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Dean's Graduate Scholarships

The Dean's Graduate Scholarships provide support for outstanding Gallatin MA students pursuing innovative, individualized concentrations that investigate questions and themes within four broad areas of interdisciplinary academic inquiry. Dean's Scholars are selected based on their previous academic record, the strength and promise of their proposed course of study, and their potential to contribute to the kinds of interdisciplinary conversations and engaged intellectual work that epitomizes the Gallatin ethos.

2021-2022 Dean's Graduate Scholars

Dara Epstein - MA Candidate: Equity and Advocacy in Theatre Performance


Dara Epstein

Dara is a singer, actor, writer, and facilitator with a particular affinity for collaborative work, building community through theater, and musical theater. She has chosen her Gallatin concentration after receiving an MA in Applied Drama: Theatre in Educational, Community, and Social Contexts from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2017. She is also a proud alumna of CUNY Hunter College, where she majored in theater and minored in sociology. She was raised with an awareness of political and social issues by liberal Jewish parents in central New Jersey, and she believes theater is a medium that is uniquely equipped to confront our assumptions and be a catalyst for social change. Through her studies at Gallatin, she aims to combine her creative practice with her own progressive beliefs and make artistic work that is reflective of the world in which we live.

Fion Fong: MA Candidate – Visual Arts, Architecture, and Film: Placemaking in East Asian Cultures

Fion Fong

Fion is an artist and designer from Toronto, Canada. She specialized in visual arts in high school, completed a Foundation in Art & Design at Central Saint Martins, and most recently a Bachelor of Architectural Studies at the Waterloo School of Architecture. Throughout her studies, Fion has had the chance to travel, study, and work in a variety of places and cultures. These experiences have inspired her to take an interest in the different ways cultures make place and home. At Gallatin, she is exploring a variety of artistic mediums including visual arts, writing, and filmmaking. Her aim is to represent a collection of personal and collective moments of placemaking that is unique to the Asian diasporic experience. Thematically, Fion is focused on everyday events, coincidences and unexpected moments, memory and emotion, and places in the city with unique spatial qualities. In the process of representing these moments, she aspires to understand some of the ways they play out in individual lives and perhaps in a larger whole. The hope is also that creating around these themes can bring about connection and understanding, insight, representation, and opportunity for East Asians in the arts.

Assia Turquier-Zauberman: MA Candidate - Social Anthropology, Trauma Theory and Apophatic Thought

Assia Turquier-Zauberman

Assia works in fields ranging from live art to anthropology and cinema. She graduated from the London School of Economics in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Social Anthropology. While there, she met anthropologist David Graeber with whom she co-wrote her first book, Anarchy in a Manner of Speaking (Diaphanes, 2020), based on conversations between Graeber, Nika Dubrovsky, and Mehdi Belhaj Kacem. She works as an interpreter in documentary film festivals and has produced several short documentaries in Palestine, Israel, Egypt, and Lebanon. She was awarded the Gallatin Dean’s Scholarship in 2021 and has begun research on apophatic discourse, trauma theory and the ontology of image-making.

2020-2021 Dean's Scholars

Alex Ates

Alex Ates

Alex Ates is from New Orleans, Louisiana, and plans to study theater, activism, education, and the American South at Gallatin. Before coming to Gallatin, Alex was the director of theater at Westtown, a K-12 Quaker school in Pennsylvania. For Backstagemagazine, he’s been an industry reporter covering labor unions, #MeToo, Time’s Up, diversity, and Covid-19—along with writing widely circulated educational guides on acting techniques. Alex’s byline has appeared in American Theatre, Howlround, and Scalawag. He's been a guest artist at Agnes Scott College, Emerson College, Teachers College of Columbia University, and Tulane University. He is a researcher on Black Mountain College and has been awarded a Graduate Scholar Award from Southeastern Theatre Conference, SETC. He is a member of Actors’ Equity and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, SDC. Alex holds a BA from Emerson College, an MFA from The University of Alabama, and was educated in Orleans Parish Public Schools.

