“I like doing things that aren't just the norm. I don’t want to have a nine-to-five job,” says Dorian Elgrichi, a senior Film and Media studies major, who is currently running two companies while he is still in school — a photo booth company and a car detailing company. He has recently started a partnership with the electric skateboard company Riptide, creating a video for the firm in order to promote the use of its skateboards on college campuses.
Originally from Beverly Hills, Elgrichi transferred to UC Santa Barbara from Santa Monica College in 2017. He has been working in film production since participating in a film program during high school in Beverly Hills.
In this interview, Elgrichi speaks on how he has combined his love of film and his desire to succeed in business.
Chinese student Zhitao Kou describes how UC Santa Barbara eased his transition into American university life with programs for international students and step-up Linguistics department classes run by the English for Multilingual Students.
“ Each of us needed to write and present on current affairs such as presidential election, American social classes, American ethnicities and so on. Compared to other easy freshman courses, these classes are quite challenging,” writes Kou, who also benefited from one-on-one contact with professors.
Blake Thompson, a third-year student at UC Santa Barbara who is pursuing a double major in Theater and Communication, devoted the last weeks of summer and first weeks of fall preparing for her role in the pared down Hamlet, which ran for 19 performances over a two week period.
In a recent interview, Thompson talked about the field of acting and how the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts helps an aspiring actress reach her potential.
Michelle Sharp, a double major in Art and Mathematics who graduated this spring, decided to branch out from her background in mathematics to expand her repertoire in the arts. Sharp is among a growing number of UCSB students who are combining STEM majors with those in the Humanities and Fine Arts.
Sharp exhibited much of her photography in the Glass Box Galleries, which feature student and faculty creative work on campus. And she created an animated short, “Agnus’ Front Lawn,” for one of her film production classes, which is a comedy about an old woman trying to win the neighborhood’s lawn competition.
After exploring the ins and outs of various creative departments, Sharp is finding her passion in animation. She finds it is easy to get jobs in art-related fields, saying it takes hard work but if you are dedicated it isn’t much different than finding jobs in STEM related fields.
Peruvian-American mezzo-soprano Kelly Newberry was 14 years old when she found her vocal gift. She walked into high school in Simi Valley and signed up for choir since she needed an elective and all her friends were doing it. The teacher gave her a solo and that marked the beginning of her music career.
Newberry remembers when an opera singer from Austria came into her high school class offering voice lessons and sang Habanera from Carmen. Still not very much convinced that it was what she wanted to do, Newberry signed up and during her first lesson the instructor stared at her and told her she had an amazing voice for opera.
“I fell in love with it because of how emotional and raw opera can be and it’s so unabashedly emotional,” she recalls.
Languages build bridges, says Sabah Hamad, a UC Santa Barbara graduate student in Arabic, Hebrew Literature, and Black Studies. Hamad believes that being able to communicate with people from other parts of the world is rewarding and offers a better understanding of their beliefs and traditions.
Hamad is a Palestinian-American who believes that much of the Israel-Palestinian conflict has to do with the misunderstanding and bias, made worse by ignorance of Palestinian and Israeli literature and languages. In a recent interview, she discussed these issues and how she is pursuing interests in Middle East cultures through the Religion Studies Department.
Korean pop music [K-pop] has become popular in the United States in recent years thanks to the viral trend of PSY’s “Gangnam Style” in 2012. UC Santa Barbara’s department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies in 2014 added a course called the “New Korean Wave.” Clearly, there is an increasing interest in - and awareness of - K-pop and Korean culture in general outside of South Korea.
Personifying that trend is Tyler Devin Clark, who goes by Devin. He is co-president of UCSB’s K-pop club, Seoul’d Out. In this interview, Clark shares his perspective on K-pop’s advance into the American market as well as K-pop’s influence in his own life.
Justine Bethel is a UC Santa Barbara English major who within the span of eight years went from living as a homeless adolescent in San Diego to giving a well-received keynote address at TEDxUCSB in March.
After leaving an abusive household at a young age and entering the cycle of youth homelessness, Bethel was able to get off the streets, receive three associate’s degrees from the San Diego Community College District, and become financially stable by starting her own jewelry business before entering college at UCSB.
In her TED talk, she shared a series of short stories about important acts of kindness from strangers that helped turn her life around.
Catt Phan, a Walter H. Capps intern, sees herself as an advocate for advancing understanding among multi-lingual communities. “There is a misconception that we have to speak on behalf of the ‘voiceless’ or those that can’t speak English, but that’s not necessarily true,” Phan said. “Marginalized communities have their own voice. What we need to do is pass along the mic to them so they feel like they have the ability to change their own lives.”
