelligence and humanities

Academic Background: The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies; minor in Human Development

image not availableBilen Million

Bilen graduated from UW Bothell with a Bachelor’s in Society, Ethics and Human Behavior and a minor in Human Rights. Since graduating, she has worked in a variety of roles at the UW furthering her passion of making higher education accessible as a first generation student. She hopes to further her education in Race, Gender & Women studies. Bilen recently co-lead a UW Study Abroad trip to Ghana which was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences she’s had in her professional career.

Research Interests: Gender-Based Violence, Black Feminism, Black-led Social Movements

Academic Background: University of Washington Bothell, Bachelor of Arts in Society, Ethics and Human Behavior; minor in Human Rights

Bárbara AlexandraMateó B. Ochoa

Mateó (they/elle) is a K’iche Guatemalan hailing from the barrios of LA where their passion for community organizing first sparked. For 6 years, they participated in cultural work throughout Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and the Bay Area addressing crucial issues around systemic racism, gender justice, and education. During their undergrad, Mateó received the Excellence in Writing: Visual Rhetoric Award by the University of Utah and competed nationally with the John R. Park Debate Society. To transition into their creative process, Mateó participated in QEAR, one of the nation’s first performance art residencies for young queer people of color in Oakland. Since then, Mateó has exhibited art work at Qulture Collective, SOMArts, the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics and performed with Topsy Turvy Queer Circus at Brava Theatre in San Francisco. Mateó dedicates their time outside of academia cultivating art and building intentional spaces with queer and trans youth of color.

Research Interests: Performance Studies, Settler Colonialism, Power and Oppression, Critical Cultural Studies, Youth Justice

Academic Background: University of Utah, Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies and Writing & Rhetoric Studies

image of Brandon PearsonBrandon Pearson

Brandon is an avid reader and bibliophile who has a deep love for the Pacific Northwest. As a teen he discovered a passion for education and social justice through his local PFLAG community and left his comfort zone to speak at area high schools about his experiences as a queer youth with a panic disorder. This work led him to interact with the Diversity and Equity Center at his community college where he soon became employed. He worked for 5 years with international students while completing his undergraduate education with a concentration in cultural studies.

Research Interests: Finding strategies to interrupt and ultimately dismantle the preschool-to-prison pipeline; intersections between art, activism, and identity primarily via comics; discovering ways to break down barriers to educational equity especially in regards to students and families living in poverty.

Academic Background: The Evergreen State College, Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies; South Puget Sound Community College, Associate of Arts

image of Kaytie ProffKaytie Proff

Kaytie is an academic adviser for a community college in Washington State. She graduated with her degree in Social Work from the University of Washington. In the past two years Kaytie has facilitated annual workshops around intersectionality and even led a discussion around intersectionality at the Students of Color Conference in Yakima earlier this year. Kaytie is a Korean American Adoptee who has a passion for listening to people’s experiences and stories. She is also a big Disney fan. In her down time she is the adviser for her school’s Harry Potter club and is planning her wedding for next summer.

Research Interests: Disney and its influence on the way society (mainly children) grow up and assume different identities and stereotypes, intersectionality - how intersecting identities create new barriers and opportunities for individuals

Academic Background: University of Washington Seattle, Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, Associates of Arts degree, Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Professional Certificate, Mental Health First Aid USA Certificate 

Natalie-Smith.jpgNatalie Smith

Natalie Smith was born in the U.S. and moved to Israel as a young child. Being bilingual and multinational exposed her to different cultural worlds and gave her the curiosity and need to tap into different narratives and investigate them. She graduated from the Multidisciplinary Programs of the Arts at the University of Tel Aviv, Israel. Her studies combined theory with the history of art and film, giving her tools to analyze visual images across disciplines. In her research she is drawn to larger questions regarding the role of culture in society: Who defines what is considered good or bad art? Who are the cultural gatekeepers? Is art actually accessible to different publics or is it available only to a closed elite group? After graduation she has worked as head curator and manager of a private gallery in Tel Aviv and as the Assistant Curator at the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel.
Her interests include film and television, experimenting with new food in the kitchen, spending time with her two kids and exploring her new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Research Interests: Visual Culture, Contemporary Art, Film and Media Theory,  Gender, Women and Sexuality, Critical Race Theory.

Academic Background: University of Tel Aviv, Bachelor of Arts Multidisciplinary Programs of the Arts major in Art History and Film Theory. Venice International University, ERASMUS Program of Law, History and Arts. Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, M.A Studies - Policy and Theory of the Arts. University of Washington, GNM Studies - Comparative Literature Cinema and Media. 

Ayva ThomasAyva Thomas

Ayva was born and raised in Lynnwood, WA, though her roots extend from the Caribbean to Canada. She has valued education since she could talk because her mom had constant conversations with her about the importance of it, she is 2/3 introvert and 1/3 extrovert, and she loves to be around people who make her laugh. Ayva started the North Star College Mentorship Program in 2014 with research that she did in one of her undergraduate courses, and the program continues to expand. She hopes to turn North Star into a non-profit organization. Ayva is passionate about equity in education, helping first generation students get to college, and being a lifelong student and educator. In her free time, she enjoys lifting weights and competing in fitness competitions. Ayva aspires to get her PhD and become a director of diversity and equity for a public school district.

Research Interests: equitable approaches in education, multicultural education, prison system/ school to prison pipeline 

Academic Background: University of Washington Bothell, Bachelor of Arts in Community Psychology (Magna Cum Laude)

image of Melina TovarMelina Tovar

Roots grounded in the mossy woodlands of the Pacific Northwest, Melina finds delight in the quiet surprises of the human experience; a great story expressed by many faces, times, and landscapes. She graduated from the University of Washington – Bothell with an undergraduate degree in Society, Ethics, & Human Behavior and a minor in Consciousness Studies. She has decided to respond to the call of the times by greeting it with her own passions for social justice and cultural wisdom. Melina has thus found herself amidst an ever-emerging journey to discover the undercurrents and overtones of belief systems, histories, social relations, power dynamics, and their human expression through local, abstract, and geopolitical life.

Research Interests: LGBTQ Studies, Queer Theory, Allyship & Solidarity Practices, Social Movements, Sex Education, Multicultural Education, Pedagogy, Feminist Studies

Academic Background: University of Washington Bothel, Bachelor of Arts in Society, Ethics, & Human Behavior; minor in Consciousness Studies

image of Kristina WhippleKristina Whipple

Kristina has spent about half of her life on the east coast and half of her life on the west coast and loves them both in different ways. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 2003 as a single mother to a then 5 year old son, who is currently in pursuit of his own bachelor’s degree. Highlights of Kristina’s life include: co-directing and co-producing a short documentary film; building her own house through a low income housing program where she currently lives with her human and feline family; organizing a range of diverse fundraising events varying significantly in scope from a corn maze for a rural Waldorf school, to a Fourth of July extravaganza for a city of 60,000; and coordinating programs from youth arts to social services.

Kristina looks forward to occasionally getting out of the lovely bubble that is the Olympic Peninsula to pursue her MACS at UW Bothell.

Research Interests: The cultural factors that continue to, perpetuate, and serve to sustain patterns of intrafamilial, organizational, and other forms of sexual abuse; oral history as primary source material to highlight under-represented voices; and United States public history

Academic Background: Leadership Institute of Seattle, Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science

Contact a Student Ambassador

Connect with current Cultural Studies students, ask questions, arrange a campus tour, and learn about the student experience from our Student Ambassadors.