Graduate Profiles

Sonja Carlson - American Popular Culture

Immediately following graduation, Sonja moved from Berkeley to Los Angeles and began working as an administrator at a small independent elementary school. For two years, she led the after school enrichment program and managed the schools internal and external communications. Sonjas duties increasingly involved working in the admissions office, assisting with prospective parent communications, event coordination, and the collection of admissions data and materials. Beginning in July 2016, she transitioned from the enrichment coordinator position to the full-time admissions and communications assistant. Sonja is currently applying to graduate programs in library science and archival studies.

History 124B: The United States from World War II to the Vietnam Era
African American Studies 142AC: Race and American Film
Media Studies 101: Visual Communications
American Studies 101AC: World War II
American Studies 101: The Birth of Consumerism
American Studies H110: The New Literary History of America

Thesis Sonja Carlson : - The Making of an American Girl: Perspectives of Race and Class in the Literature of The American Girl Collection (Class of 2014)

Sonjas honors thesis unpacks the cultural work of American Girls products by looking at the dolls, books, and accessories as tools of childhood education. The histories presented by American Girl characters are often a young girls first foray into American history, giving great power to the stories. Many critics of American Girl question whether or not the narratives are accurate, disregarding that history is a series of ideologies and perspectives retold as truth. American history is regularly told from a white and upper-class perspective, disregarding the experiences of others. The characters of American Girl and their stories tackle gender, race, and class conflicts throughout American history but rarely present histories different from the normatively white cultural readings of history present in textbooks. When the history is presented from a Black or Latino standpoint, the American-ness of the character is questioned, signaling a division in the message and cultural work being done by the narrative. American Girls products reinforce the normative white values instead of pushing boundaries and urging young and impressionable girls to explore new perspectives and question what they have been taught as fact. The first chapter discussed the relationship between dolls, books, and play, giving an understanding of how dolls and doll-play help form understandings of what it means to be young, female, and American. Three character case studies followed, with each focusing on how class and race are constructed within the characters six-book series. The final chapter explored how education and the historical characters were reconsidered under Mattels ownership beginning in 1998.

Patty Chen - Race, Ethnicity, and Nation

Patty spent the summer after graduation studying for the LSAT and working. She assisted a lawyer doing every day tasks, such as preparing documents to file in court and maintaining an organized electronic and physical copy of all documents to ensure accurate filing of all documents that relate to the cases the firm worked on. She is currently a 2L at UCLA School of Law.

Asian American Studies 121: Chinese American History
Rhetoric 152AC: Race and Order in the New Republic
American Studies 139AC: US Social Movements
African American Studies 111: Race, Class, and Gender in the US
American Studies H110: American Studies Honors Seminar
Ethnic Studies 144AC: Interracial Justice at Law

Thesis Patty Chen : - The Racial Implications of Neoliberal Discourse: How the Stereotype of African Americans as Welfare Recipients and Asian Americans as the Model Minority Support Neoliberalism (Class of 2014)

Patty Chen : - The Racial Implications of Neoliberal Discourse: How the Stereotype of African Americans as Welfare Recipients and Asian Americans as the Model Minority Support Neoliberalism (Class of 2014)

In her honors thesis, Patty Chen argues that the presentation of African Americans as poor welfaredependentsand Asian Americans as the successful model minority supports the neoliberal notion that a person’s individual choice is the determining factor in their economic success or failure in America. Patty argues that these two images obscure the reality of racial meaning and the existence of institutionalforces that influence the lives of people of color. This leads to an ineffective discussions concerning how race affects the lives of people of colordiscussions that focus on whether racism exists rather than meaningful ways to bridge the gap in the life experiences of people of color and whites.

Sophia Ng - Twentieth Century American Culture

After graduating, Sophia Ng worked at Kickstarter in New York City as an Integrity Analyst. She also served as a Board Member for the National Asian Pacific American Womens Forum*New York City (NAPAWF*NYC) chapter, where she volunteered her time working on reproductive justice, immigrant rights, and worker advocacy issues. Sophia is currently a Fulbright Teaching Assistant, teaching English at a secondary school in Gopeng, Perak in Malaysia.

Asian American Studies 171: Asian Americans in Film and Video
American Studies 102: The Road in American Culture
History 124B: The United States from World War II to the Vietnam Era
History C139AC: Civil Rights and Social Movements in U.S. History
Ethnic Studies 176: Ethnic Art and Artists
American Studies 2029 (University of Hong Kong): Current Perspectives on the U.S.

Thesis Sophia Ng : - Channels for Change: Sesame Streets Ability to Implement Civil Rights Ideology in Childrens Programming (Class of 2014)

Sophia Ngs honors thesis, Channels for Change: Sesame Streets Ability to Implement Civil Rights Ideology in Childrens Programming, investigates the interplay between television and the civil rights era. Television played an important role to capture and circulate images of war, rebellion, and social change throughout the United States in the 1960s. Her honors thesis asks, how was Americas changing social landscape portrayed on television to the nations most nascent demographic– preschoolers? Sophias thesis explores this question within the context of the childrens program, Sesame Street, a show known for its lovable puppets, educational content, and integrated urban setting. Sesame Street first aired in 1969, a turbulent year when television was dominated by news of the first man on the moon, the Stonewall Riot in New York City, and the beginning of Nixons Vietnamization of Southeast Asia. Juxtaposing these social realities against Sesame Street, a show that welcomed American youth into an inner city utopia, Sophia draws upon examples, such as Jesse Jacksons recitation of I Am Somebody and songs like Bein Green and People In Your Neighborhood, and explores the ways in which Sesame Street sought to normalize values of justice and inclusivity on the small screen.

