Class of 2019
Nick moved a few miles south after graduating. The Northwestern University Public Interest Program (NUPIP) placed him at Cradles to Crayons as the Community Engagement Fellow. Cradles to Crayons, the NU Dance Marathon’s primary beneficiary in 2018, is a nonprofit that provides 0-12 year-olds experiencing poverty and homelessness throughout the Chicagoland area with high-quality new or gently-used items for their success at home, school, and play. He keeps the warehouse well stocked by organizing collection campaigns with small businesses, youth groups, and corporate groups that volunteer.
Class of 2014
"Years out of college, I still think about how I struck gold by discovering the American Studies program. Through the small seminar-style classes, lounge where students and professors crossed paths, and program events, I developed close relationships with professors. Taking classes across the humanities and social sciences taught me to be at ease with having an outsider perspective (I was never going to know more about literature or political science than students in those majors) and to connect ideas across disciplines. Every quarter, it felt like no matter how disparate the classes I was taking, I could find through-lines among the courses and often discussed them with professors. In short, American Studies encouraged a kind of energetic and creative intellectual inquiry.
I'm currently a producer for the NPR podcast and radio show Hidden Brain, which typically ranks among the top 15 most-downloaded podcasts in the country. The show is centered on human behavior and blends research and narrative. Our episodes often connect to inequality and identity, two major themes I explored in American Studies. We cover research in the social science, from anthropology to psychology to economics, so my job feels not far from my interdisciplinary experience in American Studies. I arrived at NPR after completing a master's in Comparative Social Policy from Oxford, where I was a Marshall Scholar. The encouragement and training from American Studies professors made the improbable feat of winning the Marshall Scholarship possible. I also periodically write for publications outside of NPR, including The Atlantic and The New Republic. The pieces I've published with those outlets have all related to gender, history and policy--subjects that I directly studied in my college classes and thesis."
Class of 2019
“From football games to our senior thesis seminar, Northwestern was a very full and enriching experience. Moving into the real world, I'm especially grateful for the University and Program's emphasis on undergraduate research. I think this focus gave me some great practical skills and familiarity with Latin American legal systems that are already helping me.”
Grant started as a legal intern with the International Justice Mission (IJM) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. His work there focuses on human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, seeking system reform in law enforcement, public justice, and victim attention. IJM's legal team’s "System Reform" phase includes giving workshops to judges and prosecutors through a partnership with the National Judiciary School of the DR and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Upon returning from the DR in August 2020, he plans to work either in criminal justice or migration-related work, aiming toward organizations that specialize in legal and social services which address childhood trauma. Eventually he plans to pursue a JD/MsW or JD/PsyD, with the hope of being able to supply trauma-informed legal care.
Class of 2017
"I never had much interest in becoming an academic, but I knew that I wanted to share the things I was learning with others. After graduation, I attended a 1-year Masters of Teaching Social Studies at Columbia Teachers College. In July, I received my certification and decided to stay in New York City to teach 7th and 8th grade U.S. History in an all-girls public school. I plan on staying with The Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem for the foreseeable future and hope to continue working with students to look closely at American History and build critical thinking skills."
Class of 2016
Molly is pursuing a PhD in American Studies at George Washington University focused on gender studies, media studies, and urban studies. Her interest in depictions of women and girls in popular culture, imagery of suburbia, representations of the American family, and popular memory and nostalgia are a natural progression from her undergraduate thesis, “Rebuilding Dream Images: Nostalgia for the Home, the Family, and the Housewife in the Suburban Sitcom.” On a seemingly daily basis, she is grateful for the methodological and theoretical grounding that Northwestern's American Studies department provided, as well as the atmosphere of conviviality and support that helped her to find her interests and grow as a writer.
Class of 2010
"It's been 10 years since I last sat in the American Studies Seminar room but I can still remember the hours spent there discussing everything from ancient mythology to the history of photography as an art form to quintessential American poets, to name a few of the many topics we covered. Looking back, these courses did so much more than expose me to a wide variety of content. They taught me how to think- how to approach problems, how to ask good questions, how to live in the grey area that inevitably contains most things in life. It's this approach to thinking that allows for connections across disciplines, topics, and genres and has helped me in my professional career.
After spending four years working at a ski resort and leading wilderness trips, I returned to school to complete a post-baccalaureate premedical certificate at Bryn Mawr College and then went on to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. I am now applying for residency in orthopaedic surgery and will graduate in May, 2020. On one of my rotations for medical school, I returned to Utah, the setting for my senior thesis, for a month and was able to explain that American Studies was the reason I knew so much about the history of uranium mining in the U.S."
Russel’s first job after graduation was for Creative Artist Agency, first in the Motion Picture Literary department in Los Angeles, and then in the Theatre Literary and Talent departments in NYC. His next big project was to perform in and produce a large scale immersive experience called ARCADE AMERIKANA at Brooklyn's Industry City, recognized by TimeOut New York as one of the city's 10 best immersive theatre events. He spent Summer 2019 assisting Rachel Brosnahan on set for THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL, and continued as the first hire at her Amazon Studios production banner, Scrap Paper Pictures.
