Fellows | 5 February 2024

Undergraduate Public Fellows Program connects Humanities studies with real-world impact


The Humanities Institute is excited to announce our 2023-2024 cohort of THI Undergraduate Public Fellows. THI’s Public Fellows Program offers a mutually enriching opportunity for students to bring the humanities skills and knowledge they acquire in their university courses to diverse roles at non-profit organizations, museums, cultural institutions, and publishing venues. This year, we are proud to be supporting twelve Undergraduate Public Fellows who are partnering with six organizations, including an exciting new partnership with Lookout Santa Cruz. Our fellows are now part of the ground-breaking Employing Humanities initiative, led by Jasmine Alinder, Dean of Humanities. This initiative provides students experiential learning opportunities to connect their classroom curriculum with hands-on training, including undergraduate research and internships. Students in this program will participate in a new cohort model with sustained mentorship. THI Public Fellows will join other humanities students engaged in experiential learning opportunities to meet regularly with Kylie Rachwalski, the Humanities Division’s Experiential Learning Coordinator, and discuss their goals, professional development, connections with their humanities courses, and other experiences during the program. This new model furthers our commitment to provide students with excellent mentorship and support to bridge their academic studies with real-world applications. 

Our 2023-2024 THI Public Fellows are working with The American Prospect, the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, Open Campus, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Watsonville is in the Heart, and, for the first time this year, Lookout Santa Cruz.

Top row (left to right): Ian Doyle, Serena Ramirez, Jacob Press, Maia Mislang; Second row (left to right): Coury Jones, Eetai Shwartz; Third row (left to right): Sebastian Zamora, Janeth Pérez-Quirke, Sharan Sethi; Bottom row (left to right): Thomas Balmat, Ruby Jung, Liliana Barajas.

Thomas Balmat is working as an Editorial Intern at The American Prospect, a magazine and website that is devoted to promoting informed discourse on public-policy matters from a progressive perspective through a narrative interpretation of complex issues. Balmat is assisting with research, fact-checking, social media, data entry and library services for both the print magazine and the daily website. He is also contributing to written content and helping to generate story ideas. This position builds on his coursework in How to Write Like a Journalist with Professor Jody Biehl, who will continue to serve as Thomas’ faculty mentor. 

Serena Ramirez (Critical Race & Ethnic Studies and Psychology; Politics Minor) is working as a Community Engagement Intern with the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County to support events, including the upcoming Santa Cruz TEDx, manage communications, and assist with Rise Together, an intercultural coalition of local leaders working to advance racial equity.

This year, we are excited to be partnering with Lookout Santa Cruz for the first time. Lookout is a homegrown, digital media site whose fundamental mission is to serve Santa Cruz county with a high standard of news, information and community engagement. Ruby Jung (Literature) is serving as an Editorial Fellow in Audience Engagement, learning the art of digital storytelling by assisting with social media and audience development, curating newsletters, creating data visualizations, and interacting with readers online. Eetai Shwartz (History and Philosophy) is serving as Educational Programs Assistant, helping to research, create, implement, communicate and iterate lesson plans, class visits and resources for teachers and professors across the county who use Lookout Santa Cruz in their classrooms.

Liliana Barajas (Literature and Anthropology) is working as an Editorial Assistant at Open Campus, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to investigating and elevating reporting on higher education across the country. Barjas is assisting in managing correspondence and communication from people who are incarcerated, including transcribing submissions to the College Inside newsletter from incarcerated writers.

Two students are working with the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. Sebastian Zamora (History) is serving as Assistant Archives Coordinator, assisting with creating educational activities and programs related to the MAH Archival LGBTQ / Diversity Center Collections including a walking tour of historic places and lesson plans using archival materials and the online catalog. Coury Jones (History) is serving as Assistant Education Coordinator, helping to develop and lead school tours and educational events at the museum.

Five students are working with Watsonville is in the Heart, a community-driven public history initiative to preserve and uplift stories of Filipinx migration and labor in the city of Watsonville and greater Pajaro Valley. Ian Doyle (History), Maia Mislang (History), Janeth Pérez-Quirke (Literature and Education), Jacob Press (History), and Sharan Sethi (Literature and History) are serving as Curatorial Research Assistants, conducting research in the WIITH Digital Archive, analyzing oral history interviews, coordinating events, and assisting in the development of in-gallery exhibitions.

We can’t wait to see our 2023-2024 THI Undergraduate Public Fellows further develop professional skills and bring their insights and creativity to these organizations, while building meaningful relationships with their collaborators. We are also eager to see them grow closer to and support one another through the new cohort model. Supporting students to actualize their critical thinking skills in real-world work environments is one way The Humanities Institute and the Humanities Division are championing the role and value of the Humanities in contemporary life.

See the full list of THI Undergraduate Public Fellows below and check our website for student profiles in the months ahead. A list of all THI Fellows is available here.

Congratulations to our new fellows!

THI 2023-2024 Undergraduate Public Fellows

The American Prospect
Thomas Balmat (Anthropology and Literature)

The Community Foundation Santa Cruz County
Serena Ramirez (Critical Race & Ethnic Studies and Psychology; Politics Minor)

Lookout Santa Cruz
Ruby Jung (Literature)
Eetai Shwartz (History and Philosophy)

Open Campus
Liliana Barajas (Literature and Anthropology)

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
Coury Jones (History)
Sebastian Zamora (History)

Watsonville Is In The Heart
Ian Doyle (History), Curatorial Research Assistant
Maia Mislang (History), Curatorial Research Assistant
Janeth Pérez-Quirke (Literature and Education), Curatorial Research Assistant
Jacob Press (History), Curatorial Research Assistant
Sharan Sethi (Literature and History), Curatorial Research Assistant

THI’s 2023-2024 Undergraduate Public Fellowships are generously supported by the Helen and Will Webster Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Learning Aligned Employment Program (LAEP), and additional private donors to The Humanities Institute.

Banner Image: Humanities students engaged in experiential learning opportunities gather at the first Employing Humanities initiative meeting and hear advice from former THI Public Fellows and UCSC alumni Rebecca Snyder (far left) and Lo Klauer (second from left).