Graduate Profiles

MG Bertrand - Migration and Language

Since graduating, MG has taught at two elementary schools in East Oakland: Bridges Academy at Melrose and St. Elizabeth Elementary School. He is dedicated to student voice. At Bridges, he created and oversaw the student council, supporting representatives in planning school-wide initiatives and communicating with leadership. To empower 3rd-5th grade students to pursue their college goals, he designed and co-coordinated college and leadership assemblies. The presenters included Liliana Iglesias, Director of UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Students Program, and Dr. César Cruz, co-founder of Homies Empowerment. As a first grade teacher at St. Elizabeth, he has led parent-teacher conferences in Spanish and English, as well as facilitated meetings and district workshops about best practices with the help of veteran teachers. On a daily basis, MG works to create opportunities in his classroom for peer collaboration, student agency, and accelerated academic growth. Nothing can replace the relationships he has had on a first-name basis with the 440+ students at Bridges. With these experiences, he is looking forward to pursuing a Master’s degree.

American Studies 102 - Hands on the Vines: The California Wine Industry
Chicano Studies 159 - Mexican Immigration
Education 188 - Latinas/os and Education: Critical Issues and Perspectives
Ethnic Studies 136 - Immigrant Women
German C109 - Language & Power
Legal Studies 132AC - Immigration and Citizenship
Ethnic Studies 101A - Social Science Methods in Ethnic Studies





Thesis Children of the Vines: Language and Power in the Napa Valley’s Dual Immersion Schools

Through interviews with school administrators and teachers, demographic data, and the language of federal education grants, MG’s honors thesis presents a case study that centers on two dual immersion elementary-level public schools, highlighting the treatment of the non-English language, and the accompanying conceptual framework. Offering additional, differentiated resources for greater educational equity is a challenge for communities shaped by imbalances of power. The presence of students and families from often polarized linguistic, ethnic/racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds creates competing needs, leading to situations that can compromise the needs of students who speak the non-dominant language. Given the shortage of bilingual teachers in California, dual immersion schools, faced with choices between international teachers and U.S.-based teachers, make decisions reflecting distinct values and perceptions of language and culture. In the Napa Valley, a rural community with an economy heavily based on the wine industry, there are a significant number of students of Spanish-speaking homes and heritage. As part of an ongoing demographic shift, these students, with the capacity to develop biliteracy and bilingualism, have specific pedagogical, linguistic, and cultural needs. To achieve equity in a Spanish/English dual immersion school, it is not enough to add Spanish to the school curriculum and hire teachers who speak Spanish. The Spanish language is not neutral and generic. Engagement between the school, the students, and the parents depends on communication in the language of the home. Equity depends on teachers and administrators being willing and committed to providing the cultural and linguistic space for students to develop their identities. The students’ abilities to connect with themselves, their families, and their cultural worlds are at stake.

Vanessa Padilla - Urban Communities and Education

The summer after graduation Vanessa immersed herself in French language and culture while living in Paris. On her return to the states, Vanessa continues to intern for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, serving constituents in San Francisco. Vanessa plans to pursue a degree in environmental law, so that she can advocate for people who face environmental crises like those she addressed in her senior thesis.

African American Studies C133: Race, Identity, and Culture in Urban Schools
Chicano Studies 159 : Mexican Immigration
Chicano Studies 172: Chicanos and the Educational System
Education 140AC: Literacy: Individual and Societal Development
Education 190: Critical Studies in Education
Sociology 130AC: Social Inequalities: American Cultures

Thesis Vanessa Padilla : - "A Tale of Two Cities: Richmond, California and Flint, Michigan" (Class of 2016)

Vanessa Padillas senior thesis borrows themes from Charles Dickenss timeless novel, A Tale of Two Cities, to understand the disproportionate environmental burdens carries by communities of color in Richmond, California and Flint, Michigan. Focusing on the water crisis in Flint and the toxic air pollution in Richmond, Vanessas comparative interdisciplinary thesis unpacks the history of each crisis against a backdrop of scientific data, media representation, political rhetoric, and private corruption.

Sha Quasha Morgan - Race, Culture, and Health

Because she is passionate about being a model for success for students that come from the same background, Sha Quasha will pursue counseling for low income, first generation college students. Following summer, Sha Quasha hopes to work either as a College and Career Counselor in the Oakland Unified School District or as an Academic Advisor within the community college system.Subsequently, she plans to pursue a Masters in Social Work with an emphasis on either Child and Family Welfare or Community Mental Health. Sha Quashas ultimate goal is to provide more awareness to her community about the mental health issues that adversely affect them and necessary support.

African American Studies 111: Race, Class, and Gender in the United States
Public Health C155: Sociology of Health and Medicine
Psychology 166AC: Cultural Psychology
Sociology 110: Organizations and Social Institutions
Sociology 131AC: Race and Ethnic Relations: U.S. American Cultures
Social Welfare 110: Social Work as a Profession

Thesis Sha Quasha Morgan : - "I Can Do Bad All by Myself: Stigma of Mental Illness, Power, Pedagogy, Black Masculinity and America's Healthcare System" (Class of 2016)

Sha Quashas senior thesis explores the significant and misunderstood relationship between power, health and race. Focusing on the complex constructions of Black masculinity and its interactions with history, language, and media representation, she unpacks how particular social identities must navigate society and health care, specifically whether or now and how to pursue mental health care. Sha Quasha demonstrates how discursive practices are used to create and perpetuate racialized mental health disparities, and argues that Black mens reluctance to seek mental health care is not simply a matter of individual choice, but their decisions are largely shaped by external forces.

