Pacific Humanities Scholars Program
Courtney Lehmann, Ph.D.
Director of Pacific Humanities Scholars Program, Professor of English / Film Studies

Meet our Humanities Scholars

Csilla 2013Story-Telling with a Twist: Csilla Richmond

Since I first learned how to read, I knew I was going to be a writer. I knew I was going to share my experiences and connect with people the only way I knew how: through words. Throughout my life, I've traveled to many interesting places, the most life-changing being Hungary, Costa Rica, and Fiji. I've seen and heard stories in my travels that deserve to -- and need to -- be told. 

Hungary was significant to me because that is my mother's home country, and Costa Rica and Fiji were important to me because of the stark contrast between where the tourists stayed and where the locals lived. I couldn't conceive why the locals were in shacks while the tourists lounged in resorts, and I didn't understand how anyone could think that was just.

After those trips, I became interested in travel -- traveling to meet people, traveling to hear their stories, traveling to connect with groups of people in a way that would allow us to see each other on an equal level. I wanted to tell the stories of those literally dying to share their experiences. By telling stories that were both mine and not mine -- both mine and ours, collectively -- I wanted to make disinterested people engaged in preserving the lives and happiness of others, especially those less fortunate than them. 

That is what I still intend to do with my life. Currently, I'm an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing, and I work at the Pride Resource Center on campus. I'm a part of Gender Umbrella and Pride Alliance. I intend to get active in the Stockton community at large, both in the small section of LGBTQIA and beyond. I believe that progress is only achievable through understanding the variances and similarities in situations far different from our own. 

Writing Her Way to the Top: Sarah Yung

Sarah 2013

I began reading at the age of three, and I haven’t stopped since. I’m an enthusiastic advocate for children’s literacy, a passion I’ve carried into my community. I’ve served in my local library as a volunteer in the children’s reading program since sixth grade.

In high school, I was the Public Relations President of the Mills Robotics Team, as well as a PR officer for Mills’ Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Club and the choir. I was also a staff writer for my school newspaper, in addition to being a National Society of High School Scholars member and an AP Scholar.

Over the years, I’ve continued to grow and develop as a writer. In the summer of my junior year of high school, I was accepted into the University of Virginia’s Young Writer’s Workshop, an intensive three-week program that assists students of various writing backgrounds in honing and sharpening their skills.

In 2012, I published my first book, a young adult supernatural thriller that explores the divisiveness that would exist in a world with superpowers. It also examined the ambiguity of morality from a teenage perspective.

As a Pacific Humanities Scholar, I hope to pursue my major in English in a nontraditional way that will broaden my outlook on life while still allowing me to improve my writing skills.

Raising the Bar: Emily Olson 

Emily 2013

In addition to being a Pacific Humanities Scholar, I'm also a Pacific Legal Scholar. I believe in being an advocate for social justice. I have plans to minor in pre-law, attend law school, and pursue a career in the legal field.

The only match to my passion for law is my interest in English and literary studies. While some might think of these as mismatched concentrations, I firmly believe that if one pursues one's interests with diligence and passion, everything works out for the best. And one should learn for the love of it; it's a lifelong process that should never be limited.

When I have spare time, I enjoy horseback riding, watching movies, and -- of course -- reading. I used to run track and cross-country, so I can also often be found running or doing other outdoor activities. I also enjoy working with children. This summer I worked as a nanny and a swim instructor. In the past I've volunteered at youth horse camps and adolescent church programs.

At Pacific, I'm involved with the Book Buddies program in which college students have the opportunity to mentor kids from kindergarten through third grade in literary development. On a whole, I've found working with children to be a very rewarding experience. I think children possess enthusiasm and curiosity that adults should have as well. Working with children gives one an unparalleled perspective on life, and I know I'll continue to follow this passion in the future.

Read Emily's blog about her 6-week Italian immersion experience in Assisi.

Acting the Part: Kelly Manlaibayar 

Kelly 2013

I'm a double major in Theater Arts and Business from Los Angeles, CA. I was born in Mongolia, but I'm an LA native. I've always been interested in my academic life, and I've received a lot of recognition.

