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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2016
Peer Advisor Availability

Writing Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tue: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Funding Peer
Stephanie Griffin
Mon: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: noon-2 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Ana Romero

Mon: noon-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.


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Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Levi Maaia and the 'Maker' Culture

Levi MaaiaLevi Maaia. Photo courtesy of Levi MaaiaLevi Maaia, a seventh-year doctoral student in Education, wants to "make" things happen. Levi grew up in East Providence, Rhode Island. He earned a B.S. in Film and Television from Boston University and an M.A. in Journalism from Emerson College.

Levi’s life changed while working at Full Channel, a family-owned broadband provider in Bristol County, R.I. He saw that many of the educational outreach initiatives by cable TV networks were not actually reaching classrooms. New media technologies were evolving faster than educators could integrate them into curricula.

While Levi felt that the link between media and education had always been tenuous at best, he thought there could be a better way to integrate them, and came to UC Santa Barbara to work on his ideas.

While chatting with Levi, I learned all about how the “maker” culture might be the answer, why the maker culture is alive and well in Cuba, and what advice he has for graduate students to get through a doctoral program more efficiently.

You recently went to Cuba as part of an educational research delegation. Tell me a little about what you were doing there and your impressions of Cuba.

Grad lampI am really interested in Cuba’s maker culture. People there have limited resources and have to make do with what’s on hand. You’ll see a lawn mower made from the parts of a washing machine. Another person took a Soviet-era tractor engine and placed it into a ‘57 Chevy. The country is filled with examples of that type of ingenuity. It is an art form unto itself.

What does this have to do with your current research?

I am interested in the emerging maker culture and President Obama’s initiatives to encourage maker education as a way to instigate a new generation of design and manufacturing in America. Specifically, I am looking at what a maker-based high school course looks like and how students and teachers prepare for and interact during such a program.

Can you explain more about the maker culture and what this type of education would look like?

Maker cultures and do-it-yourself movements encourage informal affiliations of people who work on projects out of their garages, basements, and backyards: computer clubs to microbreweries to builders of specialized composting machines and 3-D printers. You come up with an idea that you want to realize and then you find the materials, skills, and community to help you do it.

In the fourth grade, I participated in the Invent America program. There you had to come up with a problem and then design and build a device that solved that problem. I created an automatic fish feeder and came in second place. Another kid came up with the idea of shoes with sole zippers, so you could easily replace the soles.

In K-12, maker-based education is about getting kids thinking about problems and empowering them to build solutions. I’d like to see at least part of the school day break from the traditional structure and let students be free to explore. I want to move away from only replicating expected results and afford students with the opportunity to discover the unexpected.

Puesta del Sol carCubans have created novel and creative ways to keep their “Yank Tanks” running in Havana, despite the lack of access to American auto parts. Cuban culture highly values ingenuity and the maker spirit. Credit: Levi Maaia

Who would you say has been one of your main influences?

I have many, but at the moment I'm really intrigued by Steve Wozniak. He had the ingenious idea to design and to build a computer that was accessible to consumers. In the years prior to his design, computers were only available to people working at huge corporations and institutions. When I was I kid I used an Apple II computer that was designed by "Woz." It was my earliest exposure to electronics and computing.

What advice do you have for incoming grad students?

Find ways to have your work, research, and projects build on one another. I ended up spinning my wheels for a long time. You should think early on about how to create a system or path for yourself. Have your internship lead to your master’s project, which will help you with your dissertation. If you can find a way to plan efficiently, everything can be a building block for the next part.

What do you do enjoy doing when you’re not innovating education?

I enjoy traveling, exploring, and communicating. I like to understand where I am and the landscape and the people around me. Maps, charts, and geography fascinate me. Wherever I go, I try to orient myself. Growing up in the Ocean State, I learned to sail and I enjoy being on or near the ocean.

Levi's students at workLevi’s students designed and built two high-altitude balloons using Arduino microcontrollers and amateur radio transmitters to gather and transmit live environmental data and images from altitudes as high as 111,814 feet. Credit: Levi Maaia

What’s in high rotation on your playlist these days?

The Bird and the Bee, Generationals, Chromeo, and classic Motown music.

Finally, what do you plan to be doing 10 years from now?

Building things. I’d like to be working on projects that build new networks, systems, spaces, and places for educational collaboration, learning, and exploration.


Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Melissa Barthelemy Pays it Forward to UCSB

Melissa portraitMelissa Barthelemy. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyWhen the childhood home of Melissa Barthelemy, a sixth-year graduate student of Public History, burned down in Ojai when she was eight years old, she and her family may have initially thought they only escaped with a few photo albums. But, what they eventually learned was they had gained life lessons in community, compassion, and the generosity of others.

They found an outpouring of community support as neighbors and others offered mattresses, clothing and all sorts of items to help them in their time of need.

Little did Melissa know that, years later, she would use those lessons to pay it forward by first helping UCSB students cope with their trauma in the wake of the Isla Vista Tragedy of May 23, and then by creating a collection of items to remember the victims and document the campus and community response.

I sat down with Melissa Barthelemy to discuss her work with the IV/UCSB Memorial Preservation Project and the upcoming exhibition for which she is serving as project manager and curator, which is titled “We Remember Them: Acts of Love and Compassion in Isla Vista.” The exhibit will be open to the public for viewings from May 20-June 20 in the Red Barn (Old Gym) near the bus circle on campus. (You can find more information about Melissa and the Remembrance Projects she is engaged in at

She was forthcoming about her involvement in the project, her own struggles as a graduate student, and the unique circumstances of her childhood, growing up in the back room of her parents' toy store.

So let’s start with your current work. How did you become involved in the IV/UCSB Memorial Preservation Project?

In the immediate wake of the tragedy my initial concern was how to best support the graduate and undergraduate students at UCSB. I contacted Turi Honegger, Assistant Clinical Director of CAPS (Counseling And Psychological Services), at UCSB. I strongly felt we needed a special crisis training session for the graduate students since it is common for undergraduates to approach their Teaching Assistants before turning to faculty and staff for support and assistance. Turi agreed to help me organize this, and we had many email conversations that lasted until 2 a.m. in the days following the tragedy. A small group of us managed to organize two workshop sessions that were held on Tuesday, May 27 and were attended by over 140 people.

Melissa at MemorialMelissa at the Memorial Wall on the Arbor. Photo courtesy of Melissa Barthelemy

That weekend I also worked closely with community members in Isla Vista to figure out what systems of support were needed there. Some UCSB students told me that they wanted a space in the Arbor that could focus on art and healing and that they thought it was important to have a memorial space on the actual campus. With the support of the Office of Student Life and Associate Dean Katya Armistead we created the Memorial Wall at The Arbor which is a painted wooden structure that is covered in dozens of messages of compassion and solidarity. While working on the space, students asked me, “What’s going to happen to the memorial sites in IV? Will all of the items at the sites be thrown away?”  

So I asked the Interim Director of Special Collections, at the UCSB Library, if they had any plans to form a collection. He said that librarians generally receive items that are donated but don’t go out in the community to collect them, and that I was the first person to approach him about this. He then asked me to convene a committee of librarians, faculty, and students to support the project.

Spontaneous memorialSpontaneous memorial site in IV. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyI was hesitant at first because I was so busy. But I visited the spontaneous memorial sites in Isla Vista to look more closely at what was there. One day, I went to the site in front of Capri Apartments and I saw cards blowing down the street in the wind. I came across a card written by one of the victims' parents and I decided these items really needed to be saved for the benefit of the families, friends, and the wider community. At that moment I decided to take the project on and have never looked back.

Tell me more about the upcoming exhibition “We Remember Them: Acts of Love and Compassion in Isla Vista.” 

The central premise of the exhibit is that each of the individual items left at the spontaneous memorial sites in Isla Vista are representative of the acts of love and compassion that poured out from our community and around the world.

Pained rocksPainted rocks for exhibition. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyWe will be exhibiting some of these items, which include things such as cards, letters, drawings, paintings, origami cranes, and painted rocks. We will also display photographs of the spontaneous and planned memorial events, as well as highlight some of the larger discourses that circulated in the wake of the tragedy and contributed to legislative reforms.

We are striving to create a space for healing and reflection. In the words of one of my colleagues “the exhibit remembers those who died and those who were injured, and it tells the story of a community empowered by its own humanity in reacting to a collective loss.”

What has the response been to your work so far?  When people hear about the premise of the exhibit they are supportive. But until recently we were reluctant to spread the word too much about the exhibit since the campus administration is still coordinating the series of events that will happen around the Remembrance Anniversary.

Have you ever done something like this before? No! I did serve as a volunteer for a museum when I was in law school. But really I’m learning on the fly.

