The Shapiro Award honors the memory of Ted Shapiro A82, an American Studies major who died in a drowning accident a year after graduating. His parents established the award to allow American Studies majors to pursue academic research during the summer after their sophomore or junior year. Through the continued generosity of the Shapiro Family, the award is now available to students who major in one of the six tracks within the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora. The award supports the critical study of social power and social differentiation, methods of informed community engagement, and the practice of ethical social action. Awards are often used for exploratory work that may form the basis of the student's Senior Special Project or Honors Thesis, but this is not required. This flagship award of the RCD Department recognizes efforts that balance scholarly research with civil discourse, and that critically explore topics from juxtaposed and contrasting perspectives.
Students can only receive the award once, and six awards are granted each year. The process for deciding on the recipients is competitive and requires the submission of a two page proposal, an official student transcript, and a one page description of how the project engages with the themes of race, colonialism, and diaspora studies. Proposals must meet the purpose of the Shapiro award and contain a well-written statement of the project. Your proposal should explain what you propose to do, when your project will be completed, what it will cost, and what outcome will result from the award. Award recipients are required to present their findings at the Shapiro Award Luncheon during the fall semester, and again at the Shapiro Award Ceremony in the spring term.
Sadly, Ted's father, Aaron Shapiro, passed away in 2011. We thoroughly enjoyed his annual visits to Tufts with his wife Elaine to personally present the Shapiro awards. Our students have greatly appreciated the generosity of the Shapiro family over the years. Mr. Shapiro was a caring and generous man and he will truly be missed.
Donations to the Ted Shapiro Memorial Fund in the name of Aaron Shapiro can be sent to:
Fung House, 2nd Floor
48 Professors Row
Medford, MA 02155
Attn: Kerri Greenidge
Checks should be payable to "The Ted Shapiro Memorial Fund."
Please contact Kerri Greenidge at 617-627-6616 or email with any questions.
Applying for the Ted Shapiro Memorial Award
Please complete the Application for Ted Shapiro Award and submit it with your project proposal by the deadline (check with the program administrator or program director for details). We recommend that you discuss your project with your academic or American Studies advisor, who will review and sign your application.
- Each proposal must include an itemized budget that proposes at least two budget plans, one more stringent than the other.
- You will not be given a chance to revise your proposal once it is submitted.
- All awardees (unless they are studying abroad) are expected to attend three ceremonies:
- The Shapiro Awards Presentation Ceremony in the spring to accept your award and meet the Shapiro family
- The Shapiro Awards Project Presentation Program in the fall following your project, to present to faculty and students
- The Shapiro Awards Presentation Ceremony in the following spring to present your results to the Shapiro family
- All awardees must submit a five-page report of their completed project for the Shapiro family as well as for the American Studies program no later than October 1.
- All awardees must sign a form agreeing to return the award money if the project they propose is either not done or only partially done.
2022 Ted Shapiro Memorial Awards Recipients
Audrey Ashbrook is a rising junior double majoring in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora Studies and International Relations. Audrey’s project this summer will delve into the archives of early British colonial photography through Samuel Bourne's images of India. This research will be used to analyze how colonial systems of power are created and sustained across time periods.
Isabelle Charles is a junior double majoring in Africana Studies and English. Inspired by her family's history, and from a cultural framework, she plans on addressing the role of the African Griot and discussing the long history of folktales in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Black U.S societies this summer. She proposes to interview people of the African Diaspora in Latin America (Brazil and Panama), the Caribbean (Jamaica and Haiti), and the U.S. in order to document the oral stories, life experiences, and diasporic patterns of members within the African diaspora through folktales.
Oliva Freiwald is an American Studies major entering their final semester at Tufts. Their research this summer will examine material and digital archives related to the childhoods of their two grandmothers: a daughter of a Jewish Ukrainian refugee and a daughter of cotton sharecroppers in South Carolina. Their histories will uncover stories of generational trauma related to racism and anti-Semitism, and will also narrate the American process of socialization into tropes of racism, elitism, education, and religion.
Nacie Loh is an incoming junior studying Race, Colonialism and Diaspora studies with minors in Studio Art and Anthropology. Her research will be based on her work as a summer counselor and farmer in Western Mass, considering power dynamics and race as large factors in experiencing the farm. In working and being with people centering care and openness in their relations with land, animals, and each other, Nacie hopes to learn and reflect more on the challenges and joys of living in accordance with values of racial equity and liberation, decolonial work, and transformative justice.