I've garnered awards from The National Society of Leadership and Success, the Presidential Award for Educational Excellence, the California Scholarship Federation, the National Young Leadership Conference, the National Society of High School Scholars, and the National Honor Society. In high school I was also a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist, a Principal's High Honor Student, and a Jewish World Watch Junior Activist.

I've always had a diverse range of interests, as shown through the eclectic mix of activities I've been involved with throughout the years. In high school I was the Project Manager of Team 4 ELEMENT, a robotics team that competed internationally. Our goal was to encourage young people's interest and participation in science and technology. I also performed in numerous musicals, including Powder Puff Pilots, Bye Bye Birdie, Into the Woods, and Seussical. Additionally, I was the Co-President and founder of my high school's Gay Straight Alliance, and I was an active member of student government -- I was the class representative -- and various other clubs and organizations.

At Pacific, I'm currently a part of a leadership honors society (Sigma Alpha Pi) and Pacific's philosophy club (The Think Tank). I was also the Assistant Stage Manager for the theater department's 2013 fall production of The Drunken City. I soon hope to join both a professional and social fraternity.

One day, I want to create an organization that uses theater and entertainment to uplift the spirits of those less fortunate. I have a vision of bringing these programs into communities where arts aren't funded, giving children and adults something to do while involving them in an activity that enables them to express raw emotion. With my background in both theater and business, I'm hoping this dream will soon become a reality.  

Aiming for Greatness: Ernest Chan

Ernest 2013

I was born in San Francisco, CA, with little motivation to do well in school. Life at home was all about fun and games, and my education was taken lightly. Nevertheless, throughout most of my early life I was innately interested in the worlds around me, and I constantly played with different things in my backyard, experimenting and otherwise acting upon my curiosity. 

It was in these moments where I discovered my love of music, and when I picked up the violin at the age of eight, I began a journey of learning the intricacies of an instrument that was so small but powerful at the same time. Following my transition into middle school, I had a rebellious attitude that seemed to be the centerpiece of my adolescent mindset. I got into trouble, experimented with how far I could go without getting caught, and my grades subsequently plummeted. However, in eighth grade I was inspired by the principal of my middle school, who told me I had the potential to succeed. After rethinking what my capabilities were, I quickly accelerated to the top of my class and was voted "most inspirational" by my peers and teachers.

Once again, I found a transition into a new way of life difficult. My adaptability to new situations wasn't as quick as I thought and ultimately I underestimated high school. I began neglecting school work for more detrimental activities and my grades during my first two years took a huge blow. But as junior year rolled by, I began to get myself into the mindset for success. I enrolled in all AP classes and did very well in all of them, achieving 5s on every AP test I took. This coincided with my 92nd percentile scores on both the ACT and SAT, as well as my acceptance into a prestigious week-long pre-law seminar called Boys State. During this time, I also learned the guitar, using the instrument as another outlet for my musical passion.

Throughout my life I have also been deeply interested in technology and computer software development, and this has led to the creation of my own business, aditusProjects. I design websites and install online security, doing my best to give small businesses affordable access to their online footprint. 

I also took part in an internship at Sonoma State University in the Engineering department, where I was part of a design team that built a stationary bike that converted mechanical energy into electrical energy. On top of this, I was also mentored by Dr. Farid Farahmand of the Engineering department, who pushed me towards greater software development in mobile phones and other portable devices.

I still firmly believe that engineering and technology are the purest forms of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to design, build, and maintain. I have been an advocate for this mindset and am hoping in the future to blend my Philosophy major, along with my love of technology, into something great.

Creating in the Community: Kristina Davis

Kristina 2013

I'm a graphic design major from Santa Cruz, CA. In high school, I began taking graphic design classes, and I discovered that I really enjoyed them and that they were my passion. I used the skills I learned in my classes to work with Community Partners, a charity organization based in San Francisco, to create flyers and logos for its many events in the city.

I'm passionate about community service and volunteering. In total, I have around 250 volunteer hours. These were achieved by helping out at my church as a Sunday school teacher and working as a counselor for my local VBA (Veterans Benefit Association), along with various other organizations.

In high school, I played varsity golf all four years, and I graduated as a salutatorian. I enjoy nature, sports, and art. I plan on getting involved in the photography club at Pacific, and I'm already a part of the Pacific Christian club. I'm working to get a BFA in graphic design. I hope to use my degree to work for a design company creating logos and working on package designs. 