Mykiyaa Walker-Sanchez - Race, Healthcare, and Urban Communities

After graduating in May 2014, Mykiyaa Walker-Sanchez returned home to her first love, Los Angeles, where she spent the summer volunteering at Residential Care Facilities in urban communities and working with adults with developmental disabilities. With future professional plans to promote positive well being through good health practices in disadvantaged communities of color and to dismantle some of the socioeconomic barriers that disproportionately affect communities of color, Mykiyaa will pursue a career in medicine as an internal medicine physician. She is currently completing a pre-medicine post-baccalaureate program.

Anthropology 115: Introduction to Medical Anthropology
African American Studies 116: Slavery and African American Life before 1865
City and Regional Planning 118AC: The Urban Community
City and Regional Planning 115: Urbanization in Developing Countries
Communication as a Social Force 124: Black Women, Feminism, and the Media
Urban Studies and Planning 104: Ethnic Diversity and the City

Thesis Mykiyaa Walker-Sanchez : - "Closing the Gap: The Institutionalization of Diabetes in America" (Class of 2014)

Mykiyaa Walker-Sanchezs thesis aims to understand the how structural, environmental, and cultural factors put Black women at higher risk of obesity than white women. By looking closely at health outcomes in Los Angeles county, Mykiyaas thesis analyzes how macro level disparities are reproduced and perpetuated at the local level.

Anavictoria Avila - Family, Violence, and Youth Development

After graduation in May 2014, Anavictoria returned to Southern California to provide post-surgery recovery care for her mother. She also worked with several community organizations to develop pilot projects for training Anaheims youth in civic awareness and engagement. With the many policy and political changes occurring in the City of Anaheim, Anavictoria wanted to support her communitys youth throughout summer projects so that their voices and concerns influence current policy discussions. Anavictoria is currently a 2L at Northwestern School of Law, where she hopes to build from the substantive and practical foundation that her American Studies Major provided for serving and advocating for her community.

Anthropology 119: Violence and Human Rights in War and Peace
Legal Studies 155: Government and the Family
Psychology 131: Developmental Psychopathology
Public Health 210B: Adolescent Health
Legal Studies 163: Adolescence, Crime, and Juvenile Justice
Sociology 130AC: Social Inequalities, American Cultures

Thesis Anavictoria Avila : - The Disposables: An Analysis of Street Memorials and their Implications for Youth Gang Violence and Incarceration among Marginalized Black and Latino Youth (Class of 2014)

While national homicide rates are at a record low, socioeconomically disadvantaged Black and Latino youth experience death rates disproportionately, violently, and at ages far too young. Anavictoria Avilas honors thesis centers on literal and figurative premature death among disadvantaged Black and Latino youth through street violence and incarceration. Her research includes the contexts and stories behind makeshift street memorials in East Oakland and East Anaheim, where she conducted field work. She considers how street memorials reflect socio-cultural factors as well as criminal and public policy that manufacture premature death for youth in marginalized communities. Anavictoria argues that the premature death of low-income Black and Latino youth is perpetuated by public policy that neglects to consider the racial, political, and social histories that have predetermined the disadvantaged Black and Brown body as disposable, criminal, and unworthy of consideration in legislative and legal decisions. In response to current intervention methods of cracking down on gangs and crime through mass incarceration, Anavictorias honors thesis concludes with an intervention proposal that focuses on human dignity, family, community, education, and youth empowerment.

Shabnam Banerjee-McFarland - Politics of Cultural Representation

After a series of trial-and-error attempts to start a career in fashion retail and marketing, Shabnam Banerjee-McFarland did a 180 turn and channeled her energy into working with non-profits and learning more about the importance of disseminating change-making policy in all popular culture channels. Since January 2015, she has been working in book marketing with Berrett-Koehler Publishers, a mission-based publishing company in Oakland, CA that publishes books on social justice, conscious capitalism, and self-help in order to “Create a World That Works For All.” Most recently, she is designing an extensive research program to confront the extreme lack of diversity in publishing, in hopes of elevating voices from communities that are underrepresented in the industry. A true SF native through and through, Shabnam continues to fight to maintain the colorful vibrancy of San Francisco & Oakland by writing for her personal blog and the Berrett-Koehler blog.

American Studies 101: The Birth of Consumer Society in the U.S.
American Studies 101: American Culture in the Atomic Age
African American Studies 142AC: Race and American Film
Media Studies 104A: Freedom of Speech and the Press
American Studies 102: Cultures of Place: California Food
History 125A: The History of Black People and Race Relations, 1550-1861

Thesis Shabnam Banerjee-McFarland : - Racial Formations In New York Fashion Week under the Obama Era (Class of 2014)

In an industry that walks the fine line of seemingly shallow aesthetics and class-designated “conspicuous consumption,” Shabnam Banerjee-McFarland’s thesis asks how does the New York Fashion Industry affect the way we see race? New York fashion houses, such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, are arguably some of the most subversive corporate brands in thinking about the politics of beauty, race, and the visual aesthetic due to their constant attempts to steer clear of politics. Shabnam’s thesis deconstructs standards of American beauty, and the ways in which the New York fashion industry cultivates these standards during New York Fashion Week. There is a highly decisive performance that aims to perpetuate white femininity, where whiteness is unmarked and reigns supreme. Subsequently, women of color are routinely compared and contrasted to this paradigm through exoticizing and fetishizing their bodies, ultimately resulting in their erasure. She juxtaposes Vogue’s photo-seriesentitled “Street Style,” or photography captured of those attending the event (fashion bloggers, designers, photographers, journalists, etc) against the meticulously styled models captured on the runway. Representation, as always, matters.