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Current Staff Spotlight Winners


Amanda Krugliak

Amanda Krugliak, Assistant Director, Creative Programming, Arts Curator Institute for the Humanities and Dean Andrew Martin

Amanda Krugliak graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Art. After graduating, she headed west to pursue her creative outlets, eventually putting down roots in California. She spent 18 years in San Francisco, pursuing her creative talents as an artist and performer, where her performances focused on the issues of women, standing up for them, and giving them a voice. Amanda also was the opening act for many performers, including Cyndi Lauper.

Upon her return to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, Amanda taught for a while but contemplated how she could give back to the university and the arts based on her background and experiences in California.

First, she freelanced with the Institute for the Humanities and then became its arts curator eight years ago. Her programs and exhibitions are internationally recognized, and she’s taken exhibitions out to the streets, e.g., graffiti project. You will find various exhibitions showcased throughout the year in Thayer Hall.

Her nomination recognized her work for the university’s Bicentennial celebration, curating Professor Kerstin Barndt’s “Object Lesson” exhibit in the former Ruthven Museum Library. Her nominator, Shery Sytsema-Geiger praised her for “her tireless lengths to assist Kerstin in getting the exhibit organized, curated, and finished on time for its opening on October 12, 2017. Her tireless dedication and support to Kerstin ensured not only a successful opening, but also an enduring tribute to the university’s museum collections from the last 200 years.”

Her most memorable experience at U-M is collaborating with Jason De Leon “on the exhibition ‘State of Exception’, based upon his Undocumented Migration Project. . . that process over five years working together, the commitment, everything I learned.”

When asked about her purpose and defining connection to her job, Amanda states, “I'm deeply passionate about art and what art can do, how it can effect change in our community, offer creative solutions, offer a space for informed discussions about the challenges that face us institutionally and in society. The arts can ignite research, and together art and research can make an imprint in the world. I also really care about the university, I'm attached. I'm an alumna, as are others in my family. So, for me, it's meaningful that I can contribute to the University's present and future through my work, it's what I can bring to the table.”

This is what motivates Amanda, “I'm interested and excited by what other people are doing, what they have to say, taking the time to have those conversations. . . what others are thinking about and working on, those varying perspectives. . . whether it is a scholar or student, or staff. That excites me, inspires me, to then think about how to connect the dots, what can we do to engage people through the arts, that reach. . . to have the greatest impact. I like thinking about how to make a project ‘light up,’ the next step, the rippling of a project, how to make things happen.”

People would be surprised to know that Amanda plays the harp, and if she were a flavor of ice cream she would be butter pecan with chocolate sauce on top. You might also see her grabbing lunch at Knights. On a spontaneous day off, you might find Amanda eating breakfast at Zola’s with her daughter, catching a matinee at the Michigan, impulse buying at the Treasure Mart, drinking green tea latte at the Lab, staring at her favorite Diebenkorn at UMMA, running through the "Wave Field" by Maya Lin on North Campus, attending an art opening, lecture or poetry reading if there is one, or watching Netflix in her jammies.

Amanda’s advice to a new employee is: “Walk with your head up when you cross the Diag, so you can see what's ahead, so that you don't miss anything. . . like running into someone and having an amazing conversation, learning about something happening on campus, or seeing something new you hadn't noticed, or in a new way. Get out of your building some part of the day! Remember one thing leads to another, all the steps we take and the relationships we make. . . be open to the possibility of things, new ways to see, I mean, why not?”

Azumi Ann Takata

Born in Japan and raised in sunny California, Azumi Ann Takata (or Ann to those of us on campus) came to Michigan in 1994 fresh out of graduate school. She was hired as the Japan specialist for the Department of Sociology, but in her 20-plus years at the university she has worn many hats. In addition to faculty positions within Sociology and the International Institute’s Center for Japanese Studies (CJS), Ann also worked with Michigan Medicine as a medical interpreter for Japanese patients, and with student services for CJS.

When the International Institute (II) combined its centers’ student services into II Academic Student Services, Ann made the transition to Graduate Academic Services Coordinator—seamlessly. And the depth of her institutional knowledge, willingness to share resources, and strong work ethic are traits highly revered, and exemplified throughout her nomination letters. “When situations are at their most complex,” notes a colleague, “Ann manages to juggle multiple options until everything is in place to benefit our students.”