All the World's a Stage: Jessie George

Jessie 2013

I like long walks on the beach, piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain...but really, being a Washington State native, I do actually love getting caught in the rain! Anyway, although I call myself a Washington native, I hail from the great state of Colorado. After I was born my family moseyed on down to Texas, and then we drove off into the sunset to be sleepless in Seattle for ten years. Next I rose like a phoenix in Arizona for two years. I then traveled across the Mojave Desert, through the seven levels of the candy cane forest and past the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops...and finally I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel to study Theatre Arts and English at the mighty University of the Pacific.

I have spent the last twelve years of my life pouring, quite literally, blood, sweat, and tears into the great art that is live theatre. I have been in numerous productions both onstage and backstage, from Romeo and Juliet to 42nd Street. I have spent every spare moment of my life gallivanting about the theatre to the point of almost sleeping there several times...and no, I'm not kidding. My love of theatre only brought about a love of singing as well, causing me to spend the last ten years of my life involved with choir. 

In addition to my theatre life, I adore reading and getting lost in literature. Stories are an escape, the road map to a new world full of wonderful discoveries and imaginative beauty. It's a world I wish to understand and help others to understand as well. 

In future endeavors I shall go forth as a foot soldier for humanity and bring to the people the power of live theatre. I will search the land for those less fortunate, the downtrodden and the meek, and extend my hand to offer rehabilitation through performance. I wish to stand out as an advocate for equal rights for all humans and to get involved in many charities and organizations like those around the university and Stockton itself.    

Seeking a Spark: Alex Gerberick

Alex 2013

I'm an exploratory student who is one hundred percent undecided about what I want to do when I finally "grow up". Ever since I was knee high, adults have always asked me: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Although I'm far from the years of wanting to scoop ice cream at Ben and Jerry's, I have yet to find something that truly sparks a fire within me. I know that I want to be happy and that I want to do both good and well. You can't really major in that, but at University of the Pacific, I plan to find something I am passionate enough about to do for the rest of my life.

I was born in Fort Myers, Florida, and moved to Gilroy, California, the summer before my sophomore year of high school. I continued to take a variety of classes all throughout high school so I could find my niche both academically and socially.

When I'm not reading, sleeping, eating, or listening to Kid Cudi on Pandora, you can find me in the library or in John Ballantyne, the honors dorm where I'm the President. This spring I plan on joining a sorority, and I'm also hoping to study abroad in the near future.

Engaging and Understanding the Humanities: Chain Shields  

Humanity Scholar Chain Shields

 Major: English

 My admission to the Humanities Scholars program came as a surprise, but one I couldn't imagine  being more suited for. I'm an avid supporter of the humanities and want nothing more than to explore  the possibilities offered by a program devoted to expanding engagement and understanding. To have  the opportunity to foster personal growth and connect with other like-minded students is a fantastic  dream.

Publishing Poetry: Andrew Rocha

Humanity Scholar Andrew Rocha

Major:  English, with a minor in Ethnic Studies

Recent success: After about a month of being an English major, I started to write poetry. Last semester I read an original poem at the Sigma Tau Delta Poetry Reading and I plan on submitting some of my work to the Calliope literary magazine. In my short time in the program, I've been fortunate to meet a lot of interesting people, travel to fascinating places, and think about concepts that I've never even considered. These experiences have already helped me to refine my ability to tell stories.

Highlight: I was given the chance to meet and talk with the writer, Matt De La Pena. He gave me a copy of his book Mexican White Boy.

 Designing Her Own Path: Kat ElliottHumanity Scholar Kathryn Elliot

 Major: Self-designed in English and History, organized around identity politics

 I've been told many times by many different people that there are no careers in the Humanities. I think  this was meant to sway me toward a more "sensible" career choice like math or engineering. But I've  never been the type to be swayed easily, and these criticisms have only strengthened my resolve to do  what I want and major in the discipline I choose. In this respect alone, I wouldn't be as happy as I am  now-with the friends I've made in the program, and the fact that I'm making my own decisions, as  opposed to following what my peers told me and majoring in a different, more "practical" field.  What  drew me to the program was the fact that it's so specialized for each individual, and it was aligned with  my personal interests.  My future goals include being a successful writer, and the Humanities program  contributes to this because I'm immersed in an encouraging environment where I can best expand my  artistic sense.  

Fighting for Women's Rights: Ashley Colombo 

Humanity Scholar Ashely Colombo

Major: English, with a Creative Writing Concentration and a Gender Studies minor

I'm a firm believer in women's rights and equality in general.  I think my contributions to social justice can emerge through my writing. I want my stories to be ones that everyone can relate to regardless of their background. I want to inspire people to read actual books when the world seems to be turning away from them. And I want to urge people to follow their own dreams like I'm following mine.

Justice for Queer and Transgender Communities: Adrian Cohen

 Humanity Scholar Adrian Cohen
 Major: English major with a Teaching Professions minor working towards a single-subject credential

 While I am a firm believer in the intersection of all social justice issues, my main areas of focus are  feminism as well as justice for queer and transgender communities.   The Humanities Scholars program  offers a space for learning not just from the professors, but form each other.  We have such different  backgrounds and experiences-all of which allow us to bring different ideas and perspectives to the table,  and all of them are unique and interesting.  It's an incredibly valuable education.  

 Recent Success: Winner, Best Freshman Submission, Calliope (2014)

Accelerating Towards a Meaningful Career: Kat Harlan-Gran

Humanity Scholar Kathryn Harlan-Gran

Major: English, with minors in Spanish, Gender Studies, and Ethnic Studies

Selected High School Achievement:
· Top-ranked competitive speaker at the regional, state, and national level
· Published poet in the Stanislaus County paper, Stanislaus Connections
· State Championship Competitor, Poetry Out Loud 
· State Championship Competitor, Science Olympiad
· Winner of the Golden State Seal  

I was attracted to the Scholars program because it gives me the opportunity to work closely with other students who are gifted in the humanities and who have a vested interest in the subject area. The program also appeals to me because it puts me on an accelerated track to graduation and, after that, to my Masters degree. During my time in this program I hope to expand my knowledge in my chosen field, expose myself to new ideas, and prepare myself for a meaningful career.

Creating Policies and Giving Education To All: Natasha Popowich 

Humanity Scholar Natasha Popowich

 Major: English and Political Science, with a minor in Pre-Law and Gender Studies.  

 The Humanities Scholars program enables me to explore options of helping others in a supportive  environment, while providing me with resources to do it. It also gives me a chance to get out into the  real world a bit quicker.  It is my goal to promote social justice through policy-making and increased  access to education and other resources. In my spare time, I love to play the guitar, ukulele, and sing.  I just love music in general, so if I'm not listening to it then I'm playing it. Aside from that, I'm  probably watching television, it's my guilty pleasure. 

 Personal highlight: interviewed former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn Carter for a documentary  film.  

 Getting In Touch With Your Roots: Andrew Canton

Humanity Scholar Andrew CantonI am a sophomore Studio Art major from Stockton, CA. I was interested in the Pacific Humanities Scholars Program primarily because if its emphasis on the arts. The fact that it was interdisciplinary and allowed students to self design their major was what impressed me the most-and being able to do all this in three years was particularly appealing. 

I'm very interested in promoting a positive image of Stockton. There are many good things about this city that has been forgotten in the whirlwind of bad press and negativity surrounding the city's reputation. Stockton has a lot to offer, and a legacy worth living up to. I intend to remind people of that.

Right now, I am working on a small documentary about the Little Manila Foundation. Stockton's Little Manila was home to the largest community of Filipinos outside of the Philippines, and the Foundation helps preserve and spread knowledge about that key moment of Stockton history. I am hoping that this documentary will inspire not just Filipino-Americans, but Stocktonians and Pacific students of all ethnicities to get in touch with their roots.

I usually spend my free time hanging out with my friends at book stores. We like to challenge each other to look at the world in creative ways. If we're not reading, then we're usually drawing or comparing each other's short stories and sketchbooks. This sort of competitive collaboration has helped us develop a keen eye for new compositions and instill an artistic mindset.

But when I'm not with my friends, I am usually with my fellow Humanities Scholars - who've become like a second family for me. Since they come from different disciplines, they always challenge me to look at the world from a different perspective. This has helped enrich my own view of the world, and the art I use to interpret it. This is the kind of college education I did not expect to have, but it is exactly what I needed.