University of Maryland Individual Studies Program

Spring & Fall 2009 Graduates



TARYN ARIEL
B.A., Media Studies
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Eric Zakim, Hebrew Department and Dr. Katherine McAdams, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies
College Park Scholars: Media, Self, and Society

Taryn is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies. Media studies is a field studying both a humanities and a social science perspective to consider the effects of mass media on individuals, society, and popular culture. This field analyzes actual media content and different representations of media products. Taryn has studied in the Journalism, American Studies, and Communications Departments here at the University of Maryland in order to prepare her for a career in the media industry. Taryn also studied abroad in Sydney, Australia, where she furthered her education by studying Media Production, and International Film. Taryn has completed internships in different areas of the media field including CBS Radio, CW News, and recently interned at Atlantic Video, a production company im Washington, D.C., where she worked as a Production Assistant for Around the Horn, Pardon The Interruption, and multiple Discovery Health shows. She also just completed an internship at Final Cut Productions, a small production company in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she assisted with the production of a web-series. Taryn completed her Capstone Project on the subject "Intercultural Comedy." For this project, she researched comedy in various cultures, interviewing comedy experts and performers, and interviewing international students on cultural differences in humor. After graduation, Taryn plans to work in the media industry. Taryn is graduating with a citation from College Park Scholars: Media, Self, and Society.

Taryn is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies. Media studies is a field studying both a humanities and a social science perspective to consider the effects of mass media on individuals, society, and popular culture. This field analyzes actual media content and different representations of media products. Taryn has studied in the Journalism, American Studies, and Communications Departments here at the University of Maryland in order to prepare her for a career in the media industry. Taryn also studied abroad in Sydney, Australia, where she furthered her education by studying Media Production, and International Film. Taryn has completed internships in different areas of the media field including CBS Radio, CW News, and recently interned at Atlantic Video, a production company im Washington, D.C., where she worked as a Production Assistant for Around the Horn, Pardon The Interruption, and multiple Discovery Health shows. She also just completed an internship at Final Cut Productions, a small production company in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she assisted with the production of a web-series. Taryn completed her Capstone Project on the subject "Intercultural Comedy." For this project, she researched comedy in various cultures, interviewing comedy experts and performers, and interviewing international students on cultural differences in humor. After graduation, Taryn plans to work in the media industry. Taryn is graduating with a citation from College Park Scholars: Media, Self, and Society.

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Dan B.DAN BENAMOR
B.A., Film Writing and Analysis
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michael Olmert, Department of English
University Honors Program
The Jiménez-Porter Writer's House
Global Communities

Dan Benamor is glad to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Writing and Analysis.  He had been taking every film, art, and writing course he could get his hands on, and IVSP offered him a wonderful opportunity to incorporate these courses into a tangible, interesting major. Dan's senior thesis was a screenplay, entitled Eden's Gate, about a father who loses his son to cancer only to win the lottery and use his winnings to escape to a very mysterious retirement community for adults. In addition to his academic pursuits, Dan has been working as a script reader for a literary representation company and has also worked as a senior staff writer at The Diamondback newspaper, where he wrote film criticism. After graduation, Dan has a scholarship to the Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program. Dan graduates with citations from University Honors, The Jiménez-Porter Writer's House, and the Global Communities programs.

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RACHEL BERGSTEIN
B.A., Peace and Justice Studies
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Linda Zamani-Moghadam, Department of Sociology
University Honors Program
Summa cum Laude

Rachel Bergstein is graduating Summa cum Laude from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Peace and Justice Studies.  Her program of study examines the systemic relationship between violence and social injustice and explores ways of transitioning to a more peaceful and equitable society, with a particular focus on environmental issues.  Her senior thesis compares water injustice in Israel/Palestine and South Africa.  Rachel earned part of her credits through life-changing experiences outside of the United States, including a study abroad program on Environment and Energy in India and a summer internship with Friends of the Earth Middle East in Tel Aviv, Israel.  During her time at Maryland, Rachel was active in the Union of Progressive Zionists, with whom she organized the award-winning "Taste of Coexistence" falafel cook-off, and also participated in Clean Energy for the University of Maryland.  She interned at 1Sky, a D.C.-based climate campaign, and writes regularly for Green Prophet, a highly-regarded blog on environmental issues in the Middle East.  Rachel graduates with a citation from University Honors.  She will return to Israel in September as a recipient of the New Israel Fund's ten-month Social Justice Fellowship, through which she hopes to solve both the regional water crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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CAITLIN DIETSCHE
B.A., Studies of the Mind and Brain
Faculty Mentor: Dr. William J. Higgins, Department of Biology
Summa cum Laude

Caitlin Dietsche is graduating Summa cum Laude with a double degree: a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Individual Studies. She enjoyed the intellectual stimulation and freedom of developing her own major through the Individual Studies Program. Her senior IVSP project, "The Mind and Brain in Conversion Disorders," explores conversion disorders from the perspectives of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. During her undergraduate career, she worked in a neuroscience lab investigating neuroplasticy and early brain development by performing microscopic brain surgeries and recording brain activity. She was also active on campus as a trip leader at the Outdoor Recreation Center, a member of the women's club volleyball team, and a tutor for University of Maryland varsity athletes. She received the Academic Achievement Award acknowledging her academic success. In the fall, she will attend Jefferson Medical College with the intent of pursuing neurology and dedicating her life to the service of others.

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TARA M. FULLER
B.A., Multicultural Leadership in the United States
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nina P. Harris, Assistant Director, Burns Academy of Leadership
University Honors Program

Tara Fuller is thrilled to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Multicultural Leadership in the United States.  Her degree integrates cross-cultural studies, interpersonal human behavior, and educational leadership considering human diversity and the role of leadership in an educational setting.  Tara's senior project, "Identity Development and Cultural Competency: The Importance of Multicultural Education in Future Curriculum," discusses student identity development, and multiculturalism, and also how the changing current curriculum in formal education towards more inclusion of different identities positively impacts social justice.  Tara has worked with diversity and leadership in numerous ways during her time at the University of Maryland, including serving more than three years as a member of the Peer Leadership Council (PLC).  PLC gave Tara a variety of opportunities to help Maryland students develop their leadership skills.  Tara has worked on-campus as a Community Assistant and Customer Service Supervisor for the Department of Resident Life. Last summer, she applied knowledge from her on-campus employment, co-curricular activities, and formal coursework in her internship with Presidential Classroom, a non-profit, non-partisan organization for high school students, centered on civic education.  During her undergraduate career, Tara also took the opportunity to study Italian language and culture during a winter study abroad program in Genoa, Italy. Tara has been a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority for three years, including two years on the membership development team.  She will continue her involvement with Alpha Delta Pi full-time as a Leadership Consultant after graduation.  Tara graduates with a citation from the University Honors Program.

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LAURA HAWKINS
B.A., Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Adele Berlin, Robert H. Smith Professor of Bible, Department of English
Honors Humanities Program

Laura Hawkins is graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.  This degree integrates the disciplines of history, linguistics, archaeology, and art history to study the peoples and civilizations of the ancient Near East.  Laura's senior thesis examines how different civilizations in the Near East pictorially represented themselves and foreigners, with a focus on "race" and "ethnicity." During her University of Maryland career, Laura also worked on analyzing finds from the Hampden Community Archaeology Project, through the Anthropology Department, and spent two summers excavating in Yotvata, Israel.  In addition to her academic life, Laura was also actively involved in the University of Maryland Gymkana Troupe.  She acted as the Gymkana Treasurer during the 2007-2008 academic year and Gymkana President during the 2008-2009 academic year.  She also lived in the Language House Arabic Cluster from 2007 through 2008 and is a participant in the National Undergraduate Arabic Flagship Program.  After graduation, she will be living and studying in Alexandria, Egypt, for a year through the Flagship Program, and then will enter into graduate school in Assyriology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. 

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JONATHAN JOFFE
B.A., Music Consumerism
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Suzanne Beicken, Department of Music 

Jon Joffe is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Consumerism. Music Consumerism involves studying music as a product for public consumption and examines methods and principles of marketing, consumer preference, and purchasing behavior based on cultural trends. During his four years at the University of Maryland, Jon has successfully balanced his full-time academic schedule with his role as manager and performer in the touring music group Codename. Having boosted the band to notoriety in the Northeast, he plans to further develop the group and continue touring nationally after graduation. He has contributed to the musical community in and around campus in various ways, including performances, workshops, and the organization and promotion of a benefit concert for his senior project. Jon's senior project including finding sponsorship and various entertainment for a benefit concert as well as effectively promoting the event. His band performed at the concert and raised awareness and funds for the Mockingbird Foundation, a non-profit organization that brings music education to children.

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MEGAN LAHMAN
B.A., Civic Journalism
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Katherine McAdams, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Jiménez-Porter Writer's House

Megan Lahman is a six-year undergraduate wonder. While she jokes about being a professional student, she loves learning and experiencing life as much as possible. She started her undergraduate career at Frostburg State University and transferred to the University of Maryland in the fall of 2005. Megan's major of Civic Journalism combines journalism with creative writing, community relations, leadership studies, and American politics. While at Maryland, Megan has completed two academic programs: The Jiménez-Porter Writer's House and The Rawlings Center for Public Leadership Undergraduate Fellows program. She was also a work study student for the James McGregor Burns Academy of Leadership. Megan served as a contributing writer for The Diamondback and for a few off-campus publications. Along with her journalism work, she has had poetry published in the literary magazine The Backbone Mountain Review. Megan also interned for The Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs. In 2004, she led the Rock the Vote campaign on campus and registered at least 200 students to vote. She also ran an alternative winter break trip to work with Habitat for Humanity in Jacksonville, Florida. Megan actively participated in TerPoets and the Lutheran Student Association, and also hosted her own radio show on WMUC called The Alternative Breakfast Party from Hell. For her senior project, Megan created a magazine called Terrapin Soup. This publication is a mixture of all things pop cultural and cool about the University of Maryland, and it features news and stories that other publications on campus have not covered. Megan hopes to do the following in the future: work at a newspaper as a reporter, travel the world via couch-hopping, earn her driver's license, take Spanish and photography classes, and attend graduate school. Megan would like to thank the following people for their support: Johnna Schmidt, Dr. Kathy McAdams, Dr. Joan Burton and the IVSP staff, Dr. Nina Harris, Tyrone Stewart, everyone at the Academy of Leadership, Dr. Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, Cherie and Ron Krug, Pastor Beth Platz, Pastor Stephen Yelovich, Barbara Goldberg, Shirley Browner, and all of her friends and family.

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Talia L.TALIA LEWIS
B.A., Health, Culture, and Inequality Studies
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Sharon Desmond, School of Public and Community Health
University Honors Program
Senior Summer Scholars
Magna cum Laude

Talia is proud to graduate from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Health, Culture, and Inequality Studies. Creating her IVSP major has provided her with a significant accomplishment and resulted in an extremely fulfilling and fueling academic experience at the University of Maryland. Talia has had many wonderful academic opportunities while at Maryland. She was awarded a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research fellowship where she spent two years researching heme-transport (human’s main source of iron) with Dr. Iqbal Hamza in the Animal and Avian Science Department. She also received a grant through the Senior Summer Scholars program to conduct research on organ trafficking, which she then turned into her Individual Studies senior project: Organ Trafficking: Constructing a Public Health Approach. In addition to her academic work, Talia served as the vice president of Tzedek, a social justice organization on campus that organized the Walk for Darfur. She also was a Jewish Service in Action Fellow during her senior year, and she led an alternative spring break trip for Maryland students. Talia also formed the Women’s Jewish Alliance at Maryland to provide a community environment and an outlet for discussing women’s issues in the context of Judaism. After graduation, Talia will attend her dream medical school: Ben Gurion Medical School of International Health in Beersheba, Israel. She hopes to become a family doctor committed to serving medically underserved communities both in the U.S. and abroad. Talia has consistently received Dean’s List honors, was a member of the University Honors program, served as a founding member of the IVSP Student Advisory Committee, and was named a Phillip Merrill Presidential Scholar for 2009-2010.

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RYNA LUCKERT
B.A., Advertising
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Eric Zanot, Department of Journalism

Ryna Luckert is graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising. Her senior thesis, completed with Tina Ved, was entitled "KitchenAid: Couture for your Counter." The project sought to advertise the KitchenAid Stand Mixer to a new market segment through a fully designed advertising campaign. Ryna was an intern at the full-service advertising agency MDB Communications, in Washington, D.C.  There she worked extensively with the Creative Services team and helped with the D.C. Lottery advertising campaign. She also worked on the advertising needs of the Washington Nationals, Hunter Douglas, Gepetto Catering, Rapid Advance, and Fannie Mae. Some of Ryna's artwork from MDB Communications was published in the Washington Business Journal. Ryna also interned for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's publishing department.  There she had a wonderful opportunity to create an entire advertising campaign – research, strategy, and the actual advertisements – to draw college-aged audiences to the museum. Her work was so well received that she presented it to the entire Communications Department, and some of her research was used later in a main communications report for the museum. Throughout her college career, she freelance designed for various University of Maryland departments and institutions, including the University of Maryland Libraries, the Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies, and the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Jewish Studies Department. Ryna's dream is to be a Creative Director for a major advertising agency and have a commercial aired during the Superbowl. In the meantime, she is seeking a job within the creative department of an advertising agency, doing what she loves. And if that doesn't work out, she is totally prepared to go to Japan and live off of ramen noodles.

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RACHAEL LEIGH MADDOX
B.A., Cultural Community Studies
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mary Corbin-Sies, American Studies Department
Summa cum Laude

Rachael Maddox is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland's Individual Studies program with a degree in Cultural Community Studies. Cultural Community Studies is an explorative study into how societies reach higher standards of living through cultural or political movements, alternative ownership models, vibrant public spheres, or deep-rooted community. Rachael's senior Capstone project – "Cooperative Housing: A Promising Opportunity for the University of Maryland Community" – is half thesis, half Action Plan & Resource Guide, and relates directly to improving the standard of living for students in College Park, with the goal of acquiring the first Co-op House in College Park by Fall 2010. The highlights of Rachael's college career include participating in the CIVICUS Living & Learning Program; studying abroad in Florence, Italy; community service-learning in New Orleans and Pine Ridge American Indian Reservation on the Alternative Breaks program; interning at the Department of Energy; traveling to Taiwan for an international leadership conference; and her steady involvement in Community Roots – a culturally diverse social justice student group. Rachael earned Dean's List status multiple semesters, as well as two scholarships for high academic achievement – one from Individual Studies and one from her study abroad program. She is graduating Summa cum Laude.  After graduation, Rachael will be working in College Park on continued efforts to establish cooperative housing and also pursuing creative endeavors on the side. A true Individual Studies major at heart, Rachael believes that in her life she will most likely create her own career related to social justice, art, community, education, and loving life. Rachael would like to thank the many academic mentors, life mentors, friends, family and her boyfriend for their continued support, love, and inspiration. She plans on taking their guidance and paying it forward – every ounce of it.

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Kristen M.KRISTEN E. MUI
B.A., Urban Studies and Planning
Faculty Mentor: Dr. James R. Cohen, Urban Studies and Planning School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar
University Honors Program
Summa cum Laude

Kristen Mui is excited to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies and Planning.  Committed to issues of sustainable growth, community development, and public policy, Kristen developed an IVSP program that integrates Architecture, Urban Planning, Sociology, Geography, and Environmental Studies.  Kristen's senior thesis investigated the impact of community gardens in American history in terms of historical context and social impacts.  She used her experience as an intern and volunteer at the Master Peace Community Farm in Riverdale, Maryland, as a basis for original research analyzing the impacts and benefits of community gardens in a modern context.  Her volunteer experience also extends to participating in the University of Maryland English for Speakers of Other Languages Conversation Partners Program, working with international students to practice their English.  Kristen also has a broad range of professional experiences, having worked for the Environmental Finance Center, Prince George's County Planning Department – Environmental Planning Section, and Beyer Blinder Belle – Architects and Planners. Most recently, working at the Environmental Finance Center, Kristen had the opportunity to develop, organize, manage, and execute a community visioning program in Occoquan, Virginia, whose results are being used to amend the Prince William County Comprehensive Plan.  Kristen spent her last semester studying in Copenhagen, Denmark, and will be traveling in Europe for several weeks after the conclusion of the semester. She plans to work within the field of sustainable development for several years and then attend a graduate program in Urban Planning and Policy. Kristen is graduating with perfect 4.0 GPA and has been named a Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar, a prestigious award given to the 25 most successful graduating seniors each year. Kristen is graduating Summa cum Laude, with a citation from the University Honors Program.

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John M. JOHN MURRAY
B.S., Digital Narratives
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Matthew Kirschenbaum, English Department; Dr. Ben A. Shneiderman, Computer Science Department
Jiménez-Porter Writer's House

John Murray will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Digital Narratives, which explores the ways in which computers can help authors rearrange, study, and present stories. Following his graduation as Valedictorian from Walkersville High School, he entered Towson University for his first two years. In the spring of Freshman year, he was appointed senator on the Student Government Association there. His summers included interning for the nonprofit Biodiesel University, researching the Larsen Collection with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, and receiving a Senior Summer Scholars grant to do independent research before his final year. He was in the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship inaugural business start-up boot camp over winter term his final year. While at the University of Maryland, John took up ballroom dancing; co-founded the Archery club; and wrote, directed, and produced his film, War Story. He also wrote a series of blog entries for the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, reviewing dancing and theatre performances. He received a citation for his two years in the Jiménez-Porter Writer's House living-learning program. John presented his senior thesis at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Wisconsin, at the Atlantic Coast Conference Meeting of the Minds in North Carolina, and at Maryland Undergraduate Research Day. He has now accepted a full-time position as a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, and will be working there for the immediate future, starting this June.

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ADANZE OKOROHA
B.S., CulturalConstruction Management
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Miroslaw J. Skibniewski, A. James Clark Chair Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program

Adanze Okoroha is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science degree in Cultural Construction Management. The Cultural Construction Management degree focuses on the study of generic and unique construction planning and coordination principles and methods as they relate to diverse cultural contexts that affect the built environment around the world. Adanze's senior thesis reviews the impact of green construction methods on current contracting practices. As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Adanze also did research on the study of the effects that lighting conditions have on the communication and social behavior of human beings. Adanze has significant leadership experience: she has been an executive for South Hill Area Council, a Senator for the Resident Hall Association, and a mentor for the Office of Multi-ethnic Student Education and America Counts.  In addition to these activities, Adanze has been an intern for a local construction company, where she helped complete the construction of office and residential buildings in Arlington, Virginia. After graduation, Adanze plans to attend graduate school.

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TinaVedTINA VED
B.A., Advertising Dynamics
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Eric Zanot, Department of Journalism

Tina Ved is graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising Dynamics. This degree examined the various relationship systems within the field of Advertising, as well as the impact of these relationships on advertising output as a whole. Tina's senior project is entitled "KitchenAid: Couture for your Counter" and serves as a full advertising campaign – including market research, consumer analysis, and creative realization. Tina's project was done with partner Ryna Luckert to market the KitchenAid Stand Mixer to a completely new market segment. Additional research at the University of Maryland included an evaluation of the current media image of advertising as a field. This was done as a comparison of the advertising agent (the face of the agency in the eyes of the public) as portrayed in the critically acclaimed series Mad Men and the depiction of advertising characters in other popular fiction (movies, books) to better grasp changing cultural trends and views towards advertising. Tina received academic honors and is a regular Dean's list honoree. After graduation, Tina plans on traveling/relocating to the West Coast. She has received internship and job offers in the San Francisco area from various companies, including Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSC); BlueMap, Inc.; 6 Degrees Records; and Trouble Worldwide.

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Phoebe Y.PHOEBE YUNG
B.A., International Political Economy
B.A., Economics
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bartlomiej Kaminski, Department of Government and Politics

Phoebe Yung is graduating from the University of Maryland with Bachelor of Arts degrees in International Political Economy and in Economics. International Political Economy is an interdisciplinary study that examines the intertwined relationship between politics and economics as well as the impact on international relations. Complementing her studies, Phoebe spent a year studying economics at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, one of China's most prestigious universities. The year spent in China directed her senior thesis to researching on China's foreign aid to Africa and its effect on the governance conditions in Africa. Phoebe's internship at the think tank The Brookings Institution made her study of political economy much more comprehensive. As a development intern in the Global Economy and Development Department, not only does she help maintain the vast development and fundraising efforts of the department, she also assists with research on national and international philanthropy.


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Individual Studies Program  Campus Location: 2407 Marie Mount Hall
Appointments: 301.314.0023  Email: individualstudies@umd.edu
IVSP is a degree granting academic program of the Office of Undergraduate Studies