How has this affected your research?

Melissa with Ben FranklinMelissa with Ben Franklin. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyI changed my whole dissertation topic as a result of this project. My focus is now on Public History, which is a branch of History that is largely focused on educating the public about historical issues.

Some public historians primarily teach at universities, others can be found working in a range of locations including archives and library special collections, community history and historic preservation, museum exhibition and historical commemoration.

My dissertation project is still evolving but at least one chapter of it will examine the upcoming exhibit, so we will be having videographers and photographers document what we create in the exhibit site. That way I can integrate Digital Humanities directly into my dissertation by using these digital technologies to discuss my curatorial decisions and aspects of the exhibit. This documentation will also eventually become part of our digital collection at the UCSB Library website.   

Let’s turn to your life now. Aside from this event, what one event has had the biggest impact or influence on you and helped shape who you are today?

Melissa's parentsMelissa's parents dressed for Halloween in front of their toy store. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyMy parents have shaped me the most. From the way I approach life, to my core values and beliefs. My parents have owned a little toy store for 35 years in Ojai and I literally grew up in the back office of their business, which was more of a play room for me. I was surrounded by Slinkies and Silly Putty.

My favorite quote from them is “The only constant in life is change.” They have this quote on a sticker, which they placed on their cash register at their toy store, where they give customers change all day long. They have a real quirky sense of humor.

They always emphasized that you can’t fully anticipate what’s around the next bend. My parents’ house burned down when I was eight years old. All we saved were some photo albums. That was very helpful (and horrible) for my ability to respond when tragedy happens. It made us close and brought us together as a family.

It also taught me about the importance of community since people brought us 10 mattresses for beds, dozens of frying pans and lots of other things we couldn’t use while were temporarily staying in a hotel. The community response wasn’t practical or well-thought out, but it was heartfelt! Moments like this have helped me to always try to see the good in people.

You had a unique childhood, tell me more about it?

I grew up in the mountains of Ojai. My parents owned a house in the Los Padres National Forest that was over 100 years old and our water came from a natural spring on the property. So I had an adventurous outdoor lifestyle from an early age. I had acres and acres to explore, falling in rivers and things like that.

What is the one thing people would be most surprised to know about you?

Usually they are surprised I have done so much independent travel around the world. I have backpacked through Europe several times, and my first trip there was when I was just 17 years old. After I earned my law degree, I spent a month driving from Ojai to British Columbia, all through the Pacific Northwest camping and hiking in the backcountry. I’ve also gone sky diving and underground cave rafting in New Zealand.

You’re very busy. What do you do to relax?

Melissa gardeningMelissa gardening for relaxation. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyI do as much hiking and gardening as I can. My wife and I love camping. We have gone backpacking in the Channel Islands and one of our favorite spots is Kings Canyon National Park up in the Sierra Mountain Range. Basically she tries to take me places where my cell phone does not work.

What is your biggest accomplishment in life and why?  Marrying my wife. My day to day happiness is the most important thing to me. We’ve been married six years, and thankfully we got married one week before Proposition 8 had passed in California, or we wouldn’t have been able to be married all of this time.

Any advice for new graduate students?

Don’t ever feel like you are alone in the challenges you are confronted with. I have had serious physical health disabilities while at UCSB and have benefited tremendously from the Disabled Students Program (DSP). No matter what difficulties you encounter, remember you are part of a larger community that is invested in your success and people are here to help support you.

What is the one thing you hope to be doing 5 or 10 years out of graduate school?

I love teaching, but I also could see myself doing museum management or higher education administration. I am open to working in a range of educational environments. I will be happy as long as I know I am continuing to have a positive impact in the world.


Less Than 15 Minutes of Fame: Kyle Crocco, Graduate Student in the Spotlight

Kyle Crocco, The Thinker, outside the Student Resource Building. "My father was a psychiatrist, which people say explains a lot about my behavior and personality," Kyle says. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

The GradPost’s new Funding Peer, Kyle Crocco, is a man of few words. This Education Ph.D. student thinks lives can be summed up succinctly. So he took our Graduate Student in the Spotlight questions and threw them out the window, so to speak. He categorized and rewrote the questions, then answered them in less than five minutes. He calls this “The Quick Graduate Student Interview.” Here, now, are the fast facts about Kyle Crocco.



Kyle Crocco, age 46

Year in grad school?