Alexandra Boone

Alex Boone

After spending all of her early years of education at a progressive K-12 school in Chicago, Illinois, Alexandra Boone came to Gallatin to question the reality she was raised in. As a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar at NYU she benefited from the interdisciplinary style of learning at Gallatin, fusing together her interests in painting, Black studies, and educational philosophy. Her undergraduate concentration used critical race theory to explore the internal and external effects of hegemonic pedagogy on Black students throughout their lives. Specifically, she used trauma theory to facilitate a nuanced understanding of how racism works to continuously thwart the development of Black subjectivity. Beyond the classroom, she spent time expanding anti-racist curricula in NYC public schools. After being exposed to the existential truths of Afropessimism (a critical framework of Black theory), she returned to Gallatin to pursue a masters in Black Studies, Philosophy, and the Sociology of Education. As a Graduate Dean’s Scholar, Alexandra is pushing philosophical questions about Blackness to the limits, interrogating why theories such as humanism, dualism, and existentialism provide the silent infrastructure of Democracy in the United States. By entangling these renowned theories with the development of racial capitalism, and disrupting the narrative of progress they provide for individuals and communities, Alexandra hopes to imagine a new philosophy of learning which centers the Blackness as the truth of our world.

Aran Chang

Aran Chang

Aran Chang graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a BA degree in Medicine, Science, and Humanities, focusing on history of science and Korean history. At the beginning of his undergraduate journey, Aran was actually a Biochemistry major, but after taking the class “Moral and Social Programs in Healthcare” at Northeastern University, he reflected on his own childhood experiences and how it often felt like the healthcare system failed to address the needs of his community. Along with what he learned in the classroom from his mentor, the late Susan Setta, Aran wanted to learn more about history and the medical humanities. He transferred to Johns Hopkins for his sophomore year to pursue his interests in medical humanities alongside his premed workload and working in a VCA transplant laboratory. Aran wanted to learn more about public health and continue expanding his interest in the medical humanities before applying to medical school. In Gallatin, he found a program that allows him the flexibility to take STEM courses to prepare him for medical school, but also allows him to pursue his interests on how to help marginalized communities gain better access to healthcare.


Kenya Moore

Kenya Moore

In her undergraduate studies, Kenya Moore often wrestled with concepts of liberation, justice, and freedom for many populations as she completed her BA in Global Affairs, with a concentration in Global Inequalities and Responses, and while pursuing an IPA in Public Policy and Management, Perspectives, and Issues at SOAS University of London. Kenya began to realize that no population in the world will ever know liberation without combating anti-Blackness and without liberating Black folks from the invisible threads of systemic oppression disguised as everyday struggles and individual experiences. This drew Kenya to pursuing her graduate degree at Gallatin where intersectionality and interconnectedness are inherent values of the School. During her time in the MA program, Kenya aims to continue exploring and discovering ideas of communal liberation outside of existing social and legal frameworks through her interest in overlapping academic fields and lived experiences.

2019-2020 Dean's Scholars

Amílcar Ortiz Cárdenas

Amilcar Ortiz

Amílcar Ortiz Cárdenas holds a BA in Audiovisual Communications with a concentration in editing from the School of Media and Audiovisual Communications from Cuba’s Instituto Superior de Arte. For the past eight years, Amílcar has been researching and working directly on issues related to racial discrimination, gender equity, and the cultural contributions of the African Diaspora in Cuba, with a particular focus on documenting grassroots movements and making more visible the richness of Afro-Cubans’s everyday anti-racist work. His independent documentary projects include a work-in-progress, De eso no se habla, which received financial support in 2018 from GO CUBA! The film, which was also a World Cinema Amsterdam selection, looks at Cuba’s new nation-building project in which the topic of race has re-emerged and gained centrality. His previous film, Against the Ropes (2015), is a documentary that tells the story of the racial debate that was initiated in Cuba in 1959 with the triumph of the revolution and which disappeared from the national public sphere only three years later.


