Meet the CLAS of 2017: Humanities

Our humanities graduates push boundaries, driven by the conviction that anything is possible. They look to the past to understand different ways of living, and to make sense of how change happens and why the world developed the way it did. They interrogate the present, analyzing real problems that affect lives and they propose solutions that benefit the people that need them most. They travel near and far, exploring the rich diversity of cultures spread across the planet driven by curiosity and the belief that with open minds we can all learn from one another. And they leave KU armed with the knowledge and skills to make the world a better, fairer place for everyone.

Ashley Mog, Ph.D. in women, gender & sexuality studies

Notable: Ashley wrote an award-winning dissertation on how “comfort” influences public bathroom access. She drew from 15 oral histories with queer and trans disability justice activists to develop her research. The dissertation has been recognized by the American Association of University Women and Re:Gender. She taught classes both in person and online, including “Theories of Sexuality and Disability,” which was the first disability studies class in the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. ​

“I loved having the opportunity to create and teach a class for my department, Theories of Sexuality and Disability. The two times I taught this class, I had talented and passionate students that motivated me to keep teaching!” 

Her advice? “For graduate students especially, find an outlet or a self-care strategy to manage academic stress. Things like yoga, meditation, running, baking, singing – something outside of the work you do will enable you to focus on your academic work in a better and more centered way.”

Crystal Bradshaw, bachelor’s in English: creative writing

Notable: Crystal self-published her first book, “Eliza: A Generational Journey,” about her 5-times great grandmother’s journey from serving as a slave in Kentucky to freedom in Kansas. She is a Multi-Cultural Scholar and a 2015 Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute participant.

“After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in publishing, before eventually establishing my own publishing company with a focus on young writers’ works.

“My advice to current and incoming KU students is to never become so focused on pursuing specific academic goals to the point that you are missing out on other opportunities. I say this because I came to KU with blinders on. I wanted to get my English B.A. in four years, and I never stopped to think about a minor or studying abroad until my mentor suggested it. College is a time for studying and learning, but is also a time for exploring and discovering.”

Phillip McGruder, bachelor’s in liberal arts & sciences

Notable: Phillip has autism and when he joined KU he vowed to prove wrong anyone who told him he couldn’t do what others his age do; he graduates with that conviction proved and more, having also founded the KU student group BAM, Believe Autism Matters.

“Inspired by my personal experience, medically diagnosed with Autism at age 2, I created a campus group called Believe Autism Matters, where we devote our time to raise awareness and education about the developmental disorder. It helped me to promote social change and understanding because people with Autism often can’t communicate effectively as well with others. It feels great that you can make a positive impact that is felt throughout the KU/Lawrence area. I have grown during my time at KU. I’ve learned leadership, organizational skills, learned inclusion, displayed good character, which is a very important life quality. I learned the value of diversity. My advice to everyone is to always think before you act, take advantage of time and use it wisely, DO NOT PROCRASTINATE, enjoy Lawrence because it’s a great college town and strive to be the best person every day.”

Kendyl Siebart, master’s in museum studies

Notable: Kendyl spent a summer crafting and managing educational history programming for the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area’s youth summer camp and she also serves as an education assistant at Watkins Museum of History in Lawrence.

“The skills I have gained from KU and my program have been life changing. Outside the typical analytical components of graduate school, I have been able to have real-world learning opportunities. Throughout my time here I’ve been a GTA, a part of panel discussions and coordinated and led programs. These are the skills that make my resume amazing.”

Yoko Hori, master’s in East Asian languages & cultures

Notable: Yoko is a world traveler with a passion for learning. She’s studied at universities in Tokyo, Oregon and Missouri before coming to KU. She’s taught Japanese to students ranging from young to old in Minnesota, Kansas and Ukraine. And she spent five years studying Spanish. She’s also found time to travel throughout East Asia, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean. As she’s completing her thesis on “Jogakusei: the Iconic Image of the Japanese Schoolgirl in Meiji Japan,” she’s also studying elementary Ukrainian.

“My favorite memory at KU is meeting many great classmates, professors, international and domestic students through my job as a GTA at East Asian languages & cultures and an English conversation leader at Applied English Center.

“Stay curious and if you find something that interests you or excites you, go explore it.”

Natasha Myhal, master’s in indigenous studies

Notable: Natasha, a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribe, is one of a small number of Native women studying and conducting research in STEM fields. Her master’s thesis drew on coursework in federal Indian law, environmental studies and indigenous studies to suggest new policy initiatives for the sustainable harvest of bear root and other medicinal plants on federal land and national parks.

“After graduation, I will be attending the University of Colorado, Boulder Ph.D. program in ethnic studies. I will begin my studies in Fall 2017 and will be working with Professor Clint Carroll, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and an assistant professor in the Ethnic Studies Department. I will work with Professor Carroll on a National Science Foundation project with the Cherokee Nation focusing on access to medicinal plants, understanding obstacles to access to resource, tribal environmental education, and cultural and ecological resiliency.”