Second-year Ph.D.


Education (Writing Studies)

Expected graduation date?

June 2015, if all goes well.

What other degrees do you have?

BA History (Penn State); BA French, MA Foreign Language & Pedagogy (University of Delaware)


Where did you grow up?

Southeastern Pennsylvania near the border of Delaware.

What is the one thing people would find most interesting about your family, childhood, upbringing and/or early education?

My father was a psychiatrist, which people say explains a lot about my behavior and personality.

What is the one thing people would be most surprised to know about you? (Or to put it another way, what is one thing that most people don’t know about you?)

Kyle Crocco performs during an open mic night at Marquee on State Street in downtown Santa Barbara.I write original rock songs, play guitar, sing, and perform at open mics in Santa Barbara.


How would you describe your research in one sentence?

The differences in the use of visual and textual rhetoric when portraying a university's academic identity in their domestic and international viewbooks.


What is the single most important thing you wish you had known before you started grad school?

How to find funding, which may explain why I’m the Funding Peer now.


What is your favorite thing to do to relax? (a hobby, pastime, favorite place to go, favorite thing to do).

Have a good beer or coffee with friends in downtown Santa Barbara.


What is your biggest accomplishment in life and why?

Publishing two humorous fantasy novels in my 20s: “Heroes, Inc.” and “Heroes Wanted.”  Now I realize how difficult that was since I have not been able to publish any novels since that time.

What one event had the biggest impact or influence on you and helped shape who you are today?

Learning the French language changed my career path from writing into academics, opened my eyes to multicultural viewpoints, got me to travel the world, and showed me that you can accomplish anything in life if you work hard enough and are passionate about it.


What is the one thing you hope to be doing five or 10 years out of graduate school?

Being tenured, but still writing, playing, and performing music.

Funding Peer Kyle Crocco thinks people don't want to spend a lot of time reading about other people. Hence, this "Quick Graduate Student Interview." Credit: Patricia Marroquin


Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Writing Peer Advisor Ryan Dippre

Ryan Dippre says that coaches – the athletic kind – have helped shape who he is today. Ryan himself has coached, mentored, and taught students in the art and craft of writing since 2006.

Ryan, a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education with an emphasis in Language, Literacy, and Composition Studies, became a high school English teacher in Milford, Pa., straight out of Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he earned a B.A. in English and a Pennsylvania teaching certificate.

Ryan says he’s “had a lot of license plates,” having lived in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and now California. But the newlywed plans to stay put here for a while as he pursues his Ph.D. and his research into how students develop as writers.

Ryan shares what motivates him; how he relaxes; what he wished he had known before starting grad school; how he helps UCSB grad students as Writing Peer Advisor; and more.

Please tell us about your education.

Ryan DippreI am a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the school of Education. My Ph.D. will be in Teaching and Learning with an emphasis on Literacy, Language, and Composition Studies and an interdisciplinary emphasis in Writing Studies. I am expecting to graduate in June 2015.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in English at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where I also earned my Pennsylvania teaching certificate. I began teaching high school English after graduating in 2006, and I picked up a master’s degree from Wilkes in Educational Development and Strategies in 2010. 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up primarily in northeastern Pennsylvania (born in Scranton), although my family moved around to New York and New Jersey on occasion. My parents moved to New York shortly after I graduated high school, and I moved back into Pennsylvania after I graduated college, so I’ve had a lot of license plates. 

My fiancé, Lindsey, and I were married this past June [2013]. I have been in graduate school at UCSB since 2011, but Lindsey moved out here after completing her MA studies at CU Boulder shortly after the honeymoon. 

Ryan and his wife, Lindsey, on their wedding day in Waverley, Pa., in June 2013.

Are there any events that had a big impact on you and/or helped shape who you are today?

Sports have played an enormous role in my life [he played center on his college’s football team], and I think the coaches that I both played for as a student and worked for as a coach have really shaped who I am. As for specific moments, I think being hired right out of college as a teacher really helped me. Instead of job hunting, I had time to grow as a teacher, which led me to my Master’s degree, some publications, and eventually the decision to go to graduate school.

Please tell us a little about your research and how you came to choose the topic.

I am interested in how students develop as writers in the context of their pasts, their relationships with teachers, and their interactions with other students in the classroom. While I was teaching high school, I saw the highly interconnected nature of writing development, social interaction, and personal history. When I arrived at UCSB, I started kicking around how I could look at the way those elements constituted one another. I started with research on my own commenting practices and worked from there into observations of other teachers’ classrooms.

