Congratulations to the class of 2022! We are proud to present members from the graduating class with Residential College Senior Awards. Each year, RC faculty and staff submit nominations for students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement during their time at U-M.

Congratulations to these awardees and all the RC seniors for your hard work and contributions during your time here!


Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Creative Arts – The “Robbies”

Established in 2000, to honor the founding Director of the RC, James H. Robertson, the “Robbies” are given to students who have shown a high level of achievement in one of creative arts in the RC. Typically seven to ten graduating seniors who have excelled in Creative Writing, Drama, Music or the Studio Arts over their RC careers receive recognition and a modest stipend. Faculty in the various creative arts programs discuss student names among themselves and put forward nominations.

Vivian Chiao

Student bio coming soon!

Avery Fessenden (Fez)

Hometown: Lake Leelanau, MI

Degree/Major: RC Creative Writing and Literature, RC Drama

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? I will be attending Virginia Tech’s MFA program for creative writing in the poetry track.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? My work as an actor and director in the RC Players and my RC Honors Thesis in poetry.

Anyone you'd like to thank? My parents, for keeping me afloat. Sarah Messer and Kate Mendeloff for being my only poetry and drama professors in my four years here. You couldn’t get rid of me.

Fun Fact: Fez is also an avid supporter of the New England Literature Program and an amateur banjo player!

Kiersten Hoff

Hometown: Ann Arbor

Degree/Major: Arts & Ideas in the Humanities, Classical Civilizations

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? This summer I will be joining a U of M archaeological team in Greece at the excavation sites of Olynthos and Pella, where I will be documenting pottery and learning excavation techniques. During the upcoming year, I will also be preparing to apply to a Master's program for Architecture, and intend to focus on Historic Preservation.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? What are you most proud of I am proud to have achieved my goal of trying almost every type of class at least once. I set out not knowing what I wanted to do and having too many interests, and now I’ve found a prospective career where I will be able to combine my love of history, math, science, and most importantly, art.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I would like to thank Ray, who saw me enter my first year at college and helped to nurture my enthusiasm for making things. I would also like to thank Isaac, who rounded out my college career and pushed me to think deeper about the images I put out into the world.

Alyssa Moore

Hometown: Rochester, MI

Degree/Major: Double-major in Psychology and Creative Writing & Literature; Minor in Community Action and Social Change (CASC)

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? After graduation, I'm looking forward to continuing to pursue my passion for mental health at U-M's School of Social Work! Working with CAPS and hEARt Listens as an undergrad has led me to appreciate the importance of supporting the people around me, and that is what I hope to do with my career—through both social work and stories.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? I have loved the creative writing program at the RC, and the professors and peers that have made it such a welcoming and supportive community. Over these past four years, my creative writing major has been a really important outlet for me to explore questions about myself, questions about the world, and any other wacky ideas that come to mind. I'm glad to have had the chance to publish a short story, "Clemency," in the 2020 Edition of the RC Review, as well as write an honors thesis inspired by that same story.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I'd like to thank Doc Matt for his continuous support as a professor and thesis advisor, as well as all of my fellow-creative writing students for the opportunity to learn from them and read their amazing work! 

Maya Simonte

Student bio coming soon!

Esther Sun

Student bio coming soon!

Cielle Waters-Umfleet

Hometown: Jenison, MI

Degree/Major: Creative Writing

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? After graduation, I will be going to the UP to enjoy its natural beauty and continue my job search. I hope one day to be able to live and work abroad to expand my horizons and further my foreign language abilities.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? I am most proud of my service learning work with the Ginsberg Center, serving as editor-in-chief of What The F Magazine, being awarded High Honors for my creative writing thesis.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I would like to thank Laura Thomas for encouraging me to join the RC and guiding me through my time as a creative writing major.

Darby A. Williams

Hometown: St. Thomas, USVI

Degree/Major: RC Drama

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? I will be performing in Shakespeare in the Arb over the summer, and working as a docent at the UM Museum of Natural History. I intend to take a year off between Undergrad and Grad school to work and write. I recently accepted a scholarship to MBU’s Shakespeare and Performance MFA + MLitt cohort, I'll be joining them in the fall of 2023!

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? I am most proud of my time working as an actor and director in the RC Drama program, as well as my time with the RC Players. Furthermore, I’ve had an incredible time writing for the Michigan Daily, and the experience and exposure I gained there were incomparable.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I would like to thank Professor Kate Mendeloff for being such a loyal and caring mentor over the past three years. I would also like to acknowledge professor Martin Walsh for sharing my love of the Bard's works, and for supporting and teaching me even after retiring from the RC. Finally, I'd like to thank my First-Year Writing Professor Leslie Stainton for encouraging me to find my voice as a writer. My work in your class changed my perspective on the world and my place in it.

