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Graduate Studies - Adriana Ruvalcaba

California State University, Fullerton

Graduate Students Writing About Their Research

Adriana Ruvalcaba MA, American Studies

Is a student in the Master of Arts in American Studies program. A painter since childhood, Adriana draws on her visual instincts in her graduate studies. Adriana is a winner of a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from the CSU system, providing support for her application and preparation for study for a doctorate. She plans to investigate memory and representation, as part of the cultural question; in particular, she will study controversies surrounding artists’ intentionality in, and audience interpretations of, visual representations of cultural trauma. Adriana writes of her trip to Washington D.C. (funded by the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship) to attend the American Studies Association annual national conference and to tour George Washington University (where she might study for the doctorate), meeting with faculty there.

I'm off to the nation's capitol! I'm going to Washington, D.C. with my mentor Prof. Pam Steinle, our trip has a double purpose: visit the George Washington campus and attend the American Studies Association annual national conference. We flew all day, and I was rather tired by the end of the day. We arrived in DC a little shy of 7pm. We stayed at the Four Points hotel in the downtown area which was a couple of blocks away from the conference hotel.

This was a very long but exiting day for me. We started off by registering at the conference hotel. Then followed that by going to visit the George Washington University campus. Prof. Steinle and I took the Metro (subway system) to "Foggy Bottom." It was about a 15 min ride and the metro dropped us off right into the perimeter of the campus. The trip was intended to acquaint me with the environment of the school. I loved it!

This was my first trip to the east coast, and the weather was really surprising. I can't believe how cold it was! It's a good thing I went prepared.

The campus itself was very beautiful. Architecturally speaking it is composed of a mixture of historic turn of the century buildings as well as new developments. It was also good to see that the student body appeared to be ethnically diverse. Another key aspect about the university and the city in general is that it is pedestrian friendly. One could easily walk and or take public transportation as a means of commuting.

Prof. Steinle and I had lunch at what appeared to be a "hot spot" on campus. I believe the place was called "Tonics"; we were attracted by the tables that lined the outside street, and the heavy traffic of people going in and out of the venue.

After lunch, we headed back to our hotel because I had a 5:30 p.m. meeting with Prof. Chad Heap (he is the Graduate Director for the American studies program at GW). Our meeting was held at the Renaissance Hotel (conf. hotel).

I initially had assumed that my meeting with Prof. Heap would have lasted about 30 minutes; by the end of our meeting we had spent an hour and fifteen minutes discussing the program and the prospect of me going there. I was provided with a big range of information: from funding packages offered to PhD students to the

social and academic climate and prosperity of their graduates.

Later that evening I attended two receptions where I was able to network with individuals across the country. The first function was the 'Welcoming Reception,' this was attended by faculty, students, and independent scholars and it was held at the National Museum of American Indians. At this function I spoke to several individuals—in particular students from Purdue University, and an international student from China.

Then after that event I headed over to the American Studies Students Committee reception. At this function I was able to network with students from University of Minnesota, and an independent scholar.

This was the only really relaxed day that I had in D.C. as I was not that rushed for doing things. It was the day I actually spent acquainting myself with the city itself, as well as visiting the national monuments. It will remain a memorable day in my life for years to come. Seeing both the Vietnam and Lincoln memorial in person was unbelievable. A unique thing that happened while at the Lincoln memorial is that when I had walked out onto the top steps of the memorial I heard the sound of helicopters, three to be exact. The crowd that had gathered pointed out that it was Marine One, and carrying in it was President Barack Obama. That was so amazing!

After a visit to the National Mall, a colleague of mine who is in the MA American Studies program here at CSUF and I walked over to the White House (she's on the AMST students committee and is co-chair). We stopped by at a local coffee shop and got hot chocolate and decided to enjoy our beverages at the front gate of the historic home as the sun set (along with the chilly weather).

I begin another long day. Early in the morning I head over with Prof. Steinle to attend a roundtable presentation on Transnational studies. This session turned out to be great and extremely informative. Also, it should be noted that two previous Casanova scholars participated in the actual presentation.

After the roundtable I met with one of the presenters - Prof. Elaine Peña. We had coffee and discussed the program at GW and her work: current and past. She highlighted the diversity of academic approaches one can take within the program. Case in point intersectionality is the main reason why I will be applying to their program. Prof. Peña is a scholar I would be interested to work with in the future. I am very excited to apply to the GW program.

Later that evening I attended the 60th anniversary reception for American Quarterly. This reception was rather important to me as I helped promote and organize their visual displays. I also was honored along with previous and current Editorial Assistants for the journal.

I finally return home!