It’s the rewards that come from helping students that Ann finds most gratifying, and being on the front lines is what keeps her here. She enjoys the direct connections developed within student services while still being involved with the Center for Japanese Studies via the Japanese Studies Masters of Arts degree—one of six masters of arts degrees currently offered through the II.

“The Center for Japanese Studies will always be a place near and dear to me,” she says. “It represents where I’m from, my academic training, and what I’m most passionate about.”

When not helping grad students at the II, Ann can probably be found in one of two places: singing in her church choir, something she’s enjoyed since middle school; or having adventures with her dog Penny.

Looking back on the career paths she’s had at LSA, Ann can’t help but notice, “I really ended up in an ideal job.” We think so, too, Ann.


Azumi Ann Takata and Dean Andrew Martin

International Institute Undergraduate Academic Services Team

Pictured (left to right) Kelsey Szpara, Bryna Worner, Sofia Carlsson, Nataša Gruden-Alajbegović, Folaké Graves
Article by: Debbie Walls and Bethany Christoff
Photographs by: International Institute Undergraduate Academic Services Team Members

In recognition of their initiative, tireless efforts, and passion for providing top quality student support, the International Institute Undergraduate Academic Services team has been chosen as the recipient of the Winter 2017 LSA Staff Spotlight Team Award. This innovative team provides support and guidance for over 575 students through interdisciplinary programs that allow students the opportunity and freedom to create a personalized path with a global theme or regional focus.

Team members include Sofia Carlsson, Folaké Graves, Kelsey Szpara, and Bryna Worner.

Folaké Graves has been with the International Institute for nine years and currently serves as an undergraduate academic advisor, as well as coordinates the International Studies student fellowships and International Studies Honors Plan. Folaké loves to travel and often serves as personal travel agent for her family and friends! Sofia Carlsson is a native of Sweden, has traveled extensively, and has worked in three different countries before settling in Michigan. As an undergraduate academic advisor, her key areas of responsibility include student advising, curriculum, and program coordination. Kelsey Szpara comes to the International Institute with a wealth of work experience including teaching at the high school level and working for an international law firm network and the LSA Academic Auditor's Office. Kelsey is an undergraduate academic advisor and serves as a liaison in collaboration with program coordinators in the International Institute. Bryna Worner provides a valuable perspective as a recent graduate of University of Michigan where she triple majored in International Studies, Political Science, and Spanish. As the administrative assistant for the Program in International and Comparative Studies and the Donia Human Rights Center, Bryna is responsible for a number of new student service initiatives that have greatly increased student and alumni engagement.

The LSA International Institute (II) is home to 12 undergraduate programs that pull faculty and resources from across the University. The II website states: “We Bring the World to Michigan and Send Michigan Around The World.” As you can imagine, managing and coordinating such diverse programs requires organization, communication, and teamwork. This collaborative and efficient team hits the mark every time. Their enthusiasm and commitment to their students is infectious. The team recently presented at the 2017 Advising Conference on Advising in an Ever-Evolving Institute to highlight the myriad of opportunities available to students with an interest in a global educational experience and spoke about overcoming challenges associated with centralizing academic services across the International Institute.

Study abroad is strongly encouraged for International Institute students, even though it is not required. However, if the International Institute’s Undergraduate Academic Services Team were granted one wish from President Schlissel, it would be to open U-M satellite campuses all over the world to allow every U-M student the opportunity to have a study, research, or internship abroad experience. Wouldn’t it be nice if all students who wanted to go abroad were able to achieve that goal? Many students are limited by financial constraints, and these advisors work one-on-one with their students to find funding opportunities that fit their individual needs.

When the team was asked about what makes them work so well together, their faces lit up with smiles and pride. They noted their complementary balance of personalities, their collective interest in working to identify new ways to serve students, and their sincere interest in including stellar student employees in programmatic goals. The team was also quick to compliment Nataša Gruden-Alajbegović, manager of the Global Projects Cluster, who provides outstanding leadership by encouraging the team to celebrate each other’s successes and supporting a genuine work-life balance. When not in the office, you can find the team enjoying events such as the Ann Arbor Color Vibe 5K Run or Shakespeare in the Arb! 

Pictured (left to right) Sofia Carlsson, Bryna Worner, Kelsey Szpara, Folaké Graves
Pictured (left to right) Kelsey Szpara, Bryna Worner, Folaké Graves