Fun Facts: Darby Williams is a graduating third-year majoring in RC Drama with a minor in Creative Writing, and a self-dubbed fool (of the Shakespearean creed). She has held a lifelong passion for theatre and literature, which later spurred her interest in Shakespearean theatre. During her time in the RC Drama program, she served as an actor, director, and teaching assistant.

She has been active in the RC Spanish program, completing the program her freshman year, and working as a conversational tutor during her sophomore year. She also interned with En Nuestra Lengua through SLIP, where she taught elementary school students Spanish conversational skills.

Darby also works with the RC Players, having served on the directing team of two full-length shows, including RCP's first full-length Shakespearean play. She has also worked as a writer, producer, (and of course) actor for countless RCP productions. Darby is an active member of NERDS (Not Even Really Drama Students) where she received the coveted award of "Best Brooklyn Accent." Shockingly, she has no affiliation with NYC.

Darby has also been heavily involved in the creative writing scene; she has worked as an arts writer and columnist for the Campus Culture beat and the Statement section of The Michigan Daily (respectively). Her creative nonfiction has been published in Hippocampus Magazine, and Minerva Rising Press, where her work was later nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has also received a Hopwood Award in the First and Second Year Creative Nonfiction Category. She served as a writing intern at Study Breaks Magazine in the summer of 2021 and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for The New Twenties Magazine.

In her free time, Darby enjoys running, singing, and Irish Dancing. She is an avid fan of dinosaurs and is the Co-president of the Umich Squirrel Feeding Club. She has held 3-4 jobs for the duration of her college career. In addition to her work as a writer and tutor, Darby has worked as a barista at Starbucks and a character actor at Neverland Entertainment.
Darby intends to take a year off to work, after which she will be attending MBU's Shakespeare and Performance program at the American Shakespeare Center to pursue an MLitt and an MFA. 

Award for Outstanding Service in Community Engagement – The “Tommies”

The Residential College established these awards in 2006 to honor former RC Director, Thomas Weisskopf. The “Tommies” are given annually to students who have made substantial contributions to the communities around them – whether to East Quad, to the University campus, or to communities in the region or beyond – during their undergraduate careers.

Katharine Boasberg

Hometown: Washington, DC

Degree/Major: BA Social Theory & Practice 

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? After graduation, I will be traveling to Europe with a friend. I then plan to move to New York City to work for a social justice or prison abolitionist organization before attending law school in a few years.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? The RC has taught me what it means to be a positive and productive community member. The nurturing environment gave me the confidence to take academic risks, become a more mindful and engaged citizen, and challenge the status quo under which I was raised.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I would like to thank Virginia Murphy for nominating me for this award. I am also thankful to all of the Residential College faculty for their unconditional support and deep commitment to my learning. Lastly, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Heather Thompson and Becca Pickus, two instructors without whom I would not have had the courage, knowledge, or access to pursue criminal justice reform or decarceration activism.

Fun Facts: Katharine Boasberg is graduating with a degree in Social Theory & Practice with honors and membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Society. During her time in the Residential College, she has concentrated on criminal legal reform and alternatives to incarceration. She joined the Prison Creative Arts Project and conducted research for the Carceral State Project to document conditions of confinement in Michigan prisons. Katharine also started a student organization, Parole Preparation Project Michigan, that helps prepare incarcerated people for their parole hearings and works with them to develop comprehensive plans for returning home. She has applied this knowledge at summer internships, where she investigated cases for Public Defenders, did mitigation for Capital Habeas Federal Defenders, and received the Davis Project for Peace grant to aid expungement efforts in Washtenaw County under the new Clean Slate legislation. In her senior thesis, she demonstrated the efficacy of prison theater programs in facilitating sustained reentry, decreasing violence, and empowering formerly incarcerated people. 

Maria Sobrino

Hometown: Grand Blanc, MI

Degree/Major: Anthropology, Social Theory and Practice (double major)

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? I will be working remotely in New York City in a digital communications role at the Michigan Student Power Alliance, a non-profit organization that supports the work of student organizers for solidarity and justice in Michigan. In the next few years, I hope to attend graduate school in anthropology and pursue a career in museum curatorship.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? In my time in the RC, I am most proud of the work I did in courses that challenged my skill sets and exposed me to new ideas, fields, and ways of working in the world. I owe it to the interdisciplinary spirit of the RC for providing an environment that encouraged me and made it possible for me to take classes in the practical arts, such as bookmaking and printmaking. In these classes, I learned how to express myself in visual forms I had never considered myself capable of before, and they provided me with material traces of art and ideas that expressed all I had learned within and without the classroom at the University of Michigan.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I would like to thank Teresa Sánchez-Snell for being an invaluable teacher, mentor, and source of support throughout my time at the RC; I am so thankful for the work that she does in our community. Due to her encouragement, I joined the executive board of a literary and arts publication that directly set me on the path to my future career goals. I would also like to thank Mabel Rodriguez, Olga López-Cotín, Nora Krinitsky, Ian Robinson, Becca Pickus, and Toby Millman for their invaluable courses in the RC that have shaped my academic career, understanding of the world, and ability to excel in my past and future work.

