Graduate Profiles

Jose Solorzano Zavala - Media and Technology in Postwar America

Shortly after graduating, Jose established a brick and mortar location for his wholesale branded-merchandise and professional services business, Kustom Life Company. He and his team consult, design, manufacture, and fulfill branded products for small to large sized companies throughout the United States. As Chief Executive Officer, Jose provides financial, operational and strategic direction for the company and directly manages several on-site and remote employees.

UGBA 160 -- Consumer Behavior
American Studies C172-- The History of American Business
Chicano Studies 135B -- Latino Narrative Film Since 19990
Sociology 166 - Society and Technology
UGBA 164 - Marketing Strategy
UGBA 106 - Marketing

Thesis Tech versus Toys: Analyzing the Effects of Technology on American Consumer Behavior through the 2018 Bankruptcy Case of Toys “R” Us

Jose’s thesis analyzes the cognitive and behavioral effects that modern technology has induced on consumers and their impact on the American retail landscape. The paper dissects the bankruptcy case of the children’s superstore Toys R Us, examines the firm’s repercussions from failure to invest in digital growth, and reasons that technological integration is necessary for a viable business model.

Jessie McConville - Business Communications and Technology

While completing her senior year in 2020, Jessie accepted a professional internship with Disney to work in Corporate Alliances in Orlando. The internship was canceled due to COVID, so she moved back home to San Diego and started working for a local tech/biotech company. She has been at for over a year as the Associate Director of Marketing. She is grateful for her time at Berkeley, loves her current job, and likes to spend her free time playing sports, making art, and fostering dogs.

Psychology 150 – Psychology of Personality
Economics 119 – Psychology and Economics
Sociology 167 – Virtual Communities
UGBA 190D – Innovation and Design
Business 106 (Study Abroad) --Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship
Philosophy 109 (Study Abroad) – Media and Technology

Thesis Corporate Nostalgia and Futurism: Reinforcing Gendered Design of Technology in Disney’s Corporate Showcase

In the post-World War II period, specifically from 1954 to 1964, Americans found a new era of abundance and luxury. This time of transition included many contradictions as the middle-class became economically prosperous, yet minority groups continued to be excluded due to race or gender. Jessie’s honors thesis outlined existing research and ideologies of this time period in order to present an in-depth analysis of Disneyland’s Corporate Showcase in Tomorrowland. This analysis demonstrated how the sponsored exhibits in Disneyland used both nostalgia and futurism to communicate narratives about Americans’ expected roles in society and their relationship with designed objects. Corporate communication reinforced the gender ideologies and social expectations by promoting domestic objects for women and innovative technologies for men. Companies positioned their futuristic products within nostalgic themes of the past, rather than pushing the boundaries for the social equality of tomorrow.


Charis Hanshaw - Health, Wellness, and Aging in America

Charis Hanshaw has over 30 years of professional experience in operations management, research, and marketing and communications with private organizations that range in size from boutique marketing consultancies to international research corporations. As an effective problem-solver and caring advocate, Charis returned to higher education later in life for the specific professional development that would facilitate an intentional shift toward work in aging services.

In May 2020 amid the growing global pandemic, Charis completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from U.C. Berkeley, an interdisciplinary program with a dual concentration in Sociology and Psychology. In August 2021, Charis completed a Master of Nonprofit Administration degree from the University of San Francisco. Charis currently serves on the Communications Committees for Berkeley Ballet Theater and Ashby Village while exploring new career opportunities in aging services. Charis is committed to applying her comprehensive leadership experience and nonprofit management competencies to mission-driven organizations that promote healthy aging policies and initiatives, empower older adults, and enhance the quality of life particularly for those aging alone and near the end of life.

Sociology 148 – Social Policy
Psychology C126 – Science of Happiness
Public Health 116 – Social, Political, Ethical Issues – Health and Medicine
Public Health 129 - Aging Human Brain
Sociology 139H - Selected Topics in Social Inequality: Health & Wealth
Public Policy 101 – Introduction to Policy Analysis

Thesis Death Doulas: Remaking the American Way of Death

Charis’s senior thesis research examines the cultural value of caregiving support provided to dying persons by death doulas in America. A brief history summarizes the ways in which prevailing attitudes and practical experiences with death in the United States have broadly changed since the nineteenth century. The youth-obsessed and death-denying culture that has evolved alongside treatment-focused medical advances is discussed, as well as the implications. The death doula has reemerged in America to fill the intimately personal spaces that medicine has largely avoided and institutionalized hospice care is no longer able to deliver. It is within this context that the death doula caregiving approach is studied. Using a case study framework, the first and longest running death doula educational program in the United States is analyzed. A summary of the complimentary death positive movement and the positive cultural impact that death midwifery has the potential to incite rounds out the analysis. The contemporary resurgence of compassionate care for those facing the end of life, with the support of the growing death positive movement, is reinvigorating displaced cultural practices that help dying people retain (or regain) their personhood at arguably the most important time in life: the culmination of living. Death doula care at the end of life has persisted over time both despite and because of structural and cultural barriers. Death doulas contribute meaningful work to our modern society – work that is needed now more than ever to help the dying achieve a good death.