Through her work at Just Communities in Santa Barbara she has helped educate and inform immigrants as to which resources are available for them to gain a more equal playing field in their new country.
Zenzile Riddick is a UCSB Sociology and Black Studies Double Major with a Minor in History. Hear her talk about her experience as an intern for the Walter H. Capps Center's Sara Miller McCune Endowed Internship and Public Service Program in this Student Spotlight video.
UC Santa Barbara offers 411 study abroad opportunities in 44 countries under its popular Education Abroad Program. One of those programs enabled Nicholas Wagenseller to study abroad in Japan, which he had always longed for. Finally, that dream came true.
“Middle school students looked surprised when they saw I spoke in Japanese, and they asked me to take a picture together,” he said.
Maya Zhobi is an Art Major at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) in its College of Creative Studies. Hear her talk about her work, inspirations, and aspirations outside of school in the following Student Spotlight video.
At a time when Hip Hop and Electronic Dance Music dominate the music industry, it can be hard for those playing classical and acoustic instruments to get the recognition they deserve. That hasn’t stopped UC Santa Barbara student Zac Erstad, a composer who hopes to fulfill his dream in the music industry by becoming a song producer for either films or video games.
Erstad played with the UCSB Percussion Ensemble in February in performance for mallet instruments called “Old and New,” transcriptions and compositions for mallet instruments. He will also take part in the College of Creative Studies’ musical at the end of the quarter when he will perform three songs that he wrote, along with the show’s overture.
Q+A: UCSB STUDENT DISCUSSES HER JOURNEY AS AN ASPIRING FILMMAKER
Aryana Moreno, who is set to graduate from the Film and Media Studies department at UC Santa Barbara this spring, did the camera work and editing on The Tipping Point, a short documentary that recently premiered at the 2018 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. A large audience embraced the film at its screening, inspiring Moreno to gain even more hands-on experience in shooting and editing.
Robert Brian Huerta places himself in a long line of artists who are considered rebels in their own generation as they explore new directions in their work.
At his recent Glassbox exhibition, UC Santa Barbara’s student-run exhibition space, Huerta invited several punk rock groups to perform within the space. He titled the exhibition Tresspassing: punks in the glassbox.
At the event, Huerta encouraged a clash by having conventional art pieces surround a group of people drinking, singing, and dancing to a live, black-clad punk band.
Second year UC Santa Barbara music student, Vincent Gao steps forward on stage and waves his arms, facing the crowd as he sings the Chinese song “Confession Balloon” into a microphone along with his partner Max Wong.
“Everyone, can you please take out your phones,” Gao calls into the audience. Suddenly one by one, with arms raised and with loud cheers, the audience illuminates the Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall with a sea of bright cell phone lights, in a waving motion.
This was the first round of the Super Nova 2017 Finale in late fall, hosted by the Chinese Student and Scholar Association for Chinese international students. Excitement filled the venue as 300 Chinese international students filled the seats of the concert hall that evening in to enjoy music far away from home.
Sasha Nasir, a student in our new Journalism for Web and Social Media course, has produced a video featuring undergraduates in UC Santa Barbara's division of Humanities and Fine Arts explaining what they love about their majors - Classics, Black Studies, Film and Media Studies, and English.
“I know that it’s not very practical to be a performer. That’s a hard life because you’re just gigging all the time,” UCSB senior Claire Garvais said as she sat at a Starbucks at UC Santa Barbara. “I never wanted that for myself, but I also wanted to stay in music.”
Garvais recently declared a double major in Global Studies and Music Studies. Though it may seem unlikely for a musician, she majored in economics her freshman year then switched her major to global studies only to realize by junior year that she wanted to participate more fully in the university’s music scene.
“There’s no one else in my family that does music. I’m the only one,” said Garvais, who picked up her first instrument in elementary school. “I’ve always been in music.”
Weihao Qiu, a UC Santa Barbara Media and Technology student, had to work quickly to design and modify his data visualization project for exhibition at the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.
In the end, his hard work paid off. In a recent interview, he described how exciting it was to receive the commission for his piece and how thrilled he has been by the reaction of visitors who have interacted with it.
“When it was exhibited, I saw people playing with it, and that moment was very special,” he said. “You already know the tricks but they don’t. So you can see the process of them gaining knowledge to understand the piece.”