Senior Profiles

Christy Carley

Gilly Friedman

Race and Ethnic Studies major, working as a compliance analyst for Goldman Sachs next year

What made you want to major in Race and Ethnic Studies?

I did a program in high school, in Seattle Central District, that was basically an empowerment program for youth of color in Seattle. … It was the first thing that introduced me to the idea of institutionalized racism and white privilege–I had never even heard of those concepts before … so it was very troubling and shocking to me. I was very involved in social justice in other ways but I hadn’t been involved in anti-racism work.

How have your interests evolved since you’ve been here — how has that led to your thesis?

I’ve always been really interested in media–how media shapes and reflects how we think about things, especially how we think about race and so I think what I’m best at in an academic setting is looking critically at media. … My expertise is thinking about how the ‘West’ thinks about the ‘East’–how we construct difference in a global context.

My thesis is looking at two shows, one, most people have heard of “Homeland” which is an American show … Based on an Israeli show “Prisoners of War.”

I’m arguing that both of the shows work to support political agendas in the United States and Israel. In the American context. I argue that they are justifying political agendas on the basis of self-defense–and that they do that in similar ways.

What are your plans for next year?

I applied to like a hundred jobs and didn’t hear back from 99 percent of them, but the one that did call me was Goldman Sachs. … I’m working in their global compliance division–I’ll be an analyst … After the financial crisis there was all this new regulation that came out. … There’s so much regulation that they’ve really had to expand these departments and bring on new people to deal with implementing and understanding it. So basically what compliance analysts do is conduct investigations, both on employees but also clients.

I’m a little bit nervous because I feel like I’m at the peak of my academic career right now… but I also want to do a lot of other things. I’m hoping it’ll be exciting and intellectually stimulating. I’m kind of thinking about ‘will I feel like I’m making a contribution to society? Do I need to be doing that right now?’

I’m really excited to get a whole new skill set and translate this passion and energy into something new.

What advice do you have?

My advice to anyone writing a thesis would be start thinking early about something you care about. Think about the things that make you you. Think about what, in an academic context, relates to that. For me it was a lifelong connection to judaism and then this really strong feeling about American racism and American history.


Sam Grainger Shuba

Rhetoric major, thesis won the Franklin Shirley Award at the Southern States Communication Association’s Theodore Clevenger Undergraduate Conference

What got you interested in studying rhetoric?

I went to [Heather Hayes’] Power Privilege lecture about cultural appropriation and hip hop. I just fell in love with talking about the way that people communicate about things they are interested in–the way that the idea is circulated as opposed to the idea itself.

How did you become interested in Title IX?

To be clear, I’m not speaking as someone who is a survivor of sexual assault. My very close friend came to me with this story for The Pio about how the Title IX process had changed. It had gone from an adversarial model to an investigative model, which means that instead of having to defend what happened to you in front of your attacker and have your attacker cross examine you, a third party investigator would assemble information for the process.

When people, especially people over the age of 40, think of Title IX they think of sports. It’s all about equity and representation in college and high school athletics and admissions. That’s what Title IX used to be about. … But what it’s now known for–post 2011–is campus rape. There’s a reframing that has happened, and I wondered when that happened and why.

How did you go about researching and writing the thesis?

I ended up focusing on Whitman. I was looking up Title IX policies from 2011 to 2016 at Whitman and those don’t exist other places. At other schools … getting access to their old Title IX policies would have been nearly impossible, because schools are being sued right and left about Title IX and about Title IX policy and procedure, so they change them almost every year.

What was your favorite part about writing your thesis?

I submitted to a conference in Austin, TX and it actually won best paper of the conference. I also figured out pretty quickly when I was there that this is a pretty new area of study. Title IX has been heavily written on, but as it was understood pre-2011. … What I’m doing is actually pretty groundbreaking in a way that I didn’t anticipate, which is exciting. I really want to continue to do research in this area and try to get to the bottom of what it is that we could do differently as a society.


Jeremy Nolan

Spanish, Biology double major, recipient of Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award in Mexico

Tell me about your Spanish thesis.

I looked at the aesthetic representation of autism in two Spanish graphic novels called “Maria y Yo” and “Maria Cumple Veinte Años” (In English, “Maria and I” and “Maria Turns Twenty”). And I looked at how they engaged with autism, how they shared this story between a father and his daughter, who has autism, and how this medium of a graphic novel was able to share this story and help teach others about autism, and give the autistic a voice.

Why did you decide to do your thesis on this?

I’ve worked with intellectually and developmentally disabled kids ever since about 2007. I got really engaged with the community here through the buddy program and as an intern through the buddy program. Both of the buddies that I had through the buddy program had autism, and I started to see how they’re just very unique individuals. It got me interested in trying to better understand how you can visually represent a disorder that is on such a wide spectrum.

What did you learn from your thesis?

What I took away from my research was that the medium of a graphic novel really has a lot of potential to help share narratives of people who don’t often have a voice in society or that are just often underrepresented–that’s what stood out to me.

Intellectually disabled individuals are really not incorporated into popular media and it seems like graphic novels could be a way for them to start to change that, because it offers them a way to tell their story visually, verbally and just very cohesively.

Tell me more about the Fulbright award you received for next year.

The ETA (English Teaching Assistant Award) consists of teaching English 25 hours a week in different school settings. I applied specifically to Mexico. And then there’s up to 15 hours a week of a special project. What I’m really interested in doing is designing a program similar to the buddy program we have here–getting individuals in the community that have disabilities connected and interacting with some of the students I might be with or other members of the community.  

It’s been really nice to see within the past year how things have come together. It’s been really gratifying to see how these personal experiences are starting to translate into real world opportunities.


Joel Ponce

Music major, co-creator of the Freedom Songs concert, recipient of the Rabinowitz Award

What inspired you to major in music?

I came in wanting to be a music major but I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it because I didn’t have a very strong background [in music]. Once I learned that that was not a limiting factor … I declared my first year.

[Music is] something that I feel really is able to connect people and connect the community … and create a form of beauty that is connective, something that is relational, something that involves relationships and involves communication.

Where did the idea for Freedom songs come from?

I had the idea for a while. … It was after I discovered the music of Janelle Monáe, who was one of the artists we featured at the program. It was the first time I heard of a popular artist that was doing a lot with politics and doing a lot with social justice. … The original plan was just [to] have a Janelle Monáe concert.

What were your goals for the event, what did you keep in mind?

I knew that it was going to be political–I wanted to use music as a venue for people to have conversations. I wanted there to be music on campus that represented different voices.

I also knew that I wanted it to be community oriented. It was primarily for minority voices and by minority voices but I wanted to get a conversation started started to create that safe space–because now people have a new tool to engage with these topics, and they can engage with the lyrics too and hopefully have some discussions about that.