News | 20 June 2023

Recognizing excellence in Humanities award ceremonies

By Dan White



Meleia Simon-Reynolds was one of the distinguished students who received Departmental Graduate Awards in History.

This month, UC Santa Cruz’s Humanities Division once again marked the end of the school year with their Spring Awards and Graduate Student Awards, in ceremonies that celebrated the achievements of students, instructors, and alumni. 

“The power of the humanities comes from transforming life for the better by creating informed, empathetic and engaged members of the community and our world,” said UCSC Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer during the Spring Awards ceremony, which was held outside in the redwoods of the UCSC campus. 

“To sustain our democracy, we must be able to imagine each other as we do ourselves because democracy is built on respect for others,” Kletzer said. “We must be able to see the global in all issues, and the humanities position us to do that.”


The Graduate Student Awards ceremony was a time to celebrate with friends and colleagues.

UCSC Humanities Dean Jasmine Alinder introduced this year’s Distinguished Humanities Undergraduate Alumni Award honoree Helen Tran, (Rachel Carson, ‘04, American Studies), the first Asian American elected in the city of San Bernardino and the first Vietnamese-American mayor in the U.S. 

Tran, who addressed the crowd with a prerecorded video message, is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees. She became the first person in her family to graduate from college. 

“When I graduated, my thought at the time was to become a third-grade teacher, but my life, education, and experience have all prepared me for a different purpose in my career,” said Tran, who attributed much of her success to her UCSC mentor Judy Yung, a beloved professor of Asian American history who died in 2020 at age 74.

Yung encouraged Tran to write a detailed oral history about her parents’ decision to flee Vietnam and their perilous journey out of the country. “I ended up being mayor in the city that gave my family and me an opportunity to pursue the American dream,” Tran said. 

Alinder also announced the winners of the Humanities Dean’s Excellence Awards, which support student success in and out of the classroom. These awards go to students with financial needs who have demonstrated strong scholarship in support of the humanities.

This year’s awardees were Kelli K. Chinn (Oakes, ‘23, CRES), a first-generation transfer student, and Adria Vidales (Oakes, ‘23, CRES and Environmental Studies).

The recipient of the Sol and Esther Draznin Memorial Scholarship in Classical Studies is Jean Luke Shedid (Kresge, ‘25, Classical Studies and Applied Linguistics).

Other honorees:  Ben Goldstein (Porter, ‘23, Film & Digital Media and Literature) received the David A. Kadish Humanities Scholarship.

Rachel Vanross (Oakes, ‘23, History) and Rachel Kedem (Crown, ‘24, Literature) received the Mollie Cass Sater Memorial Award. 

Angelo Claure (Oakes, ‘23, Philosophy)  received the Dr. Raihan Kadri Memorial Scholarship.  

Starr Mitchell (Kresge, ‘23, History and Literature) received the Siobhan O’Neill Memorial Scholarship. 

Millie Montoya (Porter, ‘23, Feminist Studies and Psychology) received the Bettina Aptheker Award for Research on Sexual, Gendered, and Racial Violence.

Dakeya Sampson (Rachel Carson, ‘23, Literature and Anthropology) received the Idstrom Family Prize For Creative Writing.

Pamela Williams (Oakes, ‘23, Literature)  received the Kenneth Andrew Gram Memorial Scholarship.

Gabriella Anger (Kresge, ‘23, Literature) received the Jay Family Humanities Scholarship. 

Eleven students received Dean’s Awards, and three of them also received Chancellor’s Awards. 

The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz (THI) recognized 13 undergraduate students who were selected as THI Public Fellows and 10 undergraduate students who received THI Research Awards. 

During the ceremony, Alinder called attention to the breadth of knowledge and achievement of this year’s honorees. 

In the Humanities at UC Santa Cruz, you see thinkers and doers reimagining the world and fully engaged in our biggest challenges.

“In the Humanities at UC Santa Cruz, you see thinkers and doers reimagining the world and fully engaged in our biggest challenges,” Alinder said. 

In a separate ceremony held on May 19 honoring Humanities graduate students and alumni,  James E. Young (Stevenson, ’73, Literature and Psychology) (Ph.D. ’83, literature), addressed the crowd, talking about the way UCSC has supported him in his academic career. Earlier that day, the Graduate Division honored him with the Humanities Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award.

Young is at the forefront of memorializing historical tragedies internationally. From advising on memorials in Germany and Norway to helping design the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, Young has had a hand in preserving the memory of thousands of lives lost to global tragedies. 

Young is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of English and Judaic & Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The Humanities Division and The Humanities Institute acknowledged graduate student achievements and awards.  Dean Alinder presented Emre Keser with the Gary Lease Fellowship, a divisional award. 

Lani Hanna, Anne Napatalung, and Marina Segatti received Departmental Graduate Awards in Feminist Studies.

Sarah Chang, David Duncan, Ania Gricuk, Alexyss McClellan-Ufugusuku, Meleia Simon-Reynolds, Adriane Kelani Stoia, Jonathan van Harmelen, Jinghong Zhang and Piper Milton received Departmental Graduate Awards in History.   

Christian Alvarado, Darien Acero, Phil Conklin, Adrian Drummond-Cole, Jen Ham, Won Jeon, Emre Keser, Xindi Li, Kay MacFarlane, Michael McCarrin, Melody Nixon, Ariella Patchen and Shaun Terry received Departmental Graduate Awards in History of Consciousness.

Netta Ben-Meir, Richard Bibbs, Andrew Hedding, and Vishal Sunil Arvindam received Departmental Graduate Awards in Linguistics. 

Debbie Marlee Duarte, Skyler Rose Marshall and Thaïs Miller received Departmental Graduate Awards in Literature.  

Jordan Dopkins, Philip Groth and Ana Pedroso received Departmental Graduate Awards in Philosophy. 

At the graduate student celebration, THI celebrated more than 80 graduate fellows that the institute supported this year, ranging from students at the beginning of their PhD to the end of their dissertation. This included: 

The THI Year-Long Dissertation Fellow is Kesley McFaul (Literature.)

THI Year-Long Public Fellows are Katie O’Hare (Literature) partnering with Santa Cruz Shakespeare, Nathan Osorio (Literature) partnering with UC Press, and Radhika Prasad (Literature) partnering with the Center for the Art of Translation. 

The THI/UC Network Dissertation Fellow is Gabriel Mindel (History of Consciousness.) 

The THI Summer Dissertation Fellows for 2022-23 are David Duncan, Steven Green, Angie Sijun Lou, Michal McCarrin, Anne Napatalung, Marina Segatti, Meleia Simon-Reynolds, and Jinghong Zang.

See the Graduate Student Awards and Scholarships page for a full listing of this year’s honorees.

Original Link: