Ted Shapiro Awards
Six American Studies majors were selected to receive a Ted Shapiro Memorial Award for 2009. They were honored at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 24th. This year also marked the 25th anniversary of this award. Welcoming remarks were presented by Dean Jim Glaser. Mr. and Mrs. Aaron and Elaine Shapiro were present along with family, friends, faculty and past winners.
Ikenna Acholonu, a junior majoring in American Studies, is hoping to study media, race, and politics in their relation to the 2008 presidential campaign. He hopes to conduct interviews with those who participated in the campaign and members of the media to discuss the impact of Barack Obama’s race on others perception of him in different cities, such as Chicago and Washington, DC. He also hopes to examine the archives of two major newspapers during the candidacy and campaign. This experience will hopefully help Ikenna as he plans to use this topic as his senior thesis.
Alejandro Gomez, a sophomore majoring in American Studies, plans to pursue his talents as an American fiction writer by traveling to four different locations and conducting interviews with citizens of these cities, which will then be turned into a series of short stories regarding the American experience. He is planning on traveling to Detroit, MI, Atlanta, GA, Bend, OR, and Chicago, IL.
Julia Mitarotondo, a junior currently abroad in Barcelona, Spain, is hoping to expose sharp contrasts in class in her hometown of Cutchogue, New York, as well as honing her photography skills, by taking and compiling photographs of both the year-long residents and the wealthy summer vacation population. She is also hoping to extend her project to capture class differences in the neighboring North Fork of Long Island and the South Fork of the Hamptons.
Duncan Pickard, a junior double majoring in American Studies and History, will compile an ethnography of African-American dockworkers in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He is hoping to travel to Santo Domingo and compare and contrast the contemporary manifestations of African traditions in the Dominican from the 16th century. He is hoping to incorporate his research into his senior thesis on African American communities in Latin American countries.
Benjamin Smith, a junior majoring in American Studies, is hoping to incorporate his study abroad experience with the IHP’s Health and Community program by taking his visits to different countries, as well as his extended stay in South Africa, to investigate race-based health disparities. He is hoping to achieve this through direct observation and melding it into a mixed-media project, with a detailed travel journal as well as physical objects.
Jessica Sofio, a junior majoring in American Studies, who has an impressive and extensive background in Latino Studies, plans to incorporate her past experience and research as well as new research to compile a mixed- media dissertation on various Latino identities in the Somerville area. She hopes to integrate into Somerville’s public sector, as well as interview different types of Latino community members, from first-generation immigrants to community organizers to youth. She hopes to use her findings on critical race theory to write her senior thesis.