Fun Facts: I am a double major in anthropology and Social Theory and Practice, and as part of my Social Theory and Practice capstone project I developed a thesis on visual politics and American (inter)nationalism. 

Esther Sun

Student bio coming soon!

Arjun Thakkar

Hometown: Wilmette, IL

Degree/Major: History Major, Spanish and Computer Science Minors

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? I will be working as a Data Journalism Intern with the Detroit Free Press this summer. Beyond this summer, I want to continue exploring opportunities to produce compelling stories with a human touch. I know I'm not done with school and that at some point I will want to get a Master's degree in the humanities.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? The highlight of my time in the RC and at U-M has been growing and bonding with students with a wide range of passions and fields of study. I'm grateful for all the spontaneous interactions I've had with my peers, whether it was bumping into an acquaintance by the piano lounge or talking late into the night with friends while playing board games.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I want to thank my language, writing, and history professors who’ve allowed me to explore my interests. It is because of these mentors that I’m driven to explore the most nuanced, complex, and interesting subjects through accessible language. I also value the support of family, including my grandmother and late grandfather, my Baa and Dada, for being aspirational role models in my everyday life.

Fun Facts: I've been a tutor since my freshman year with PALMA and have loved having the chance to teach and mentor my tutees. Whether I was providing English lessons or computer science debugging support, I hope my sessions made a difference for my students.

I've written for The Michigan Daily since my freshman year, primarily writing about the U-M administration and specifically sustainability policy and climate change issues on campus.

I was president of the University of Michigan chapter of the Hindu Students Council and have enjoyed facilitating dialogue about Hinduism and celebrating festivals with the South Asian community on campus. 

Award for Exceptional Achievement in a Foreign Language - The “Janets”

This award, inaugurated in 2010 and renamed in 2015 to celebrate Janet Hegman Shier, former head of the RC German Program and Director and Faculty Administrator of RC Deutsches Theater, is given to graduating seniors who have shown outstanding accomplishments in the mastery of foreign languages, including a deep engagement with a language and its culture beyond proficiency, the active use of a second language in the RC or surrounding communities through community engagement programs and/or the arts, and/or a serious engagement with more than one foreign language. Language faculty often consult with each other about nominees and students may be nominated for more than one language.

Daniel Haw Rong Chen

Hometown: Hsinchu City, Taiwan

Degree/Major: Economics, International Studies

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? I will be starting my career as a Staff Analyst in a local economic consulting company that helps attorneys with litigation, anti-trust, and intellectual property cases. At least for the next two years, I will continue to stay and work in Ann Arbor until my eventual return to Taiwan or plans for grad school.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? The biggest reason why I wanted to join the RC is because of the Intensive Japanese Program. I'm proud that I was able to build a strong foundation in Japanese at the RC that allowed me to further improve and study abroad over my freshman summer at Kyushu University, eventually achieving my goal of passing the JLPT N1 exam before my graduation. I'm also proud to be recognized and accepted as a tutor for the Japanese program and to assist other students who are also passionate about learning the language!

Anyone you'd like to thank? I would like to especially thank Okuno Sensei for all of her encouragements throughout my time as a student and as a tutor for the Japanese program.

Fun Facts: I was born in Toronto, Canada and grew up in Taiwan as a dual citizen of the two countries. I always say I'm from Taiwan but I'm actually studying here as a Canadian. 

Eva McAlister López

Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI

Degree/Major: French & Francophone Studies and Biopsychology, Cognition & Neuroscience

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? I am planning to move to France to teach English for a year in the public schools. I have spent four years studying bilingual literacy development in a research lab, four years studying under phenomenal language instructors, and 17 years before that in a bilingual home of my own. All this to say that I am thrilled by the opportunity to finally take on a new role in the bilingual world, to dive deep into the counterpart and equal of learning, which is teaching.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? My time here can be strung together into a collection of odd-fitting pieces, different experiences and passions that at first seemed to have no order—and this scared me. But I let myself chase after these sporadic interests regardless, and I've come to see that they have coalesced in an unexpected harmony, with time and intentionality that was there all along. My Spanish background brought me to PALMA, which bled into my literacy development research with bilinguals, which twisted into my love of French literature and film, which has always found a way to come back in shades of linguistics and neuroscience.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I am grateful for Elissa’s small reading circles that made the long, daunting 19th-century French texts feel like the stuff of exciting book clubs. And I am in awe of the richness of Catherine Brown’s classes, which I like to think of as life advice that still accompanies me to this day. They taught me how to open up conversations and gently break them down, how to bake sourdough, and give my writer-self a little more credit.