Reina Matsumoto is a rising senior double majoring in American Studies and English and minoring in Asian American Studies. Reina's research will examine the lives of the Japanese American women who left the WWII concentration camps early for higher education. By drawing on archival material and personal records, her research will explore how these women viewed their experiences in college and the war.
Qing Qing Pan is a fourth-year student studying History, Anthropology, and Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora Studies. Their summer research project will examine colonial speculations and anxieties about Chinese labor in the archives of New Zealand settler-national politics at the turn of the twentieth century. Qing Qing plans to develop this research into a senior thesis.
Congratulations to Niamh Doyle! Niamh was selected to receive a Ted Shapiro Memorial Award for 2019. She was honored at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. Welcoming remarks were presented by Professor Kerri Greenidge, director of the American Studies program. Ms. Ellen Shapiro Wolfson was present along with graduating award winners, and Professor Jean Wu of American Studies.
Niamh Doyle is a junior majoring in American Studies. Her summer research will explore perceptions of radical right populism amongst contemporary European ethnic immigrants.
Congratulations to Ana Sofia Amieva-Wang, Max Battle, Parker Breza, Britt, Emma Ishida, Elise Sommers, Zoeey CW, and Julia Yun! The nine American Studies majors were selected to receive a Ted Shapiro Memorial Award for 2018. They were honored at an awards ceremony on Monday, April 23, 2018. Welcoming remarks were presented by Dean Bárbara Brizuela. Ms. Ellen Shapiro Wolfson was present along with friends, graduating award winners, and American Studies faculty.
Ana Sofia Amieva-Wang is a junior double majoring in American Studies and Anthropology. This summer she will be speaking with domestic childcare workers in the Bay Area to hear their stories about the care they provide through their labor. Around the world caregivers, often women of color, help care for and raise children while experiencing high rates of isolation and invisibility. Their stories and voices are not often heard, yet they provide an incredibly intimate form of care. Ana Sofia hopes to be part of research that centers the counternarratives of caregivers to honor how they themselves make meaning out of their stories. Over the summer she will create a collection of narratives and poetry from the stories she hears dedicated to domestic caregivers. She hopes to expand this research in her senior thesis.
Max Battle, a junior majoring in American Studies, will take a deeper look at how Masculinity is constructed. They are thinking about Masculinity as both a structure and an embodied experience, in order to expose its ties to Settler Colonialism. This summer they will be conducting a series of interviews with people in the New York City trans communities, working towards the production of a distributable zine and a research paper.
Parker Breza, an American Studies major and Colonialism Studies minor, will explore the different political formations of Palestine solidarity organizing in the United States. Breza will conduct ethnographic interviews with University student activists throughout the US to better understand the ways US based activists contribute to transnational anti-colonial movements.
Britt is a junior majoring in American Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. In what ways is the structure of early childhood educational institutions perpetuating socially stratifying hierarchies of identity such as white supremacy and patriarchy? And how are individuals embodying and normalizing these socially constructed ideals of subjectivity? This summer, I will be interrogating early childhood education institutions as a crucial site in the production of gendered and racialized bodies, and their hierarchization. I plan on conducting five to six life-story interviews over the course of the summer with teachers and administrators in local public school systems to gain a better understanding of how teachers navigate topics such as race and gender in the classroom. These interviews will be the primary source of the grounded theory that will structure my thesis in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Department. Additionally, I plan on attending the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association annual conference to engage in panels and discussions about how to lift-up anticolonial practices and ideologies in the classroom.
Emma Ishida is a sophomore majoring in American Studies and Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Through the narratives of her mother and her mother's cousin, she will examine the process of assimilation in Japanese/Japanese Americans in the 1960's and 1970's, a critical time in which many present-day stereotypes are theorized to have rapidly developed. She also aims to study the effects of anti-Japanese sentiment following WWII on assimilation, as well as the effects of assimilation during these decades in the generations that followed, ultimately tying together how Japanese/Japanese Americans have come to be defined in the United States.
Elise Sommers, a junior majoring in American Studies with a minor in Child Studies and Human Development, will develop a scaffolded curriculum to teach a first year advising seminar in Fall of 2018. The course, 'Queering Childhood', will use arts-based education methods to teach critical childhood studies focusing on racialized innocence, prison abolition, and childhood sexual assault. The 13-week syllabus will work towards personal connection with the material and mobilization towards children's liberation.