Beryl Liu

Beryl Liu

Beryl Liu is an aspiring actor, producer, and filmmaker. She completed an undergraduate degree at McGill University where she co-produced and directed her first narrative short film, Rêverie 11:12. A Chinese-born Canadian, Beryl is passionate about bridging cultures and differences through creative mediums. She believes that the dramatic arts of film and theater are at the heart of bringing stories to life, and offers insight into the human experience. At Gallatin, she is pursuing an artistic thesis on the study of actor-character relationships, the technical variances—psychological, intellectual, and emotional—between stage and camera acting, and the exploration of how this craft serves in the process of storytelling.

Beryl has worked with several film-related organizations to explore international collaboration in film co-production and distribution, with involvement in festivals such as Sundance and Festival de Cannes. She believes that creative story weaving in cinema and theater is essential for sharing unvoiced narratives, and necessary to foster understanding and compassion.

Caroline Shadle

Caroline Shadle

Caroline began as a pre-professional ballet student in Chicago and went on to become a leader of the dance community at Wesleyan University, where she earned a BA in American Studies and English. In her professional life, Caroline has worked as an arts administrator at institutions including The Joyce Theater, The Kennedy Center, and at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. She joins the Gallatin graduate program with the aim of exploring how she can contribute to the study, exploration, and advancement of ballet as an art form.

Focusing on dance history, arts journalism and criticism, and dance pedagogy, Caroline will take dancer and choreographer Ruth Page—at whose Chicago dance school Caroline trained for over a decade—as her main focus of study. A Dean’s Scholar at Gallatin, Caroline will examine how Page contributed to the development of ballet in America, within the context of other American female ballet choreographers. She will investigate questions about the interaction of ballet ecosystems in Chicago and New York, as well as the ballet world’s continued intersections with issues of gender- and race-based power structures and hierarchies, and ever-evolving social landscapes.

2018-2019 Dean's Scholars

Kendra Claire Capece

Image of Kendra Claire Capece

While pursuing her individualized BA at St. Mary’s College of California, Kendra Claire Capece had the unique pedagogical experience of wrestling with themes of oppression and liberation as both the Occupy and Arab Spring movements were taking place. After completing her capstone project, which reflected on her own radical academic career by making parallels to Paulo Freire’s theories of “conscientization,” Kendra was eager to continue exploring these themes. She has gained diverse experience listening and working with people all over the world: she co-founded a human rights film festival in the Bay Area, strategized with women in Nepal, volunteered with refugees in Rome, advocated with homeless youth in San Francisco, protested white supremacy in Ferguson, and organized with Students for a Free Tibet. At Gallatin, Kendra continues her pursuit of blending reflection with action, while challenging the exclusivity of social movements and engaging with what it means to resist, both independently and collectively.

Efton Jiles

Image of Efton Jiles

Efton Jiles encountered a world of peoples, traditions, and spiritual and material cultures when he traveled the globe as an international trader in fine art and art objects. When working as a government cultural curator of Native American archaeological artifacts, he confronted the complex world of indigenous peoples’ spiritual devotion to the objects adventitious scholars disturbed in the course of their studies. Driven by a curiosity about what occurs behind the celestial wizard’s curtain, Efton for years has studied the world’s religions as an outsider, more curious in why people believe than what they believe. At Gallatin, deeply troubled by the worldwide refugee crisis, he intends to learn about new research in affective, cognitive, and social neuroscience, looking for neural roots to spirituality and religious behavior—not as a neurologist, but as a trans-disciplinarian, investigating what happens to refugees when their flight interrupts or erases spiritual communities and practices.

Davia Schendel

Image of Davia Schendel

Born and raised in San Francisco, Davia Schendel grew up in a vibrant community that strived to produce art that could inspire activism and cultural change. Throughout her childhood and into her undergraduate years at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, she immersed herself in the craft of storytelling by ways of studying acting, writing and directing. At Gallatin, she is continuing her practical studies of theater and film, as well as researching the influences of Neoclassical comedy and Renaissance idealism on cinema’s depiction of female experience. As a first year graduate student, Davia is currently preparing her thesis, which will be a comedic feature film based on a screenplay she wrote.  

