Graduate Profiles

Kash Kravitz - Postwar American Culture

Following graduation, Kash decided to disregard the five years spent pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree and head back to community college—this time for culinary school. They currently work as a line cook at a fine dining establishment in Oakland and aspire to open a Jew-ish diner restaurant cooperative/queer social space named after their late grandmother Estelle. At their future restaurant, they want to offer free meals to transgender people of color and provide a space for community organizing. Once they get too old to withstand the physical labor of being a chef, Kash plans to teach cooking as a tool for self-empowerment to youth. Or, who knows, maybe they’ll get bored of it all in a few years and further their interest in American food culture by pursing a graduate degree in American Studies.

Rhetoric 131T - Rhetoric of Fiction
American Studies 101 - The Birth of Consumerism
American Studies 101 - New Gilded Age
American Studies 102 - American Themescapes
American Studies C 171 - History of the American Landscape

Thesis The Wolf in Farmer’s Clothing: The Reproduction of White Hierarchal Structures at the Davis Farmers’ Market, 1976-1986

By deconstructing socially formative discourses related to the local food movement from 1976-1986 in Yolo County, Kash’s honors thesis argues that the famed Davis Farmers’ Market came into being as a social institution that maintains white supremacist social order through frameworks of environmentalism and community-togetherness. They dissect documents which pertain to local food in order to articulate how progressive liberal ideologies of local food covertly formulate regressive constructions of race and class typically thought of as belonging to white conservatives. Each chapter contains a series of close readings, either of tomatoes as a source of local identity and political/racial tension, the cultural appropriation of food and construction of all-white community at the Market, or the racialized, class-constitutive rhetoric of freshness. Kash finishes by elaborating how discursive ideas about local food in the decade of study continue to implicate the Davis Farmers’ Market in an enactment of white supremacist social structuring despite a perceived notion of equality, using the political intentionality of West Oakland Farmers’ Market as a foil to exemplify an alternative configuration of a market that fights white supremacist hierarchal structures.

Kevin Ponn - Technology and the American Public

Since graduating , Kevin has had the honor of working for the university as the new Cal Esports Program Manager, the first full-time staff position dedicated to esports. Kevin directly oversees the Cal Esports program and the Cal Esports Community Center, which serves all students at Cal as the home for gaming on campus. In work and life, Kevin is an advocate for the positive role of gaming and esports in our society.

American Studies C172 - History of American Business
Art 178 - Game Design Methods
Information C167 - Virtual Communities/Social Media
American Studies 101 - Birth of Consumerism
American Studies H110 - From SFMOMA to the Ghost Ship: Exploring Bay Area Arts Ecosystems
Info 103 - History of Information

Thesis Esports: Evolution

Esports is a rapidly developing industry and fledgling sport on college campuses in the United States. Kevin’s senior thesis, focused on the rapidly developing industry of esports and its fledgling status as sport on U.S. college campuses, explores how the grassroots gaming movement is translating into the next great American sport. Through an examination of the history of competitive gaming, Kevin’s thesis reveals how several influencers shaped the evolution and founding of the nation’s first Division 1 collegiate Esports program, Cal Esports. The project uses an interdisciplinary approach to understand this complex ecosystem. The economic and business development of video game companies and peripheral organizations are examined, as well as technological changes over the past fifteen years that have led to the expansion and maturation of gaming culture into mainstream American culture. Kevin’s thesis explores how the Cal Esports program and the role of institutions like the University of California, Berkeley play key roles in shaping the future of gaming and its larger impact on American sports culture as a whole by challenging the masculinization of sports in general.

Roya Chagnon - Art, Architecture, Design, and Landscape in America

After graduating with a double major in American Studies and Urban Studies, Roya spent a year working at the Oakland Department of Transportation, redesigning streets and conducting community outreach to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety in Oakland’s most underserved neighborhoods. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Architecture at UCLA, where she is also part of the Urban Humanities certificate program.

Architecture 110AC - The Social and Cultural Basis of Design
Architecture 179 - Special Topics in the History of Architecture
History of Art 110C-31 - Spanish Contemporary Art- University of Barcelona
Theater 173A - Scenography: Scenic Design for the Theatre
Urban Studies 106C-31: Community and City - University of Barcelona
Landscape Architecture C171 - The American Designed Landscape Since 1850

Thesis Cartography of Fear: Environmental Design and Women’s Emotional Geographies

Cartography of Fear: Environmental Design and Women’s Emotional Geographies

Roya’s honors thesis explores how environmental design contributes to gendered differences in the experience and perception of public space. In particular, it analyzes perceptions of safety on and around the urban university campus. Feminist geographers, planners, and historians have frequently described how women’s experiences in the public realm have been restricted as a result of longstanding sociocultural values. Additionally, anxieties about crime have consistently shaped the cultural imagination, and in turn, the built form of urban environments. By collecting and mapping University of California, Berkeley students’ geographies of fear, this study shows that certain types of places are more conducive to fear than others. Furthermore, traditional ideas about what makes spaces feel safe are not always effective for women. Through further analysis of an urban space (Telegraph Avenue) and the campus’s outdoor green spaces, this thesis will demonstrate how unequal geographies of fear are shaped by the intersection of culture and design. It concludes that design that is more conscious of emotional connections to the environment can promote more equitable experiences in the public realm.

Shelby Mack - Race and Education in the U.S.

Following graduation, Shelby Mack was the Post-Baccalaureate Shinnyo-en Fellow for Berkeley’s Public Service Center. As a Shinnyo fellow, she worked as a 6th grade Poetry Teacher and Research Fellow for the African American Female Excellence Program (AAFE) – the first school in the United States to create a Black female enrichment program at West Oakland Middle School. Her service project, “Empowering and Healing Girls of Color through Performing Arts,” incorporated peace building, mindfulness, and sisterhood in teaching girls not only how to identify systemic oppressions, gender violence, and family trauma they face but also how to create healing, gender empowerment, and social change through narrative art. Shelby also participated in the post-baccalaureate research education program at Yale. Beginning Fall 2020, Shelby will pursue a Ph.D. in Performance Studies at Northwestern University.

Education 190AC - Critical Studies in Education
Education 182AC - The Politics of Educational Inequality
Education 140AC - Art of Making Meaning
African American Studies 139 - Selected Topics of African American Social Organization and Institutions
African American Studies 136 - Criminal Justice and the Community
African American Studies 241 - Special Topics in Development Studies of the Diaspora

Thesis #BlackGirlsWillAlwaysMatter: Understanding the Importance of Black Female Enrichment Programs in Oakland, California

In her honors thesis, Shelby used ethnographic methodologies to explore how the first Black female enrichment program, African American Female Excellence Program (AAFE) within Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), offers solutions for healing Black girls’ experiences with dehumanizing school practices (e.g., zero tolerance policies).