Zoeey CW is a junior majoring in American Studies. My Shapiro Award project is a research project in preparation for my thesis: "Tyranny of Comfort and the Making of Whiteness." My project is rooted in what I lived and saw growing up in Montana, where addiction, dysfunction, and mental illness abound among white people of all socio-economic brackets and gender identities. My project will investigate the idea that "being white" does not just mean having white skin and institutional access/privilege, but that "being white" is rooted in deep psychological dependence (even addiction to) forms of consumption and comfort, which are only possible through the exploitation, consumption, and destruction of the lives and labors of ontological "others." Drawing on critical theory, social theory, literature, news articles, and media sources, I will investigate how to believe oneself to be "white" is to be addicted to an ideological paradigm and brutally violent social order that denies its own illness and (self-) destructiveness.
Julia Yun, a junior majoring in American Studies with a minor in Asian American Studies, will be interviewing family members to uncover histories that have not been shared with generations--stories that have been shamed into silence. By the end of the summer, these stories will form the beginnings of a familial archive consisting of videos, recordings, photographs, and text. Using these interviews as a case study, Julia will examine the processes of institutional erasure and the politics of memory in their honors thesis.
Congratulations to Miranda Perez, Leanna Pham, Lindsay Sanders, and Vivian Tam! The five American Studies majors were selected to receive a Ted Shapiro Memorial Award for 2017. They will be honored at an awards ceremony on Monday, April 24, 2017. Dean James Glaser and Dean Bárbara Brizuela will attend to congratulate students. Welcoming remarks will be presented by Dean James Glaser. Mrs. Elaine Shapiro and her daughter, Ellen Wolfson, will be present along with friends, including Dr. and Mrs. Wolk whose daughter was one of the first awardees in the 1980s, Saul Slapikoff, former director of the program and one of the program’s founding members, and American Studies faculty and students, and past winners.
Miranda Perez, a junior double majoring in American Studies and Clinical Psychology, will take a deeper look at Critical Autoethnography as a research method, to map the ways that it can be and has been used for healing within marginalized communities. This summer she will be reading autoethnographies, working towards the creation of a syllabus to allow this form to be taught to young people of color.
Leanna Pham, a junior majoring in American Studies and Community Health, will create a short documentary series on her mother’s reflections on her identity as a Vietnamese American refugee and how her experiences relate to what she hopes younger generations of Vietnamese Americans will know and learn. She will focus on how knowledge is created, understood, transmitted across generations within the themes of forced assimilation, trauma, war/imperialism, diaspora, and internalized racism. The production of films will also be used to speak about love, resistance, and individual/collective visions of a less violent future.
Lindsay Sanders is a junior at Tufts University majoring in American Studies and Sociology. She will study the relationship between the labor movement and political parties in Chile. While studying abroad in Valparaiso this semester, she began to investigate how labor unions are currently restructuring to combat their stagnant weakness following dictator Augosto Pinochet's 1979 Labor Reform. She plans to continue this research into her senior honors thesis, exploring the once strong relationship between unions and political parties, present day parties' role in the weakened state of labor laws today, and current efforts to rebuild the labor movement.
Vivian Tam, a junior majoring in American Studies and Community Health, plans to examine how Asian American students reflect on their experiences in New York City exam entry public schools, and specifically in their understanding of how perceptions of them by educators, family, other Asian American students, and students from other racial locations contribute to their own racial identity formation. This research will inform her senior thesis.
Congratulations to Blaine Dzwonczyk, Hannah Freedman, Elise Lee, and Ashley Shen! The four American Studies majors were selected to receive a Ted Shapiro Memorial Award for 2016. They will be honored at an awards ceremony on Thursday, April 28, 2016. Dean Bárbara Brizuela will attend to congratulate students. Welcoming remarks will be presented by Professor Adriana Zavala. Mrs. Elaine Shapiro and her daughter, Ellen Wolfson, will be present along with friends, including Tufts alum Jennifer Lewis and Hope Davis, American Studies faculty and students, and past winners.
Blaine Dzwonczyk, a junior majoring in American Studies, will conduct a critical analysis of her family history. Through studying primary sources, historical texts, census data, and personal interviews, she will examine her family’s participation in settler-colonialism and slavery in terms of the broader development of Whiteness and White supremacy in the US. Her research will also deal with themes of gender, mental illness, migration, estrangement, affluence, and resistance work in her family history. This research will inform her senior project.