“Working across mediums, it is crucial to understand how stories inform and are informed by our culture at large. As a creator and a producer, the ability to approach this question critically from many angles has enabled me to move forward.”
After graduation Ryan was stunned and thrilled when an academic and professional dream came true for him; an internship in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Supporting the small but mighty team tasked with advancing President Obama's domestic policy priorities in conjunction with county and municipal officials taught him how local government directly impacts hundreds of millions of constituents every day. When the internship ended he joined the New Hampshire Democratic Coordinated Campaign in Manchester as a Field Organizer. From there he moved to Washington, D.C. where he volunteered at an immigration legal services provider and in administrative role at a law firm. Soon he joined former internship colleagues the Obama Foundation to support the Development team, responsible for He has been involved in securing the funding for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s Jackson Park as well as the Foundation's ongoing efforts to inspire, empower, and connect people who are changing their world. In the summer of 2019 he began law school at Boston College where he looks forward to charting a path in public interest law."
"I graduated and was admitted to a rotational marketing program at Google but deferred it for a year to complete my Master's of Science degree in Migration Studies at Oxford. I wrote about the adoption and deportation of Korean children to/from the U.S. and learned a lot about life and elitism there.
At Google, I'm on the events marketing team for Google Cloud doing a lot of comms and program managing work, and will be rotating to my next role by April.
In the future, I aspire to pursue a JD/PhD degree... I'm currently researching my options, but the JSP PhD program at Berkeley stand out to me, as of course, the American Studies program at Yale. With my joint-degree, I hope to pursue academia and perhaps teaching!"
Class of 2010
"I remember American studies being a fantastic opportunity to pursue a personal academic interest. I used the major to study the interaction between Mexican immigrants and dietary changes after living in the US. The main reason I wanted to join American studies was to become an exceptional analytical writer. Ivy Wilson was the head of the department at the time and he helped develop my writing ability over the last two years of college.
I was also premed during college and have since completed medical school and am now in my last year of residency at the University of Washington. After I complete residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation, I plan to move to Chicago to complete a one year fellowship in pain medicine at Northwestern University."
Class of 2017
"I am in my final year of law school at UC Berkeley, and after graduation I will be moving to my home town of St. Louis to work at a firm and volunteer with state and local elections. To prepare myself for that, I will be working on a project with the ACLU of Northern California on election law issues in the spring."
Class of 2012
"I found my closest friends from school in the program that have led to lifelong connections and experiences.
From my experience in AMST, I became highly focused on parts of the financial markets in which understanding varying cultural norms, ideas, and political systems was more important than simply evaluating investments for objective merits such as cashflow, etc. Since graduating I have been focused on investing in Emerging Markets where the tools and skills I learned from AMST were much more valuable than those I learned from my Economics major and from any understanding of accounting, corporate finance, etc."
"I graduated from the program in 2013. I moved to D.C. shortly thereafter and worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in the Office of Public Affairs. After Treasury, I moved to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where I still work (including a brief stint in Seattle, but now back in D.C.). I focus on our work and partnership with the U.S. government. I've recently been involved in the launch of a new organization called the Gates Policy Initiative, which will focus on lobbying federal policymakers on issues across global health, development, education, and economic mobility.
American Studies directly contributed to my career path, my thesis focused on the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which was some of the background and experience that led me into the political and policy space. Through American Studies, I learned how to analyze and synthesize issues clearly, which has been invaluable in my trajectory post-school. Writing well and critical thought are undervalued, and desperately needed across government, policy, and philanthropy."
Class of 2016
Ellis spent the 2016/17 academic year at Oxford completing an MSt in English and American Studies while also having the opportunity to perform as Marcellina in a student-production of the Marriage of Figaro as well as the St. Peter’s College Chapel Choir.
She spent two months interning for Alec Ross’s Maryland gubernatorial campaign and shortly thereafter moved to New York to work as an analyst at Kobre & Kim, a law firm specializing in cross-border/multi-jursidictional litigation.
Her favorite work with the firm was the pro bono cases she got to work on involving appellate law and defending an individual facing with felony charges in SDNY.
Class of 2016
“I loved the American Studies program. The opportunity to take classes in a variety of disciplines, along with intimate American Studies seminars, made for a unique and fulfilling learning environment. The senior thesis process allowed me to explore a topic I was interested in with a depth I hadn't experienced before”
Scott currently works at the Chicago Urban League doing policy research and advocacy for policy change at the state and local level. American Studies helped him to understand how seemingly disparate social issues are deeply interconnected, and honed his ability to make these connections in service of a better, more just world.
“I’m ambitious and optimistic about the future. Hoping to maintain my persistence in pursuing a career in academia, I realize the road will be long and require much patience and adaptability. I love doing research.”
After graduation Emily spent two years exhausting her interests and itches in Chicago and France before begining the graduate program in American Culture/Studies at the University of Michigan. She’s currently a second year PhD student and enjoys taking courses, teaching, and doing research on the contemporary memory of slavery through literature, visual culture, and museums.