What do you wish you had known before you started grad school?

I wish someone would have told me about how lonely it can get, especially at first, and even more especially after having taught K-12. I went from interacting with 200 people a day to only a handful of people, and that was a really big difference. I spent a lot of my first year wondering where everybody went. Eventually you adjust, you meet more people, and you end up too busy to think about it, but it was one big change that I did not see coming. Or, rather, one that I did not anticipate would necessarily be negative (I usually began hating my name around mid-April during the school year.  “Mr. Dippre!” “Mr. Dippre!” “Mr. Dippre!”).

What do you like most about grad school and what do you like least?

I really love the freedom that our program has to let us explore what we find most important and most meaningful. I have milestones to reach, of course, but I also have time to explore areas besides my main focus and work on topics that I find interesting. I usually end up finding that these side topics inform the research being used for my milestones. 

What has been a source of motivation or drive for you in your graduate studies?

I’m really motivated by my research topic, so that has been a driving factor for me in my work. I find it fascinating, and I like to look into it any chance I get. I think that has really helped me push my own work along. Also, I enjoy collaborative work with some of the other people in my Writing Studies emphasis, and they’re a lot of fun to work with, so that pushes me as well.

Who are your heroes or mentors and why?

Ryan Dippre (No. 57) played center on Wilkes University's football team in 2005.I have had a lot of mentors over the years. My high school and college coaches really guided me through a lot of challenges, and they helped me understand how to see things through. When I first began teaching, I was assigned a “mentor teacher,” Sue, who really lived up to her title. She helped me navigate the paperwork-laden world of high school teaching, and also helped me think about the bigger picture within which I was teaching. 

What do you do to relax and have fun?

I am a huge football fan, so in the rare amounts of spare time that I get, I enjoy watching, reading about, listening to, or talking about football. If football’s not on, I tend to binge-watch Netflix or read.  I also like to exercise, although right now my diet is so terrible I’m not sure if it’s a hobby or a survival skill.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Whenever I say “my diet starts on Monday,” I’m lying. My closer friends may have already pieced this one together.

What do you hope to be doing five to 10 years out of graduate school?

I hope to be teaching and conducting research at the university level. 

Do you have any advice for current grad students?

Make the most of your time in Santa Barbara. Go to all of the events that you can, both on-campus and off-campus. You want to come away from this time with more than just a degree.

Explain what you do in your role as Writing Peer Advisor. What are your goals as Writing Peer Advisor?

As a writing peer I hold workshops, write about writing for the GradPost, and work one-on-one with students on specific writing assignments. My goal as the Writing Peer is to help students tap into their already-extensive rhetorical knowledge and use it in new ways to accomplish the unique writing goals of graduate school. I also try to help students analyze and, when necessary, alter their writing habits.


Meet Your Graduate Students Association Executive Board 2013-2014 

The Graduate Students Association represents all graduate students at UCSB in committees and helps make decisions about student fees and services. Read on for more about this year's Executive Committee. For more on what the GSA does, see We Love GSA.

Gary Haddow Gary Haddow


Research Focus: Understanding the role of NGOs and education in the reintegration of Liberian refugees.

Program: M.A./Ph.D. in Education


I am from Cupertino, Gilroy, and all over the Bay Area. Following high school I earned a B.A. in Sociology from UCSB in 2008. In 2009, I began my graduate career in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. Over the summer I received my M.A. in Education and have just recently advanced to candidacy. This coming summer will be spent in Liberia conducting my Ph.D. research.

What do you hope to accomplish as GSA President?

My goal this year is to have GSA be more present in the daily lives and academic career of graduate students. We hope to do this through sponsoring workshops and providing resources on funding, grant writing, and building professionalization of students through speaking, writing, and conference presentation workshops. Additionally, it is our goal to not only help facilitate the year-long transition for new graduate students, but also to aid students who are finishing their graduate career and moving on to the next chapter of their lives. Finally, we are still looking at ways to improve graduate student transportation options for the entire year including summer.

As a committee we want to encourage more participation in GSA by becoming a registered departmental organization (if not already) and becoming a GSA representative for your department. Our regular General Assembly meetings are the first Tuesday of every month in the GSA Lounge from 6 to 8 p.m. Come check us out, have some food and refreshments, and learn about what's going on in the graduate community at large.

