Our Alumni

Over the last four years, our graduates have gone on to work with over 20 universities and corporations:

Maryland General Assembly – Legislative Aide       UC: Riverside – Assistant Professor
Smith College – Assistant Professor                      Dartmouth College – Assistant Professor
CSU: Dominguez Hills – Assistant Professor          National Football Leauge – Tight End
KIPP LA Schools – After School Instructor              Gracenote – Associate Program Director
Ariel Public Communications – Writer                   Aderant – Resarch Specialist
USC – Talent Search                                             Riot Games – Development Manager
Red Cross – Develpoment Officer                         CIP Comm. & Indusrty Prog. – Graphic Designer
IEC Colleges – Director of Admissions                  Harvard University – PHD Student
Movement Strategy Center- Senior Fellow            City of LA – Mgt. Assistant/Compliance Unit
Stanislav’s Superior Court – Legal Clerk                Anthem Inc. – Manager Goverment Relations
Jumpcut Studios – Content Developer                  Green Dot Corp. – Vendor Managment Analyst
Square – Disputes Support Representative           Lionsgate Entertainment – Assistant Manager
ABC Entertainment – Publisist                              My Hotel Wedding – Marketing
Smoking Guns Studio – Visual Artist/Designer 
an image of Shamoiya Washington with black hair, black-rimmed glasses, in a white shirt and gold necklace, smiling with teeth

Shamoiya Washington, American Studies & Ethnicity ‘14

American Studies & Ethnicity majors, congratulations on choosing one of the supreme academic programs at USC! I loved being an ASE major because it was my safe place, my home where I was able to convene with my fellow peers and discuss progressive ideas and thoughts. I know many people will ask you,”What is American Studies and Ethnicity and what can you do with an ASE major?” Well I will be honest and tell you that with an American Studies & Ethnicity major, your career opportunities are endless! Because you will have learned how to “decolonize your mind” you will be able to go out into the world as a free thinker – independent of any uniform thought. In your professional endeavors, people will depend on you to bring fresh perspectives and ideas. You will undoubtedly think outside of the margins and stand out amongst your peers! Your major or minor in American Studies & Ethnicity is about expanding your mind – a higher level learning that will last longer than anything you will ever learn in a textbook. Your mind is invaluable so invest in it while you are at USC. You have already taken the first step by becoming an ASE major so again congratulations! I wish you the best on your journey to a higher level of consciousness!

an image of Karina Casillas in medium-length black wavy hair, talking into a mic, with a light blue blazer and pearl necklace

Karina Casillas, B.A. American Studies and Ethnicity ‘13

My dual-degree combination was unheard of at the time, but made sense to me: American Studies and Ethnicity & Public Policy and Development. I translated it as “the study of social issues and how policy can change or affect our shared and independent experiences”. My self created degree tract became a practical and hands-on approach to learn how to help others resolve and prevent circumstances many deal with today. I was accepted to USC as an undeclared major. As I was researching the majors USC offered, I was first drawn into International Relations. Having volunteered in my community from the age of 5, I knew I wanted to help people. While the degree dealt with international rights and social issues, there was something missing. I realized that the same issues we encounter abroad are also experienced here locally. As Dolores Huerta once mentioned best, and I paraphrase, how can I be a good ally and assist abroad if I haven’t tried to solve similar local issues. My freshman year after having met a few good friends and mentors I discovered my degrees and couldn’t have been happier with the results and experience it’s offered me towards helping others. The best part is that due to its multi-disciplinary nature I can pursue any career I choose (policy, teaching, consulting, academia, law, etc). Post graduation, the multidisciplinary nature of my studies helped me better navigate the interdisciplinary nature of how the “real world” works.

an image of David Hernandez in a black suit with a checkered black and white tie and light blue shirt. He has short hair and is smiling with no teeth