Fun Facts: During my time at the university, I have also discovered the joys of taking apart old clothes and sewing new wardrobe inventions, of urban gardening and food accessibility initiatives, and of strapping into my hiking backpack any chance I get. 

Gabriana Farah

Hometown: Bloomfield Hills, MI

Degree/Major: Majors: Neuroscience and Romance Languages & Literatures. Minor: Music

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? I will be attending medical school.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? I am most proud of my experiences in the RC and all that they have taught me. From language classes to music classes under the instruction of a compassionate team of professors, I feel empowered to continue my apprenticeship in these disciplines.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have valuable relationships with professors and classmates alike.

Fun Facts: I have learned invaluable skills about myself and the world around me through the arts and humanities classes at the RC. 

Hayden Graves

Student bio coming soon!

Isabella Panse

Hometown: Vollbuettel, Lower Saxony (Germany) and Lake Orion, MI

Degree/Major: Biochemistry B.S.

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? I will be working as a research technician in Dr. Helms' inherited cardiomyopathy research lab for my gap year after graduation. I am planning on applying to medical school this year and I hope to become a physician-scientist in the future.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? During my time in the RC, I passed German and Spanish proficiency exams, took readings courses in both languages, RC chamber music, and the refugee narratives mini-course.

During my time at UM, I was principal clarinetist of the Michigan Pops Orchestra, volunteered with Child Life at Motts Children's hospital, taught introductory organic chemistry labs, facilitated organic chemistry study groups, and was the co-president of the Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program. For the past three years, I have worked in an inherited cardiomyopathy research lab, and completed my honors biochemistry thesis with highest honors.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I would like to thank my family and friends for all of their support throughout my college career! I would also like to thank my wonderful RC professors: Leslie Stainton, Sandra Nunez, Olga López-Cotín, Katri Ervamaa, and Karein Goertz. Thank you for all of your mentorship and guidance!

Fun Facts: My honors thesis focused on studying cardiomyocyte maturation and lineage specification in induced pluripotent stem cell cardiomyocytes. 

Maria Sobrino

Please see Maria's bio in the Janets!

The Spirit of the RC Award – The “Charlie”

Established in 2013 to honor former RC Director, the Charlie is awarded to the member of the senior class who best exhibits the animating spirit of the RC as defined by a demonstrated commitment to the RC and its mission in undergraduate education. She or he or they has embraced the values associated with the liberal arts and a well-rounded education; has taken full advantage of all that the RC has to offer and has encouraged others to do the same; has played a significant leadership role as a part of this community; and has excelled academically.

Taranbir Kaur

See her bio above in the Robbies!

The Emerging Writers Award

The Emerging Writers Award was established in 2014 to recognize, nurture and encourage creative writers in the Residential College’s creative writing program who demonstrate excellence in creative writing but have not previously received a writing award recognizing their writing achievements.

Marlon Rajan

Hometown: New York City

Degree/Major: Creative Writing

Where will you be following graduation? Or where do you hope to find yourself? Starting in May I'll be living with my girlfriend, Zoey, and our three cats in Jersey City, NJ.

What are you most proud of from your time in the RC and at U-M? I'm most proud of my ambition when it came to taking RC classes! I tried to take as many as I could fit in my schedule, and I was able to take photography with Isaac, sculpture and furniture with Ray, as well as bookbinding with Toby. Their teachings helped me in classes outside of their own and broadened my ability to problem-solve.

Anyone you'd like to thank? I'd like to thank all the faculty and staff that took the time to get to know me as an individual over my four years. I've learned so much from them, and I hope to carry that with me in my future endeavors.

Fun Facts: Marlon Rajan (they/them) is using their experience as an RC Creative Writing major to further pursue their passion for storytelling through visual and physical means. They hope to work with creatives on projects involving wearable art and graphic design as a freelance creative consultant. Marlon's work can be found on their website,
Photo by! 

Elizabeth Schriner

Student bio coming soon!

Congratulations to these awardees, and to all graduates of the RC class of 2021! Go Blue! and go RC!