For January 2020, we are spotlighting two very impressive American Culture majors, Arabella Delgado and Katrina Stalcup. These two students have shown incredible dedication to our department and to their academic careers. As the founders of the American Culture Club, they have exhibited a strong passion for American Culture and have contributed to the growth of our department. Arabella and Katrina are graduating in the spring of 2020, and we wish them the best of luck in all of their future endeavors!

Interview with Arabella Delgado

 

1. Major(s)/Minor(s)

American Culture and Anthropology

2. Expected Graduation Year

May 2020

3. Where did you grow up? What are your interests/ hobbies?

I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas (and I really miss the warm weather).

Outside of class, I'm involved in a few student organizations. I play viola in the Michigan Pops Orchestra, which is completely student-run. I'm a Campus Day Leader through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. I give philanthropic tours for the Office of University Development. I also give tours and meet with students through my job with LSA recruitment. Most of my interests revolve around music and giving tours of the university.

Also, I volunteer with the English Language Institute as a Conversation Circle Facilitator and I absolutely love it. We meet for one hour a week and talk about anything related to American culture. I'm pretty sure I learn so much more from the people in my group than they learn from. It's a great way to meet amazing people and learn a little bit more about other cultures. 

4. Why did you choose American Culture as your major?

I initially chose it because I was fascinated by everything in the major. Every time I look at the course guide, my immediate reaction is "I want to take all of these classes." It's a struggle to only choose two classes a semester. 

American Culture is also a field of study that chooses to be inclusive of everyone. As a POC from the U.S. - Mexico border, I am very underrepresented on this campus. American Culture offers classes that talk about the things that really matter to me personally. I can take "Latina Women Women in the U.S." or "American Immigration." It's really a department that makes students from different backgrounds feel welcome. It reminds us that our lives and our experiences are worth talking about and are important to academic conversations.

5. What was your favorite AC class that you would recommend and why?

I absolutely loved AMCULT 201 (American Values) and I would recommend it to anyone interested in AC. I was lucky enough to take it with Kristin Hass in a 20-person class over the summer after my freshman year. I went into it thinking that this was just an interesting class that this could count for distribution credit. After about a month, I realized that I wanted to major in American Culture.

The class forces you to question our understanding of American culture and how history is constructed. It makes you question the parts of American culture that we take at face value. 

6. What are your future plans after graduation, and how did the AC major help you achieve these goals?

I'm currently applying to graduate programs in American Studies. If you told me as a freshman that this is what I would be doing right now, I would've thought you were crazy. I just genuinely love everything my experience with AC here and I want to eventually make a career out of it. Now, I just have to get into a school!

7. What was your experience for the Summer Honors Fellowship?

It gave me a taste of what it's like to do full-time research. It was just really nice to have the time and resources to really focus on my thesis. I liked being in a space where there were students from the social sciences, humanities, and natural science. I was also really lucky that I was able to do it with Katrina. 

8. How did the AC Student Organization start? What are your goals for the club (what would you want it to look like in 5 years)? Also, what is the contact info for someone who wants to join the club or get involved?

The AC Student Org really started from the fact that I didn't know that many other majors. There are so many classes offered and many of them are filled with non-majors, so it can be hard to find the people also majoring in American Culture. I'm also an Anthropology major and I would say the same is true. The difference is they have a well-established club that really focuses on bringing majors, and anyone else interested in Anthropology, together. I wanted to be able to do that over here as well. I also wouldn't have been able to plan anything if it weren't for Katrina and Scott, so I'm glad that they were just as enthusiastic about the idea as I was. 

The goal is to provide a space where students can engage with the department outside of the classroom and connect with other students. It might sound kind of simple, but I think it would help make the student community in American Culture a bit stronger. 

If anyone is interested in joining, they can contact either me or Katrina directly!

9. What is your favorite memory from college?

That's such a great question, but I have so many favorite moments! I think the one that sticks out the most is when I met one of my best friends. Oscar lived down the hall from me freshman year, but we didn't really talk to each other. I remember around late October I was desperately missing Mexican food and the Ann Arbor options weren't cutting it for me. After complaining on the phone to my mother, she sent me an excessive amount of food. Tamales, tortillas, chile con queso... you name it, she sent it. The problem was, I couldn't fit everything in my mini-fridge. I warmed up everything in my dorm room and walked down the halls offering some to people. Oscar immediately recognized the smell and peaked his head out of his room. 

A bunch of people ended up coming to his room as I passed around tamales. Many of them didn't know that you aren't supposed to eat the corn husk and tried eating it like a burrito. Oscar and I started laughing because we couldn't believe that they all thought that we regularly eat corn husks. After that, we completely bonded and I can't imagine not having him in my life.

Interview with Katrina Stalcup

 

1. Major(s)/Minor(s)

American Culture Major

2. Expected Graduation Year

2020

3. Where did you grow up? What are your interests/ hobbies?

I grew up on the east side of Detroit. In my free time, I like to read books, listen to music, and play with my cat Skye.

4. Why did you choose American Culture as your major?

I chose American Culture as my major because it was the meeting place of all my academic interests. I wanted to continue learning about the intersections of social and economic marginalization. My AC classes have taught me how to understand these concepts together and in conjunction with other forms of injustice.

5. What was your favorite AC class that you would recommend and why?

My favorite AC class was AMCULT 411, "Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music". This class, taught by Dean Hubbs, was incredibly interesting because I learned a lot about the connections between class and queerness through doing close analytical work with country music songs.

6. What are your future plans after graduation, and how did the AC major help you achieve these goals?

After graduation, I want to take a gap year and work, then my future plans are to go back to school to get my Masters or Ph.D. in American Studies. I want to focus on class theory through a Marxist perspective. 

7. What was your experience for the Summer Honors Fellowship?

The Honors Summer Fellowship was a great opportunity for me to conduct research during the summer and work with faculty. It was great working with a cohort of students in different areas of study because we got to learn so much from one another, which in the end, hugely positively impacted my thesis.

8. How did the AC Student Organization start? What are your goals for the club (what would you want it to look like in 5 years)? Also, what is the contact info for someone who wants to join the club or get involved?

Arabella started the American Culture Club and I was connected to reach out to her by the AC Advisor, Scott Larson. We met up, and we were both very passionate about connecting AC students to one another. In 5 years, I would hope that the AC Club is still going strong and that more students decide to become AC majors and minors. The concepts we learn about in AC are not just interesting to learn about, but they make us all better people. We learn about the complexities and relationships between different identities through a critical historical lens. I hope this becomes something that more people over time want to learn more about. 

9. What is your favorite memory from college?

My favorite college memory was meeting Iris Morales, who is an activist, writer, and director. In her youth, she was a member of the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican activist group in the 1970s. She worked endlessly to address sexism and machismo in activist spaces. I read her book for a class and I was blown away to meet her in person. 

10. Anything else you’d like to add?

If anyone studying AC has a passion for exploring a topic related to American culture, they should think about writing an honors thesis. It seems daunting, but it is rewarding and a great way to push yourself academically while also being supported by other students and faculty.