Amber Rose González

Amber Rose González

VP External Affairs,

Research Focus: Chicana/o cultural studies, Chicana and women of color feminisms, community arts and activism, performance studies

Program: M.A./Ph.D. in Chicana and Chicano Studies with an emphasis in Feminist Studies


I received a B.A. in Ethnic and Women's Studies from Cal Poly Pomona and completed a post-graduate fellowship in California government. I enjoy researching, attending and organizing cultural events and working on my 1970 Volkswagen bug. 

What do you hope to accomplish as a GSA Executive? 

As External VP I will inform graduate students of UC-wide issues and opportunities; represent UCSB grad student concerns at the UC student association; and collaborate with grad orgs, AS and other allies to improve campus climate. I hope to get grads involved in system-wide affairs, events, and legislation. 

Emma LevineEmma Levine

VP Internal Affairs,

Research Focus: American classical music festivals and pedagogy.

Program: M.A./Ph.D. in Musicology


I grew up in Oak Park, California, with my parents and my younger brother. I received my bachelor's degree in music from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2010 with a concentration in piano performance. While at Cal Poly I worked at the campus's children's center and also as a private piano teacher. This is my third year in the music department at UCSB. I have been a teaching assistant for music appreciation, and I am currently a teaching assistant for the music history series.

What do you hope to accomplish as a GSA Executive? 

In addition to serving as a GSA Executive, I am also a student representative for four campus committees. It is my hope to represent my peers, make their needs heard, and ensure a constant flow of communication. Also, it is my goal to make Bagel Hour the highlight of every grad student's work week!

Dusty Hoesly Dusty Hoesly

VP Committees & Planning,

Research Focus: Contemporary American Religions and Secularism

Program: Ph.D. in Religious Studies


I am from Portland, Oregon. In college I studied English, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, and then I became a middle school language arts teacher for four years. At UCSB, I research the worldviews and practices of people who self-identify as non-religious.

What do you hope to accomplish as a GSA Executive Committee member?

I hope to ensure effective and diverse graduate student representation on campus committees and to plan exciting, well-attended events for graduate students throughout the year.

Caitlin Rathe

Caitlin RatheVP Budget & Finance,

Research Focus: 20th century US Policy, focusing on inequality

Program: M.A./Ph.D. in History  


Hey all, I'm from the Seattle area originally and did my undergrad in Econ outside Portland, Oregon. I miss the rain and gray skies! I'm beginning my third year and finally getting the swing of things in history, eventually hoping to go into policy.

What do you hope to accomplish as a GSA Executive Committee member?

I hope to smooth the reimbursement process, make sure GSA is a priority on campus, and keep getting the word out about our grant opportunities!

Marcel Brousseau

VP Academic Affairs,

Research Focus: I examine how cartography, narrative, and infrastructure work together to produce cultural relationships in the U.S./Mexico/Indigenous borderlands.

Program: M.A./Ph.D. Comparative Literature


Marcel BrousseauThis is my sixth year at UCSB. During my time here I have been lucky to study and work in an interdisciplinary capacity in many departments: History, English, Geography, Chicano Studies, and Bren, among others. In the last year and a half, I have seen much of the administrative side of UCSB through my involvement in GSA. Now I am starting to see the light at the end of the grad school tunnel. It has been a privilege to learn so much at and about this university. I plan to stay in academia and pursue a professorial career. What I have experienced here will inspire me to fight for the rights of grad students and all students as well as for the existence of accessible and even revolutionary public education systems.

What do you hope to accomplish as a GSA Executive Committee member?

As always, the mission for me is to proselytize about the industry, rigor, and commitment of graduate students. We remain a hybrid, slightly hidden bloc in the context of university administration; we are both staff and student, mentor and mentee. Without us the University of California could not function; yet we have to fight for our rights as employees and students in a climate that has become increasingly privatized, and compromised by extra-campus corporate interests. As VP of Academic affairs, I hope to be a strong, functional grad liaison to the faculty community. They have declared their commitment to grad students; I want to help them support us in every way possible, across schools and disciplines.

Jaycee Bigham Jaycee Bigham

VP Student Affairs,

Research Focus: Educational experiences of children of immigrants, especially those of ethnic and linguistic minority backgrounds.