David Hernandez, B.A. Chicano/Latino Studies ’13

I choose to be an American Studies and Ethnicity Major because I knew it would provide me with a different lens of how to best make sense of the world around me. At the same time it has allowed me to establish: effective writing skills, critical thinking analysis, research skills, and all learning from an interdisciplinary framework. In doing so, I feel that I have a variety of options to choose from after graduation, from law, education, the arts, research, entertainment or politics.

an image of Nelly Chavez with black-rimmed glasses and long black hair, in a navy blazer and smiling with teeth

Nelly Chavez, Fulbright Fellow, B.A. American Studies & Ethnicity ’12

When I first got to USC, I felt lost. As a first-generation college student, I felt immense pressure to pick a major that would lead to the stability that is supposed to come with a college degree. Since I was far away from home, however, this pressure dissipated fairly quickly and I was able to delve into subjects that I had never imagined existed. As I discovered American Studies classes, which were one of the few places that discussed not only the current state of inequity in the United States but also the historic roots of this inequity and what we could possibly do to ameliorate and even liberate our communities from these conditions, I realized that I needed this knowledge to become the compassionate professional that I always wanted to be.

Through American Studies I met my faculty mentor, the late María Elena Martínez. With her warmth and guidance, I was able to make sense not only of the historical roots of racial and gender disparities in the Americas but also how important it was to be cognizant of these narratives in the fight for a more equal tomorrow. The American Studies curriculum was also flexible enough for me to pursue my other passion: French language and culture, which I was able to do not only through a full semester of studying abroad but also by taking all the necessary requirements to complete French as a major as well. I believe that American Studies has greatly helped me in my professional endeavors; not only am I now aware of the history of the institutions that working-class and minority communities deal with every day but I am also aware of the importance of reclaiming historical narratives and what that can do not only for our generation but for our children as well.

an image of Anay Martinez with long black hair and side parting to the right. she is wearing a horizontal striped shirt and is smiling with teeth

Anay Martinez, B.A. American Studies & Ethnicity ‘11

My first semester at USC was a difficult one, and part of that difficulty stemmed from feeling like I didn’t belong. Taking an American Studies and Ethnicity course was one of the first times I felt comfortable on campus. I realized the impact it had on me, and simply how much I was intrigued by the subject. I quickly declared a double major in ASE and Sociology. I fell in love with the major, and felt like every student on campus should take ASE courses. However, my enthusiasm was usually met with two questions – “What is ASE?” and “What are you going to do with that?” To give a simple answer, to me, ASE was the history I didn’t read about in my history books. It was a true understanding of our history, by learning it as an interdisciplinary study. It taught me how to think critically, to analyze, to understand power dynamics and intersectionality, to understand how our histories have affected us, and how they still affect us today. ASE enlightened my perspective to view the world through a social justice lens.

Through ASE I connected with some of the most encouraging professors, and I completed my Senior Honors Thesis, “Chicana Feminism during the Chicano Movement”, which was one of the highlights of my experience at USC. Throughout my time at USC, I worked within the field of education, whether that was student programing, mentorship, or teaching. After graduating from USC, I became a 5th grade Teach for America teacher, then went on to become a high school counselor for an Upward Bound program, and now I am back at USC as an Academic Advisor.

an image of Kendall Williams with the Cairo pyramids as the backdrop. She has long hair, is wearing a white short-sleeve shirt and is smiling with teeth

Kendall Williams, B.A. American Studies & Ethnicity ’11

I’m currently in a masters program at Teachers College, Columbia University, focusing on organizational leadership and development. I graduated from USC Dornsife with a BA as an ASE major in May 2011.

I started out as an International Relations major, but I switched to American Studies and Ethnicity after taking a GE course: Race, Religion and Rhetoric in America. After that course, I recognized the power of studying and attempting to better understand the world around me through a critical lens. ASE was an eye-opening discipline that allowed me to grow both academically and personally.

