The program asked some of its students to speak about their experiences in the program. Their testimonials are shared below.
Anthony is an educator who received his Bachelor’s degree from SUNY New Paltz. He joined the program in the Fall of 2018 with an interest in creating engaged digital pedagogies. Through coursework, close mentoring, and his involvement with the GC digital community he learned to refine his projects and make them into presentable artifacts of DH scholarship. The interdisciplinary skills he picked up as an M.A. student, along with the digital portfolio he developed during his studies, contributed to his Fall 2020 admission in the Ph.D. program in Urban Education at the Graduate Center. Anthony has also joined the CUNY Academic Commons Team and continues to enact social justice through pedagogy as an adjunct instructor at several CUNY colleges.
“My experience in the program created avenues for me to participate in various digital projects from the ground up and gain experience in a different role through each. While learning about digital scholarship, I also had the opportunity to be a project manager, data analyst, mapping/UX specialist, content writer, and more across various courses.”
Projects he’s worked on: Rethinking Gaming & Representation Within Digital Pedagogy: An Instructor's Guide (Digital Capstone Project), Mapping Immigrant Resources in NYC, Freedom Dreaming: A Call to Imagine
Brianna is a full-time medical editor with a liberal arts background. In just two semesters as a part-time student at the Graduate Center, she has become a valuable member of the GC digital community: in addition to taking classes in digital humanities and digital memory, she has participated in several para-curricular activities led by the GC Digital Fellows, including a number of GCDI workshops and the GC Digital Research Institute. In all those settings, she’s found a supportive environment that stresses the importance of failure, experimentation, and asking questions—lessons that are shaping her approach to scholarship as well as percolating in her professional life.
“In my application I'm not sure I was able to fully articulate why I wanted to be in this program; it was more of a gut feeling. Now that I'm in the program, it's so much more than I even hoped for. [...] I very much appreciate seeing how many people (like me) started out with very few technical skills and now are coding and building such interesting DH projects and teaching skills workshops. The program—and the digital initiatives at the GC more broadly—offers so many ways to support my learning and development in these areas.”
“I was somewhat worried what it would look like starting grad school during COVID--learning how to learn in a virtual environment, on top of my having been away from higher education for more than a decade--but the program is giving me a sense of purpose and something to look forward to during the pandemic. All of the professors and advisors and students have created an environment full of knowledge and new experiences, but also so much care. It's a lot of work, but I really feel like I'm thriving. I could not be happier that I decided to apply to the program.”
Elena Abou Mrad
Elena is an international student from Turin, Italy who joined the program after working as an archivist for eight years. The project management, teamwork, and grant writing skills she’s learned as an M.A. student helped Elena land a part-time job as Neighborhood Stories Project Coordinator at New York City’s Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS).
“What I value most about the M.A. Program in Digital Humanities are its interdisciplinarity and the ‘maker’s attitude’ that values process over product.”
Kevin is a full-time product designer at MongoDB who holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Design Studies from UC Berkeley. He joined the program to deepen his conceptual and theoretical engagement with the digital humanities—in other words, to lean more into the “humanities” side of DH. During coursework he has familiarized himself with the critical debates around and the historical foundations of digital technology. The flexibility of the program is allowing him the space to engage analytically and critically with the digital tools he’s been using as a designer, while still being able to create.
“The program is relatively new, and the boundaries that define ‘Digital Humanities’ are still quite fluid, with very little methodological or theoretical restrictions. As such, there's a lot of flexibility for me to not only explore different parts of the field, but to think beyond its current boundaries and consider how my work might expand them.”
Lauren is an academic librarian based in New York City who applied to the program with the goal of familiarizing herself with digital tools to support scholars at her institution. Her experience at the Graduate Center helped her gain foundational skills in digital tools, critical engagement with technology, and the confidence to support scholars in her new position as Accessibility and Accommodations Librarian at The Division of Libraries, New York University in which she transitioned during her time in the program. The human element of the GC digital community especially stood out for Lauren: the mentoring from faculty, the expertise of the GC Digital Fellows, and the mutual support within her cohort. The project she developed during her time as an M.A. student resulted in a digital project (and a friendship) that continues to grow past the completion of her degrees.
“I am [...] quite thankful for the experience of attending a public university and being able to join in critical conversations about the role higher education can play in community. It has grounded my praxis and philosophy of instruction and approach to service.”
Projects she’s worked on: ZineCat.
Nadia El Mouldi
Nadia is a full time software engineer in a large financial company who enrolled in the program to learn about the affordances of digital archives and data visualizations. The conversations and readings assigned in her courses—focused on issues that are central to the marginalized communities of New York City, many of which are dear to her identity—shifted her interest towards working on interdisciplinary community-focused projects while further attuning her to the complexities and power dynamics involved in building technology.
“My understanding of Digital Humanities has grown to encompass an interdisciplinary lens through which technology is critically explored through its ethical and political implications. I very much value the community I became part of when I joined the program. I am constantly in awe of how kind, helpful, and compassionate students, faculty, and staff are in the Digital Humanities program and the Graduate Center at large.”
Project she’s worked on: “Mapping State Violence and Colonial Legacies in the Mediterranean,” a data visualization project (currently under development) that aims to shed new light on the migratory crossings between 2014 and 2019 by showing the involvement of nation states and authorities in the crisis.
Sabina entered the program while working as an Adjunct Lecturer in English at City College of New York and as a part-time CUNY CAP Fellow/Legal Assistant in the Office of Legal Affairs and Labor Relations at Baruch College. She had previously earned a BA in English Literature at CCNY and was awarded a two-year Fulbright fellowship as English Teaching Assistant in Colombia. While she was especially eager to learn DH theory and methods to bring into her classroom, during coursework she became interested in DH as a tool to further social justice. In addition to developing and maintaining a number of socially engaged digital projects, she is now pursuing a J.D. in Public Interest Law at the CUNY School of Law. The healthy relationship with technology that she developed in the DH program was also decisive in her promotion to a full time job as a paralegal at Baruch College, CUNY.
“Building and learning with others in a community of practitioners was revolutionary because it unsettled traditional models of academic performance and opened up new exciting pathways for growth. Using humanistic methods of inquiry to analyze digital technologies provided critical theoretical frameworks that serve me well in other fields. Conceptualizing and developing code to create projects was (well, felt like) doing magic.”