5/06/2020 Ann L. Wagoner

American Studies Yearbook 2020

At the senior reception, each member of the graduating class of 2020 was toasted by a member of the American Studies faculty. Here are their toasts. 

  • Austin Bates
Austin "AJ" Bates

by Prof. Carla Willard

AJ, as we call him, has a skill set as wide as the distance he covers on the football field. A varsity football player from 2016-20, AJ committed over 30 hours a week to both football and many other teams in his role as Athletic Facilities Manager. AJ’s interest in American Studies evolved within critical diversity studies, primarily critical race studies. He is passionate about issues of equity and social justice, and he’s dedicated to helping others find equilibrium and sustainable positions in their environment. This dedication can be seen in a medley of extracurricular projects that AJ has completed in his four years – from Resident Advisor in New College House, to teamwork with other leaders in the Harwood Leadership Seminar, to teaching third-grade students at Thomas Wharton Elementary where, as a TA, AJ focused on helping eight and nine-year olds with reading comprehension and self-reliance. AJ plans to begin his year after college working for a voters-rights organization where he will interface with young citizens and advocate for the power of the individual vote. We send off AJ with inspiration for his passion for service and social justice. Keep on, AJ!!

  • David Brennan
David Brennan

by Prof. Carla Willard

David began wrestling his way through college – literally. Part of the wrestling team of 2015-16 and camp counselor for the Naval Academy SEAL Intensive Wrestling Camp, Dave went on to be the founding member and President of F&M’s MMA. His hands-on talents extend to his passion for the environment. A joint AMS/ENV major, Dave excels in conservation and restoration projects that are crucial for our natural and built environments. He has worked hard with Lancaster County Conservancy (Summer 2017) and with the American Conservation Experience Conservation Corps (2018 and 2019). He envisions a future using his skills to connect the community with environmental projects, including educating citizens on the importance of local parks and gardens where, last year, he worked alongside local residents and organizations such as Santa Cruz Homeless Garden Project. We congratulate Dave in finding his calling. American Studies is proud to be part of his journey. Keep on, Dave!

  • Olivia Browne
Olivia Browne

by Prof. Dennis Deslippe

Olivia stands out to me as the only AMS student to visit me during office hours to discuss anarchism! She was working on her podcast for the senior seminar about an anarchist community in Washington state (called “Home”) and connected this to utopian communities today. Olivia was an excellent preceptor for Professor Kibler in American Studies 100. In particular, she worked diligently with the class when they had to navigate some controversies that overlapped with racial justice protests on campus. She developed  some key strategy sessions outside of class and on the phone as well.  All in all, Olivia was a great adviser and strategist. Beyond the classroom she has been involved on campus with the Squash Aces as a tutor. She has been a fine student and generous mentor to others on campus. She has a bright future ahead of her, and we wish her all the best!

  • Logan Dunn
Logan Dunn

by Prof. Alison Kibler

I got to know Logan in AMS 350 and in “Bodies, Technology and Media.” In AMS 350 he was often involved in spirited debates. Students from that seminar still recall some of the contentious discussions! He was also enthusiastic about the labs in this class--from digital text mining of the College Reporter to trying to identify mysterious objects in the Phillips Museum (it wasn’t a hat, it was a basket to house bees). In “Bodies, Technology and Media,” we often asked students how they were using apps to monitor themselves and then to critique those systems. Logan was willing to share the ways he used his phone to improve his life. He brings his full self to class--ready to debate, work in teams, and talk about his life. Good luck on the next chapter, Logan!

  • Alexa Frey
Alexa Frey
by Prof. Dennis Deslippe
It has been a pleasure to have Alexa in my AMS courses over the past few years, including this semester’s AMS 350.   She has a curious mind, asks great questions, and her enthusiasm has been infectious in class. Where faculty work hard to get students to connect their particular interests to courses, Alexa has readily made such connections. She has taken her affinity for “all things Disney” and turned it into a serious scholarly pursuit. (Her study abroad in Australia is a close second!)  I’m just sorry that the COVID-19 crisis cut short her spring sojourn to Florida, as it has prevented our seniors from being on campus for the end of their senior year.  My thanks to Alexa for many contributions to the AMS Department, and best wishes for the future. 
  • Briahna Jackson
Briahna Jackson

by Prof. Mark Villegas

When Briahna enters a class, she brings a quiet confidence that charges the whole room. She is a lover of knowledge and has deep reverence for reading. She didn’t waste any time in my course “Hip Hop: The Global Politics of Culture”: from the get-go, she approached every article with brilliant ferocity. Whereas most of the class had to gently walk through complex readings on hybridity and authenticity, Briahna got it immediately, effortlessly connecting the literature to abstract political themes. Her final group project on the varied, symbolic usages of guns in hip hop music illustrated her keen ability to make academic epistemologies relevant to the real world. Briahna led her group to craft a project that did not simply check off boxes for the grade, she directed the project to be meaningful and relevant. In the methods course, Briahna studied the history of Black student activism on our campus. I think her infectious love of knowledge drives her faith for a better world; with quiet confidence, I believe Briahna will waste no time to transform it.        

  • Julie Lim
Julie Lim

by Prof. Mark Villegas

Two words come to mind with Julie Lim: joy and wisdom. Every surprise visit to my office, every class discussion, every community program, I can rely on Julie to shine with her signature spark of joy. In such a complex and difficult world, Julie is able to energize our collective nature to choose happiness. I also celebrate Julie’s wisdom. At each class meeting, including in our beloved Small Group Directed Study “Filipino American and Latino Cultural and Political Intersections,” she would raise the most critical questions, which I continue to ponder to this day. In this same class, Julie also proved to be a capable artist in hand crafting a mini barrio, complete with social justice and cultural facilities. Her wise mind has prompted me, as well as other faculty, to stay on top of our game. I believe we all have become better educators because of Julie’s passion for pushing the boundaries of education. She is creative, caring, and able to connect abstract ideas to the lived, micro-level details of our world. The F&M community is currently in transition, and Julie has helped shape it for the better. The world had better get ready for Julie with her formidable joy and wisdom.