I kept International Relations as a minor, completing the requirements through Problems Without Passports in Cairo, Egypt. Through PWP we conducted a case study on sustainable and eco-tourism in Cairo and the Dahkla Oasis. Our two weeks over seas were spent interviewing several key figures in Egypt’s business sector and government and concluded with presenting our findings to the American Chamber of Commerce in Cairo.

I hope to have a career in academic and student affairs at a college or university.

Fight on!

a black and white image of Joanna Lin smiling with teeth. She has long, black hair

Joanna Lin, B.A. American Studies & Ethnicity ‘08

On the first day of Introduction to American Studies and Ethnicity, a course I took as a general education requirement, Professor Thomas Gustafson asked: “When did America begin?” One by one, students called out different years: 1492, the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas; 1607, the founding of the Jamestown in colonial Virginia; 1776, the adoption of the Declaration of Independence; and 1789, the commencement of the United States Constitution. I had never thought to ask this seemingly simple question. By questioning our country’s birthday, I realized I had questions about my own identity and relationship to the world – I just had never heard the questions articulated before. I left the class so excited that I went straight to the registrar’s office and changed my major!

I have picked up many of the skills needed for my careers as a journalist and as a data analyst while on the job. But I have used what I learned as a student of American Studies and Ethnicity – to foster curiosity, think critically and articulate questions, even those I may not immediately recognize – every day since graduation.

an image of Denise Chiang smiling with teeth. The day is sunny and she has medium-length black hair.

Denise Chiang, B.A. American Studies & Ethnicity ‘07

My high school education prepared me for a major in American Studies. I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland near Washington, DC. I liked Social Studies and English. This prepared me for an interdisciplinary approach to my studies at USC. As an American Studies major, I could study religion, politics, art history, film history, literature, etc. I finished the American Studies major after trying some other majors like International Relations and Communication, but in the end, it was very natural.

I paired the American Studies and Ethnicity major with a minor in Visual Culture and took film courses at USC. This gave me a liberal arts preparation for my career in arts and media. Particularly, It helped me appreciate storytelling and I studied how the visual world stimulates an audience. it provided me a wealth of knowledge in historical and cultural topics. While mostly self-taught in my career, I am definitely influenced by my liberal arts education. As cliche as this sounds, it taught me how to express myself and the world around me.

an image of Gina Clayton with medium length curly auburn hair. she has blue earrings and is wearing a black shirt. slight smiling with no teeth.

Gina Clayton, B.A. American Studies and Ethnicity ‘06

My American Studies and Ethnicity major provided an unparalleled opportunity for me to understand the condition and historical context of Black Americans and communities in the United States that have had to fight for meaningful inclusion in both history books and in society. The American Studies and Ethnicity classes I took were personally transformative for me. It is my education at USC ASE department that prepared me for my subsequent educational experience at Harvard Law School and provided the foundation for my current work.

From public interest law in The Hague, Atlanta, D.C. and Harlem to community organizing in Los Angeles, to running a race and gender justice organization today in Oakland, my ASE background helped me develop my perspective and find my purpose as an advocate for justice and equality today.

headshot of Oscar Rene Gutierrez in a gray suit and dark gray patterned tie. he has short hair, facial hair, and is smiling with teeth.

Oscar Rene Gutierrez, B.A. Chicano Studies ‘06

As a child of Mexican immigrants, I chose to major in Chicano Studies to learn more about my heritage, culture, and ancestors.  As we delved further and further into the materials, I not only began to appreciate Mexican history and culture more, but I also learned more about myself and my own identity as a Mexican-American.  Additionally, studying in such a diverse environment like Los Angeles enables you to live and experience the teachings and materials nearly every day.

Professionally, majoring in Chicano Studies sharpened my research, writing, and critical thinking abilities.  We were frequently tasked with reading hundreds of pages in a night, writing lengthy research papers, and/or digging into the depths of the JSTOR or Lexis-Nexis for primary sources.  All of these skills prepared me for the rigors of law school and have provided me with the tools to succeed as a trial lawyer.