Program: Ph.D. in Education


I grew up in a small town outside of Nashville, Tennessee. After completing high school, I attended Indiana University, where I received my B.A. in Anthropology and Spanish with a certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. During my junior year of college, I studied abroad in Lima, Peru. Over the course of the year, I began to realize how many positive experiences I had as a result of my educational pursuits and how others had not been as fortunate as me in navigating the systems that had granted me these opportunities. This led me to pursue an advanced degree in order to work with children of disadvantaged backgrounds, which ultimately led to my entering the M.A./Ph.D. program in Education at UCSB.

What do you hope to accomplish as a GSA Executive Committee member?

As the Vice President of Student Affairs, I hope to assist graduate students with their concerns related to health care and housing issues at UCSB and serve as an advocate on their behalf. 

Ester Trujillo Ester Trujillo

VP Communications and Records,

Research Focus: Ethnic and national identity construction among second-generation Salvadoran college students

Program: M.A./Ph.D. in Chicana and Chicano Studies


I grew up in East Los Angeles and received my Bachelor's degree at UCLA in Chicana and Chicano Studies with a minor in Political Science. I earned my master's degree in Chicana and Chicano Studies at UCSB. I am a Mellon-Mays Fellow and a graduate peer editor for the Union Salvadoreña de Estudiantes Universitarios (USEU) online research journal, Nueva Conciencia. I believe academic research is a privileged platform so I do my best to use it to give visibility to social inequalities and exposing the material conditions that surround a diverse array of US communities. I hope to use my degree to teach at the university level.

What do you hope to accomplish as a GSA Executive Committee member?

I'm actually stepping down from this post at the end of Fall 2013 but have thoroughly enjoyed the post for the past year and a half. As VP of Communications and Records my aim has been to provide transparency by keeping updated records of meetings and decisions made by GSA. In this post and after I step down, I hope to continue to encourage more graduate students to become involved with GSA and to take advantage of the resources available through GSA, especially funding opportunities. 



Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Andrew Henkes Just Says Yes to New Paths and Finds Rewards 

“Some of the most wonderful moments arise from overcoming fear and taking risks.” That’s the philosophy Theater Studies doctoral student Andrew J. Henkes lives by, and it has benefited him greatly.

Taking those risks means saying yes to new and different opportunities and circumstances. A fundamental rule of improvisational performance, Andrew explains, is to say yes. “When performing an exercise in an acting class, we direct students to affirm rather than reject the new directions and details that arise out of creative interactions with their fellow performers.”

But many students, he says, “find it scary to submit to the unexpected and they resist when the scene takes a direction that they are unprepared for. Yet, in embracing the unanticipated prospect, they discover new paths and ideas that can lead them to great results.”

That’s what happened to Andrew, who grew up in the Orange County city of Fullerton, when he left the “safety and familiarity” of the U.S. four times to live abroad: in the United Kingdom (twice); in Ireland; and in China. His reward for taking a risk? “I got to see how other people worked and loved, smiled and fought.”

UCSB doctoral student Andrew Henkes. He will receive his Ph.D. in Theater Studies at the UCSB Graduate Division Commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 16.With these global adventures crossed off his “yes” list, in August 2001 Andrew arrived alone in New York City armed with an undergraduate degree in theater (BA, UC Irvine, Drama, 2009); a few hundred dollars to his name; and the optimistic idea that he could make a living and create art in the Big Apple. Things didn’t go exactly as Andrew had planned, but he didn’t reject the unanticipated opportunities; he said yes and embraced them. He became a disc jockey. He worked as a recruiter. He directed his first musical – even though his training was in non-musical theater. As a Fringe Festival ambassador, he welcomed international theater troupes to Manhattan.

When Andrew developed a passion for teaching, this sixth-generation Southern Californian applied to grad school at UCSB despite signs of a difficult job market. “I took the risk of moving across the country to the sunny but unknown locale of Santa Barbara to become a historian and instructor,” he says.

The risk paid off. Andrew, currently a resident of Hollywood, has had “many more unexpected and joyful opportunities” in his years at UCSB. Here are just a few of them: co-organizer of a UCSB academic conference on modern dance; founder of a support group that serves as a social and academic forum for graduate students in the Medieval Studies doctoral emphasis; a volunteer director for premiere productions of students’ plays; and a first-time volunteer sound designer.