  • Angelo Martin
Angelo Martin

by Prof. Carla Willard

Angelo Martin used his AMS major to explore American ethnic and cultural diversity as well as some of the most extreme forms of political expression. His senior project engaged an alt-right group and Prof Kibler writes that “His podcast  included a surprising plot twist; he demonstrated a real gift for storytelling about this serious topic.” Angelo served  on student government and on Weiss House Assembly of Peers. He’s been a mentor and facilitator of F&M’s “College Prep,” working with under-represented high school students – many of them from under-resourced households. He’s volunteered for the Catastrophic Relief Alliance helping to rebuild houses in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. He’s also interned for U. S. Representatives and a PA State D.A. Angelo will put his passions to further work when he attends law school after a year off. He intends to focus on civil rights law in the future, and we know he’s headed for a vibrant and meaningful career. 

  • Zachary Muster
Zachary Muster

by Prof. David Schuyler

Zachary Muster hails from the bustling western Pennsylvania metropolis of Saltsburg (population less than 1,000 residents). Very few of his childhood friends had the resources to pursue higher education, and he is very grateful to the college for the opportunities it has made possible. Zach is also grateful that the American Studies Department has been so supportive of him during his time at the college. He is an excellent athlete, a pitcher on our varsity baseball team, and much regrets that his senior season was cancelled because of the pandemic. He has accepted a job in landscape management with an urban forestry management company based in Lancaster, so I expect that we’ll see him often at college events in the years to come.

  • Maeve O'Brien
Maeve O'Brien

by Prof. Alison Kibler

Maeve produced an outstanding podcast about the Deaf West Theater Company, focusing on its production of Spring Awakening, which was pathbreaking for its casting of deaf actors in some of the roles. She has expanded this into an honors thesis, which she’ll defend in the first week of May. Her research combines detailed textual analysis with a deep contextual framework--of reviews, interviews with actors and producers, milestones in disability rights, and the history of the deaf community. She knows everything there is to know about musical theater--and connects this passion to her course work and to internships promoting theater through digital marketing. We wish her the best in a career related to theater!

  • Ebony Pitts
Ebony Pitts

by Prof. Mark Villegas

At the beginning of each semester, I always ask my students to share their favorite shows or movies. My earliest memory of Ebony is her mentioning her love of the mystery series Criminal Minds, a favorite show of mine as well! In the series, the humble thinkers and intellectuals are the real heroes; brains, not only brawn, crack the case. What a great metaphor for Ebony’s approach to learning; she might appear to be sitting quietly in the periphery, but she is thinking deeply, cracking the case. I would look over at Ebony before class began and she would sometimes display an expression of shrewd defiance. As the class progressed to discussion, her expression would be followed by an amiable smile as she expertly offered laser sharp commentary, always with a touch of levity and truth. I think Ebony’s demeanor really reflected an important challenge: that my lessons be meaningful in her quest for a transformative education. Hers is a brave expectation of all of us to be as sharp and demanding. Congratulations and cheers to Ebony for challenging all of us to be better thinkers and maybe even heroes.

  • Emily Ritchey
Emily Ritchey

by Prof. Alison Kibler

I remember Emily sitting in my office talking about several fascinating possible topics for her podcast research for the Senior Seminar. It was truly a struggle to decide which way to go because all her ideas were intriguing and relevant. Should she compare different urban landscapes and accessibility for the homeless, maybe through an ethnography, or should she study how homeless transgender youth find support, from “ball culture” to homeless shelters? She decided on tracing changing approaches to transgender homelessness and, with meticulous research, produced a riveting podcast. She was also supportive of other students’ podcasts in class, with praise and advice for improvement. Emily is an excellent scholar who thinks BIG and connects her work to social justice in the community. I’ve heard news from AMS 350 that she already has a job in Lancaster as a community organizer. Lancaster is lucky to keep her!

  • Rachel Sheffield
Rachel Sheffield

by Prof. David Schuyler

Rachel Sheffield is an amazing young lady. I worked with her most closely during the summer of 2019, when she was a research scholar. We spent the summer in Archives and Special Collections, Martin Library, and collaborated on a history of the campus, Constructing the Campus: Franklin & Marshall College 1853-2019 (2019). Rachel brought energy, excellent research skills, and a tremendous work ethic to the project. Her contribution was so important that I listed her as a coauthor of the published book. As I wrote in the Acknowledgments, “Working with students like Rachel—intelligent, hard-working, and ready for any challenge—is one of the great privileges of teaching at Franklin & Marshall College.” I am proud of all that Rachel has accomplished while at F&M, and I shall follow her career with great interest in the future. It has been a real joy to have you in my life, Rachel, and I’ll miss you when you have graduated and moved on in life.

  • Sophie Worthy
Sophie Worthy

by Prof. Dennis Deslippe

Congratulations to Sophie Worthy for her stellar work in AMS. It’s been a treat to have her in several of my classes.  Her many contributions helped to strengthen class discussions. She was effective in bringing her study-abroad experience from Denmark into her AMS and WGSS courses. My strongest memory of her independent and clear thinking was in last fall’s “Masculinities” course when, during a debate on fraternities, Sophie took a strong stand against the position of other classmates. What impressed me, in particular, was that she based her stance on the evidence presented despite the unpopularity of her position. I don’t know if her post-graduate plans will take her back to Chapel Hill or to New York--or elsewhere--but I trust that she will keep challenging herself in her intellectual endeavors.

 

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