Class of 2013
"I am endlessly grateful for all that I received from American Studies- both the department, faculty, and my cohort of students. In a culture prone to classifying and codifying things into their own categories, American Studies encouraged us to look closer and to ask questions--to see links and places where one thing bleeds into the next.
Professionally I incorporate my American Studies major every day. I am a television executive tasked with finding new stories for my network as well as working on the shows that we already have in production. As an AMST major, my focus was how art and literature affect and reflect societal change, so I am deeply aware of the potential impact stories have on us. TV is the storytelling medium that finds us in our homes, when we think we’ve shut off for the day but are actually absorbing and creating our biases based on the shows we watch. When we see empowered, complex characters each week in our own living rooms, they seep in and begin to change the way we perceive the world around us. As Mr. Rogers once said, television has the power to make a community of the entire country.
I live in Los Angeles and just married a fellow NU alum, Andrew Nissen."
Class of 2013
"The American Studies Program afforded me the unique opportunity to become an academic amphibian: during my three years as an AmStud, I moved across art history, ethnic studies, civil engineering, and sociology to uncover linkages between these ostensibly different disciplines. When I reflect on experiences that have shaped my worldview, I recognize how the program—with its diverse faculty and my similarly inquisitive peers—not just validated, but actively encouraged my curiosity as a practice. It empowered me to navigate the world after college with the guiding principle that in order to understand any system fully, I had to cobble together constituent and seemingly unrelated pieces to truly understand the whole.
Since graduating in 2013, I worked in education initiatives across the non-profit and private sectors—ranging from K-12 media production at Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to client capability-building and organizational development at McKinsey & Company. Currently, I lead the Data & Impact team at Generation, a global workforce development nonprofit, where we are working to advance the organization's approaches to assessing, analyzing, and demonstrating our impact on the lives of thousands of job-seekers around the world."
Class of 2015
Anna graduated with a double major in American Studies and History. Her interest in urban history led her to write a senior thesis on the migration of Southern Appalachians to Chicago after World War II. She moved to Washington, D.C. after graduation to work as an exhibitions researcher on an exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, curated by NU professor Daniel Greene. She originally began work on the exhibit, Americans and the Holocaust, as Dr. Greene's summer research assistant at Northwestern and was excited to continue working on archival research.
She started law school at the University of Virginia School of Law in the fall of 2017 and is active in the Public Interest Law Association, which provides service opportunities to law students and raises money for public interest summer grants.
Class of 2019
“I'm a Research Field Assistant at Osa Conservation (Conservación Osa) in Piro, Costa Rica, with a one year commitment through my Princeton in Latin America fellowship. The Osa peninsula, though quite small, is home to 2.5% of the world's biodiversity, and OC works to conserve that biodiversity through rainforest restoration, wildlife monitoring, turtle protection, healthy waterways, and community network programs. We also have an agroecological farm, Finca Osa Verde, where I work with a team of five other farmers. Agriculture and conservation are often at odds, but we're trying to change that through agroecologial practices that promote sustainable use of resources for the environment, producer, and consumer. We're in the process of becoming organic certified and make many of our pesticides on-site out of materials we grow (papaya leaves, chiles, for example). We're just beginning to supply food to the research station here in an effort to localize our food system, as well as experiment with new crops in the lowland wet tropics. It's been an incredibly hands on experience as I work in the fields every day, where we grow crops ranging from turmeric and ginger to yucca to starfruit to cherry tomatoes. I'm gaining experience not only farming but also managing a farm, meaning that I plan production cycles and irrigation systems, for example. One project I'm particularly excited about is starting our seed bank! After a year of writing on my thesis on seed saving, I craved the opportunity to actually practice the work. I'm in charge of starting our seed bank here and I've saved seeds (and germinated them again--they're sprouting already!) from nine varieties of hot chilies and one variety of cherry tomatoes. It's interesting putting my thesis to test in the field; I argued for quite detailed ‘seed story’ documentation, which I still wholeheartedly believe in, but I have had no time to research and record detailed seed stories yet. Still, when deciding which new crop types to attempt to grow here, I've wished for a better database of the geographies of where particular seeds have grown successfully, which is something I drew attention to as a shortcoming of status quo seed information. Which is to say...I'm looking forward to continuing this seed bank project by saving and growing out new varieties, creating our seed bank database with seed stories as a protocol, creating a seed saving brochure, and expanding access to local farmers. Below are a couple of photos of me at work/my work (seeds and harvests (: ). The Osa is ‘where the rainforest meets the sea’ and I'm really grateful to be here!”
Class of 2019
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"I started work at Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm in Washington DC, on a team geared towards bringing commercial best practices to government clients. I have learned a lot in my two months here, though I found that after writing my senior honors thesis last spring I was amply prepared for my research-heavy duties! The inter-disciplinary emphasis of the American Studies curriculum has also served me well, as I find that many of my tasks require me to call on skills from a host of different fields - from comparative analysis to the hard sciences. Looking forward, law school is on my radar with the goal to fuse my interests in social policy and national security."