Colleigh Stein

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Colleigh Stein returned to Gallatin for her Master’s degree, having completing her BA at Gallatin in 2015 with the concentration “The Adaptation of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Literature for Film & Television.” During her senior year, she began conducting research into the field of Fan Studies. After graduating, she moved back to her home city of Los Angeles to work in film marketing for Universal Pictures. She continued to expand upon the work she began as an undergraduate and presented at the Popular Culture Association’s national and international conferences in destinations including San Diego, Seattle, and Reykjavík, Iceland. Her presentations explored the deconstruction of narrative canonicity and the role of participatory culture in destabilizing and recentering authorship. At Gallatin, Colleigh continues to study participatory culture. Her concentration, “Literature, Media, Popular Culture, and Fan Studies”, illustrates how individuals form relationships and build communities in a mediated world.

2017-2018 Dean's Scholars

Luis Aguasviva

Image of Luis Aguasviva

Luis is dedicated to service by aiding diverse urban communities in achieving empowerment. He earned his BA in History from the University of Florida, focusing on modern Latin America. After graduating, he served as an English teacher in Benin, West Africa, where he participated in the Let Girls Learn initiative. Upon his return to the United States, he interned as a member of NYC Parks Stewardship division as an urban environment community organizer where he worked with community groups and passionate individuals keeping the city’s natural resources safe for future generations. Currently, he promotes ethics in international relations as a Carnegie Council Student Ambassador and continues to foster community engagement as a member of Gallatin’s Urban Democracy Lab student advisory board. While at Gallatin, Luis is combining his experience working with communities with his passion for Latin America to study how cities can be both zones of conflict and harbingers of opportunity.

Bojana Coklyat

Image of Bojana Coklyat

Bojana found herself becoming an advocate for Disability justice when she began losing her vision. Informed by her experiences with lack of access to the arts and education, she started several programs to fill this void: she formed her own position where she implemented an accessible art program at St. Joseph’s School for the Blind and she instituted proper ADA accommodations throughout art venues in Jersey City. After graduating from New Jersey City University with a BA in Art Therapy, Bojana began pursuing access in the arts more fervently. At Gallatin, she is focusing on the intersection of Disability Studies and Art Administration. She is an intern at the Whitney Museum of Art in their Access and Community Program as well as taking classes in Sociology, Art Administration, Museum Studies, and Sign Language Interpretation. Research for her thesis will examine the environments that cultural institutions cultivate for staff living with disabilities. In 2018, Bojana was awarded a Provost Global Research Initiative Fellowship in support of her studies.  

Doris Gonzalez

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Doris moved to New York City from the US-Mexico border where she was born and raised. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English and Spanish from Texas A&M International University. As an undergraduate, she wrote a creative writing thesis in both English and Spanish based on her experiences as a Mexican American growing up in both the United States and Mexico. Because of her love for stories and helping others, Doris decided to study human rights and writing at NYU. While at Gallatin, she wants to write about the lived experiences of Mexicans in the United States in order to improve the lives of marginalized communities like her own. In the future, she aspires to teach immigrants how to read and write in English. Currently, Doris is working on a collection of nonfiction works on artists on the border, and on Gallatin’s Literacy Review Editorial Board.

Taylor Tracy

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Taylor has lived in the shadow of New York City in nearby New Jersey all her life and she has always been drawn to the city’s vibrant and diverse literary and artistic communities. As an artist, writer, and scholar, she hopes to be part of an ongoing shift in the arts that welcomes more diverse, nuanced, and intersectional female identities. She uses affect theory and feminist theories to understand the emotional attachments we form to culture and how different textual and visual cultures can offer validation, hope and a sense of community various intersectional female identities, specifically queer and neurodivergent identities. After completing a BA in English and Art History at Drew University, she decided that Gallatin was the perfect place to expand her knowledge of theory and practical skills to help her think more critically about inclusivity in art museums and young adult publishing imprints.