Hannah Freedman, a junior majoring in American Studies with a minor in Computer Science, will spend this summer researching community land trusts as a stable, non-market-based source of permanently affordable housing in Baltimore. Her research will support the community organizing for CLTs in Baltimore and will be contextualized in the larger history of radicalized housing planning and development in the city and the national call for the human right to housing.
Elise Lee, a current junior majoring in American Studies and Clinical Psychology, plans to examine queer culture throughout the South Pacific. Her work will focus primarily on Samoan fa'afafine--a group that has been historically hypersexualized and fetishized by throughout literature. She looks to utilize the Samoan research method of talanoa, a process of conversational and personal interviewing, to allow marginalized voices to document their stories, counter-narratives, and experiences through inter-personal exchange. Her intentions are not to embellish upon theory or continue the research that has been performed. Rather, she hopes to compile their stories of empowerment and struggle to gain perspective into Pacific Island queer culture and their journey of negotiating their identities and self.
Ashley Shen, a junior majoring in American Studies and Clinical Psychology, will conduct research on how Asian American diasporic experiences with mental health differ by generation, both in terms of immigration generation and with respect to age. She will explore the question of how forced assimilation relates to mental health. Ashley will interview Asian American mental health workers and first and second generation members of Asian American families to find connections and gaps between Asian American experiences and existing clinical psychology theories and practices that are applied to Asian Americans in the present.
Seven American Studies majors were selected to receive a Ted Shapiro Memorial Award for 2015. They will be honored at an awards ceremony on Monday, April 13th. Welcoming remarks will be presented by Dean James Glaser. Mrs. Elaine Shapiro and her daughter, Ellen Wolfson, will be present along with friends, faculty and past winners.
Mary Elise Calnan, a junior studying environmental studies and American studies, will spend this summer exploring how art education can serve as a tool to engage children in environmental justice activism at an early age. Her experiences working within the Education Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, as well as volunteering at environmental justice organizations in Boston this summer, will inform this project and her senior thesis.
Sophia Goodfriend, a junior majoring in American Studies with a minor in Colonialism Studies,will draw on family history, interviews and fieldwork to unpack the ways in which centuries of diaspora, persecution, and trauma intersect with more recent histories of assimilation, integration and affluence to shape current understandings of what it means to be Jewish, Askenazi and White in the contemporary United States. Her work will focus on how White American Jewish identity plays out in relation to a global and heterogeneous Jewish diaspora.
Joyce Harduvel, a junior majoring in American Studies, plans to conduct original research on gentrification driven by the University of Chicago. She will obtain land acquisition records to create a map of the university's holdings, which is not currently available to the public. This will be used for her senior thesis.
Natalie Kobsa-Mark, a junior majoring in American Studies, will examine transnational Latino and Caribbean dance in Cuban, Haitian, Dominican, and Puerto Rican diaspora communities in New York City and in Miami, Florida. This research will form the basis of her senior thesis, which will study Caribbean dance forms as not just an art form, but as a tool of cultural and political survival.
Alexia Sanchez, a junior majoring in American Studies, plans to conduct research on the Mexican diaspora in California by focusing on the role of murals and street art in community, as a means of reclaiming space and empowerment. Some of the research will be done while she is an intern with Self Help Graphics & Art (SHG), a non-profit art center based in Los Angeles, California that supports Latino@ visual artists.
Phuong Ta is a junior American Studies major and a film minor. This summer, they will prepare to make a film documenting the experiences of first generation, racialized, and immigrant students from colleges in the Boston and Houston areas. The film, which will constitute them senior capstone project, will focus on the range of challenges encountered by first generation students of color encounter, from mental health issues, to racism and racial injury.
Wayne Yeh, a junior majoring in American Studies, will work with Boston Chinatown's Chinese Progressive Association, a grassroots community organization working to improve the living and working conditions of Chinese Americans. In preparation for a thesis, he hopes to deepen his understanding of Asian American organizing by documenting the history of Chinatown's housing stabilization and land trust campaigns as case studies for intergenerational community mobilization.
Six American Studies majors were selected to receive a Ted Shapiro Memorial Award for 2014. They will be honored at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Welcoming remarks will be presented by Dean Joanne Berger-Sweeney and Dean Jim Glaser.
Mrs. Elaine Shapiro and her daughter, Ellen Wolfson, will be present along with friends, faculty and past winners.
