2022- 2023 Cohort
Kassandra Castillo (she/hers/ella) is a first-year PhD student in the American Studies and Culture program at WSU. She hails from the border city of El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso with a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies. In addition, she earned her master’s degree with distinction in women’s and gender studies from DePaul University in Chicago.
Her research interests include Latinx feminisms, women of color feminisms, and interrogating public school curriculums and their shortcomings for secondary education students of color. She especially brings into her work the ways in which Latinx scholarship interprets upbringing, culture, traditions, and vast experiences in conversations about healing while simultaneously identifying how they intersect with queerness, gender, oppression, and racism. She hopes to continue interrogating public school curriculums in her doctoral work by centering Latinx scholarship and feminist pedagogy.
In her spare time, Kassandra enjoys reading, going on walks with her mini Schnauzer, Frida, and lifting her mood with music from Bad Bunny.
Mark de Gruchy
Mark de Gruchy (he/him) is a North Carolina transplant and first-year doctoral student in WSU’s American Studies and Culture program. His research revolves around social justice, food inequalities and urban development.
He hopes to center his doctoral work around the relationship between social justice issues and food inequalities.
Mark earned his master’s degree in liberal studies with a graduate certification in women and gender in 2018 and his bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in American studies in 2016 from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNC-C.) . Prior to transitioning to UNC-C, he earned an associate in arts degree at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte.
Mark has worked as a freelance graphic designer since 2015, producing work for a variety of corporations, such as WWE, AEW, Hot Topic, MLW and more. He is currently finishing illustrations for a children’s book and completing his fourth art book.
He enjoys exercising, is an avid water drinker and pro wrestling enthusiast.
Arash Kazemi graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in government and politics. He earned his master’s degree in American-European studies from the University of Regensburg in Germany in 2021. In his master’s thesis, he investigated the influence of the Heideggerian phenomenological account of modern technology on the Rortyan neo-pragmatist account of technology.
Arash’s current research interests include American pragmatism, philosophy of technology, and the myths of frontier and exceptionalism. For his PhD project, he aims to study the correlations between the pragmatist conception of modern technology as presented in the works of pragmatist thinkers, such as John Dewey and Richard Rorty, and the discourses of American myths of frontier and exceptionalism.
Beyond his academic experiences, Arash worked with German and French NGOs helping asylum seekers on the Greek island of Samos.
Raymond Lindquist (they/he) is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest and now a doctoral student in the American Studies and Culture Program at WSU. After starting his academic journey as a journalism major, he found his academic interests went beyond what he could cover in newsprint and decided to pursue his longtime passion for research and pedagogy instead. He went on to earn his BA in cultural studies from The Evergreen State College and his MA in cultural studies from the University of Washington, Bothell.
For his bachelor’s degree, Raymond’s research interests centered on Asian-American and East Asian culture, history, subcultures, and popular culture, culminating in studying abroad in both China and Japan. During his master’s work, he investigated the potential of narrative-based interventions for misinformation spread and gender norms within extremism. For his PhD work, he plans to build upon this research and to analyze power and gender within popular culture and related subcultural groups.
In his spare time, Raymond’s hobbies consist of nature and wildlife photography, playing video games, and recreating foods from his favorite film, game, and television franchises.
Ashley Wells (she/her) is a first-year PhD student in the American Studies and Culture program at WSU. Raised on Long Island, NY, she completed her BA in English literature at Binghamton University. She obtained an MA in creative writing from Dartmouth College and an MA in American studies from Columbia University.
Her research interests revolve around Black American women and the mental health crisis. She is specifically looking at how the Black church has both a positive and negative effect on how Black American women are able to access and utilize mental health treatment. She is also a co-founder and the chief operating officer of a nonprofit organization called The Prosp(a)rity Project. It is dedicated to improving the financial and economic mobility of college-educated Black women. In her free time, Ashley enjoys writing poetry, participating in student government, and pageantry.