Even Andrew’s faculty advisors said “yes” and supported him when he followed his instincts and shifted his research drastically from his Master’s work on late medieval French theater (MA, UCSB, Dramatic Art, 2009) to his doctoral research on 20th Century gay nightclub history. Andrew's research focuses on performances of glamour and deviance in gay bars and clubs in Los Angeles over the last five decades. His dissertation demonstrates that these spaces are both significant artistic workshops for gay and lesbian cultures as well as catalysts for popular cultural trends in the U.S.

"Don't be afraid to deviate from your plans and follow new paths, and always be extremely busy! It's by being active that you develop a network and find even more opportunities." – Andrew Henkes

Andrew will be among the 455 students participating in Graduate Division’s Commencement ceremony this Sunday, June 16. Before he takes the stage that day to be hooded, we had a chance to interview him. Andrew shares how the skills he developed working in the theater have benefited him professionally; his reasons for shifting his research to recording the history of the Los Angeles gay nightclub scene; why he decided to live abroad; his greatest accomplishments; and more. Read on. …

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Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Mario Galicia Jr.

Mario Galicia Jr.Mario Galicia Jr., son of a San Bernardino demolition company owner, took a wrecking ball to his unproductive past long ago, and is proud of the life he has been building over the years.

For Mario, a 5th-year Ph.D. student in UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, the journey through graduate student life has been all about “creating a family and career while taking some time to become acculturated to a world outside of the surroundings I grew up knowing.”

Those surroundings – the rough Rampart District of Los Angeles where he was born and the Inland Empire city of San Bernardino where he was raised – were populated with youth street gangs, violence, and poor economic conditions.

A self-described “chunky asthmatic kid” in elementary school, Mario endured teasing, bullying, and beatings from other kids as a youngster. But he persevered, excelling in his high school classes. As an honors student in a gang-infested area, Mario felt he had to live a double life just to survive.

Mario could not have envisioned graduate school, let alone a college education of any kind, back in those days. But he says that with the help of a few good friends, the support of a wife who encourages him to pursue his dreams, and his own realization that he wanted more out of life than gang activity and manual labor, he mustered the courage to find himself through education.

Mario with his wife, Maria, and their children, Michelle and Mauricio.Today, Mario has three college degrees under his educational tool belt and is pursuing his fourth. He is president of the Graduate Students Association, and serves as Graduate Division’s Diversity and Outreach Peer Advisor. He has not forgotten those who have helped him on his journey, and gives back now through his work with undergraduates, grad students, and the community.

Mario – married and the father of two children, including a son, Mauricio, who was born just two months ago – took some time out of his busy family and school schedule to speak with the GradPost.

Learn about the pivotal moment when Mario realized education was his best option for a better life; what he wished he had known before starting grad school; the accomplishment he’s most proud of; how his past has influenced his current research; and more. Read on. …

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Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Torrey Trust

In workshops she has conducted, UCSB Education Ph.D. student Torrey Trust talks about the importance of a stellar online presence, or “digital reputation.” Do a “vanity search” of your name, she advises, and see what shows up. If you don’t like what you find, it’s time to clean up that reputation, and in her seminars, Torrey tells you how to do that. But she says there are some things that simply cannot be erased from your digital profile, such as when you’re involved in a world news event. Torrey was thrust into such a situation in 2007.

If you Google “Torrey Trust,” on the first page of the results you’ll find this UC San Diego headline: “Newlywed Alums Aboard Ship That Sinks in Antarctica.” Yes, that was Torrey, who was on a honeymoon cruise with her husband Trevor Takayama when their ship hit an iceberg in the Antarctic. They huddled in a lifeboat in frigid waters for more than four hours before help arrived. Once on dry land in Chile, they were interviewed about their ordeal by Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning America.”

Although Torrey hasn’t made the world news since then, her other activities and accomplishments are no less noteworthy. Among her many talents, Torrey is a surfer, a soccer player, a photographer, a blogger, an author, an environmentalist, and a teacher.

Torrey took some time for an interview with the GradPost. She shares what it’s like to have your father as your teacher; how she came to establish an eco-friendly surfing school; why she wants a particular T-shirt after she earns her Ph.D.; her advice for grad students; and why she’ll never own an ice cream shop.

Diane Sawyer of "Good Morning America" interviews Trevor Takayama and Torrey Trust in 2007.

Since we’re no “Good Morning America,” we can’t promise Torrey this post will land on Page One of a “Torrey Trust” Google search. But it is possible that if we get enough clicks, it could find its way to the front page. To make that a reality, read on and share this with your friends. …

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