Kelly Naze - American Consumer Society

After graduating with honors and ending a lifelong swimming career, Kelly returned home to Denver, Colorado, where she will put her competitive spirit and passion for planning to work as she starts her own business as a wedding planner.

American Studies 101: The Birth of Consumerism
American Studies H110: Rebels and Revolutionaries
Demography C126: Social Consequences of Population Dynamics
Information C167: Virtual Communities/Social Media
Sociology 160: Sociology of Culture
Sociology 166: Society & Technology

Thesis Kelly Naze : - Amusing Some of the Million at Muse Mcanique: The Unpromising Fate of Penny-Arcade Museums in the 21st Century (Class of 2016)

Exploring how Muse Mcanique, a penny-arcade museum in San Francisco, embodies aspects of Coney Island at the turn of the 20th century, Kelly Nazes senior honors thesis unpacks the cultural fascination with machines, the mystery of objects that re-imagine turn-of-the-century pleasure parks, and the deleterious effects of contemporary consumerism on such mechanical memories.

Daniel Acree - Gender and American Popular Culture

As a graduating Student Veteran still attached to the U.S. Army Reserves, Staff Sergeant Acree continues his personal mission to provide his comrades, as well as all others, with improved life chances by advocating for higher education. Daniel is pursuing a single-subject teaching credential with a Masters in Education at the University of California, Davis. He would like to be a lifelong thinker, joker, educator, and organizer. Daniel and his partner, Alayna Fredricks, enjoy their happy little life and home in sunny wherever-the-road-leads, California.

African American Studies 142AC: Race and American Film
American Studies 101: The Short American Century: From World War II to the New Frontier, 1942-1963
American Studies H110: Rebels and Revolutionaries
Education 183: High School, The Movie
Gender and Women's Studies 100AC: Women in American Culture
Peace and Conflict Studies 127: Human Rights and Global Politics

Thesis Daniel Acree : - "Cinematic American Tough: Evolution Of Inclusion From The Cold War To The Millennial Era" (Class of 2016)

Hollywood movies are like blueprints that show the construction of the American character. In his thesis, Daniel uses an interdisciplinary approach to motion pictures and traces the evolution of cinematic American tough, from the Cold War era (1945-1991) of exclusion, to the present day (2016) of growing inclusion. He continues the scholarly argument that some movies can be, and have been, used to build togetherness, equity, empathy, altruism, and inclusion of American tough amongst the ever expanding globalized Communitas. However, as Daniels research into Hollywoods cinematic American tough images, meanings and representations progressed, he discovered that more popular and mass produced films, especially during the Cold War era, were used to (1) create, promulgate and reinforce socially constructed ideologies of patriarchy, misogyny, racism, ageism, homophobia, xenophobia, and bigotry, (2) define, regulate and make American masculinity exclusive to white heterosexual males, and (3) manufacture generations of primed Americans nostalgic for a whiter America.

Alec Kassin - Policy, Politics, and Sport in the U.S.

Alec, the Departmental Citation recipient for 2016, graduated with Highest Honors after a longer-than-expected college career, marked by a high of spending a year studying abroad in France, and a low of taking a year off from Berkeley due to a back injury. In the summer after his graduation, he plans to work as a camp counselor for an American-style summer camp in Japan, helping Japanese youth learn English by participating in American sports. In October, he will begin work in LinkedIn’s Business Leadership Program, rotating through multiple sales units before taking on a full-time role in their Global Sales Organization. Though his long-term plans are unclear (they may consist of a return to academia to earn a Master’s in Public Policy, a run for political office, or both), Alecs ultimate goal is to have a career through which he can find fulfillment helping others. Right now, Alec is engrossed in learning about the causes, effects, and possible solutions to widening inequality in American society.

Business Administration 196: Sports Marketing
Education 290B: Education in Language, Literacy, and Culture
History 124B: The United States from World War II to the Vietnam Era
Political Science 103: Congress
Political Science 106A: American Politics: Campaign Strategy - Media
Public Policy C103: Wealth and Poverty

Thesis Alec Kassin : - "Caught Stealing: The Major League Baseball Players Association A Union for the Few at the Expense of the Many" (Class of 2016)

With $3.5 billion to divide between roughly 1,200 baseball players each year, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is described by members and scholars as the most powerful union in the country. When the then-ineffective MLBPA was founded in 1953, private sector unionization was at its zenith. Today, the MLBPA is at the height of its power at a time when private sector unionization has hit a nadir, with a mere 6.6% of Americans unionized, down from a peak of 35% in the 1950s. In this context it can be tempting to regard the MLBPA as a formidable outlier that has successfully bucked the trend of deunionization, but the reality is far less uplifting. To achieve success, the MLBPA has actually repressed low-level workers within the same industry, thereby creating a microcosm of our current era the New Gilded Age, defined by a growing divide between rich and poor in professional baseball. This repression has come in the form of restricting minor league player rights and is exemplified by the unions actions during the 1994-1995 player strike, the rollback of baseballs antitrust exemption, and changes to the format of the amateur draft. At the same time, a shift from policies that benefit the largest number of players to ones that favor superstars has resulted in rampant individualism within the baseball world and has perhaps been to the detriment of the well-being of the union. Alec Kassin's senior honors thesis illustrates how a large concentration of labor power shared only by a few select workers within an industry can be just as problematic for lower level worker rights as a large concentration of corporate power.