Dmitry Schultz - Politics and Culture of Law Enforcement in the United States

After graduating in December of 2020, Dmitry started working in health equity and disaster management. During the height of the vaccination efforts across the nation, he was an Emergency Management Specialist at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he helped facilitate the deployment of mobile units to conduct vaccinations in historically underserved communities. Taking the lessons learned from FEMA and UC Berkeley, Dmitry started a new opportunity with the San Mateo County Emergency Medical Services Agency. Working as a Health Emergency Preparedness Analyst, he develops disaster readiness programs, writes disaster response and recovery plans, and responds to disasters in the County. He currently resides in Berkeley and loves to run around the East Bay, take his dog for long walks and play sessions at Point Isabella, and enjoy frequent excursions around the Bay Area.

History C139C - Civil Rights and Social Movements in U.S. History
African American Studies 136L – Criminal Justice and Surveillance in the U.S.
Ethnic Studies 144AC –Racism and U.S. Law: Historical Treatment of Peoples of Color
History 100AC – History of American Capitalism
Legal Studies 190 – Policing and Mass Incarceration
American Studies 102 – Oakland

Thesis Police Unions and Facial Recognition Prohibitions: Examination of Police Reform Challenges in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed after Minneapolis police officers pinned him to the ground for more than eight minutes. In light of his death and the previous high profile shootings of unarmed Black men by police officers, numerous police reform calls emerged. Dmitry’s honors thesis analyzes two of those calls within the broader history of police reform: defunding the police and curbing the scope of the surveillance state by regulating the deployment of facial recognition technology. First, the honors thesis examines how and why police unions became one of the major obstacles to defunding the police and holding officers accountable. Moreover, Dmitry provides a case study analyzing a neglected mechanism police unions deploy to undermine police accountability. Secondly, the thesis examines ineffective attempts to regulate facial recognition use by law enforcement as a result of neoliberal politics and the structural shifts in law enforcement that started to emerge in the 1960s. When posed as police reforms, these bans undermine public safety, particularly those of minority communities, and the legitimacy and trust of police.

Lauren Roper - Race and American Media

After graduating with honors, Lauren returned to her hometown of Los Angeles, California. She currently works in Global Communications at Belkin International, a consumer tech company, where she is heads-down in the world of PR. Outside of work, she puts her minor in Creative Writing to good use by writing prose and poetry on the angst of being a young twenty-something and other random thoughts and feelings. She hopes to one day compile her writing into a published work, which she will dedicate to Professor Palmer.

African American Studies 142AC – Race and Film
Sociology C167 – Virtual Communications/Social Media
Sociology 160 – Sociology of Culture
Film 140 – Images of Labor: Work, Film, Media and Resistance
English 166 – Harlem Renaissance
History 125A - African American History, 1550-1861

Thesis No Rhythm, No Blues: New Age Blackface and the Digital Minstrel Show Stage

Lauren’s American Studies honors thesis explores the racialized undertones of the 21st century digital media landscape. It first traces the parallels to Jim Crow era blackface, then employs scholarly discourse to further the conversation of cultural appropriation within digital forums and platforms. Using case studies of prominent public figures and viral Internet content, the thesis limns the harm of the separation of Black creators from their content, their consequent erasure, and the underlying systemic racism that upholds this process.

Andrew Garcia - Diversity and the American Education System

After completing his undergraduate studies, Andrew returned to Berkeley to earn a Master’s in the Cultural Studies of Sport in Education program from the Graduate School of Education in August 2021. His capstone project focused on leveraging sport as an influential arena of activism to advance dialogue around environmental change. His project offered a potential implementation at the intersection of sport and the environment through the Players for the Planet Ambassador Program, initiated by Major League Baseball. The program provides a positive example of helping to develop a critical ecoliteracy to promote the knowledge and initiative to achieve global sustainability.

After serving as a Graduate Tutor and as an Interim Academic Advisor at Berkeley’s Athletic Study Center, Andrew joined the UCLA Athletics Department as Learning Specialist for Academic & Student Services in September 2021. Working with student-athletes, he supports the unique needs of each student-athlete by encouraging them to explore, implement, and maximize their academic and personal skills, interests, and opportunities.

Sociology 117 - Sport As a Social Institution
Sociology C167 - Virtual Communities/Social Media
African American Studies 142AC - Race and Film
American Studies 101AC: World War II
History 136A- The History of Women in the United States before 1900
Education 257- Theoretical Foundations for the Cultural Study of Sport in Education=
Sociology 169C – Cross Cultural Communications

Thesis A White Man’s Game: Inside the Fight to Save Baseball’s Lost Black Souls

A White Man’s Game: Inside the Fight to Save Baseball’s Lost Black Souls

Andrew’s American Studies honors thesis explored some of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) struggles to separate itself from its racially complicated, troubled past, with a particular interest in how the ingrained conservative, traditional “American” roots within the “national pastime” serve as a cultural barrier that discourages African American participation and consequently divides both its players and its fans. Drawing upon data collected by the Society for American Baseball the paper traces the decline of Black participation in MLB. First, the project analyzes the history of professional organized baseball, from its origins as a “white man’s game” during the 1860’s to the lasting effects of Andrew “Rube” Foster’s groundbreaking organization of the Negro National League, and delves into the intersection of politics and sports through Howard Bryant’s The Heritage. Second, this paper explores late twentieth-century marketing efforts by MLB to counter baseball’s historically racially “coded language,” while at the same time MLB actively discredited its Black players. Finally, the paper concludes by limning twenty-first century systematic barriers that continue to dissuade Black athletes from playing the sport, revisits the infamous “March on 245” event, and builds on Howard Bryant’s The Heritage (2018) to consider the impact on MLB should these trends continue.