Munir Atalla, a junior majoring in American Studies, plans to do thesis research on Filipina domestic workers in his native Jordan. He will examine how race, gender, class and legal status, affect the daily lives of Filipino-Jordanians. Through non-fiction storytelling, he hopes to represent a marginalized immigrant community that is often invisible within national narratives.
Genesis Garcia, a junior majoring in American Studies, plans to produce a documentary on the Diploma Plus Program (DP) at Charlestown High School in Boston. Through her research, she hopes to discover what factors influence the decision for students to drop out of school or to put them academically at risk, and how DP is addressing these issues.
Jonathan Green, a junior double majoring in American Studies and Philosophy, will conduct original research on mindfulness and meditation practice among incarcerated Americans. He hopes to visit correctional facilities where he will participate in and observe mindfulness medication courses with inmates and practitioners. This project will be the foundation of his senior thesis.
Chrystal Koech, a junior majoring in American Studies, plans to document the work of MataHari: Eye of the Day, a Boston-based human rights organization, whose membership is women of color and immigrant women. Through interviews, she will study the organization's commitment to domestic workers and immigrants women's rights. It will also contribute to her senior thesis.
Gracie McKenzie, a junior American Studies major, and Cinema and Media Studies minor, would like to find an internship in investigative journalism, which will contribute to her senior project on the media representation of women in U.S. politics.
Goldhmong Vang, a junior majoring in American Studies, is a second-generation Hmong American. She is working to increase her knowledge of, and contribute her own research to, the history and study of Hmong Americans. Goldhmong plans to travel to California to conduct interviews with members of the Hmong community and organizations that lobbied for two memorials dedicated to Lao Hmong Veterans. Goldhmong will document her research in a photo essay book, and will also include it in her senior thesis.
Seven American Studies majors were selected to receive Ted Shapiro Memorial Awards in 2013. They were honored at an awards ceremony on Thursday, April 4, 2013. Welcoming remarks will be presented by Dean James Glaser, and Mrs. Elaine Shapiro was present along with family, friends, faculty and past winners.
John Asare, who is a senior majoring in American Studies and Africana Studies, traveled to Harlem, NY, Brooklyn, NY, Henrico, VA and San Diego, CA to talk with high school students. He is studying what high school students learn about the history of race and race relations. This research will contribute to his Senior Honors Thesis.
Gabriel Beckerman, a senior American Studies major, conducted research on how the racial makeup and disparities along the lines of race of the US are represented in dominant media consumed by Japanese high school and college students seeking to study in the US. His internship at the Sakae Institute for Study Abroad will serve as a crucial component to this work. The resulting paper will serve as the foundation of his senior project.
Jasmine Lee, a senior majoring in American Studies and Community Health, studied community gardens in Boston Chinatown and outside of Boston Chinatown, in order to study the impact of organic vegetables from community gardens on immigrant health in the U.S. She employs qualitative research, photography, and video, and this work will contribute to her Senior Honors Thesis.
Kara Lillehaug, senior in American Studies, conducted interviews with voters in the Somali American immigrant community of Minneapolis MN. Kara is writing a history of the Minneapolis Democratic Farmer Labor Party, in which Somali immigrant voters are playing an increasingly important role, particularly in one specific City Council race with a Somali-American candidate, Abdi Warsame. In her Honors Thesis, she will consider issues such as political redistricting, demographic changes in the city, and the history of the Somali community, as well as the City Council election.
Kathryn Selcraig is a senior American Studies major who spent her summer creating a website that will function like an archive and encyclopedia of histories of racism and resistance at Tufts. She focuses on documenting recent history of student activism from the 1950s-60s up to the present. This will be her American Studies SSP.
Erin Stone is a senior American Studies major who is researching the history of "eating disorders" as a raced, classed, and gendered discourse. She analyzes especially the language used in treatment programs, and considers normative ideas of person, health, race, class and gender that inform these treatment programs.
Ariela Westlake is a senior majoring in American Studies and Sociology. During the summer, she volunteered with the organization Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) in Northern California, and one of their programs, All of Us or None (AOUON), to learn about communities affected by the criminal justice system, especially structural racism in policing, courts, and prisons. She conducted interviews with staff members to learn about the broader prison abolition movement. Through her own participation as a volunteer at LSPC, she observed how formerly incarcerated people and their allies become catalysts for change in their communities. This work will contribute to her Senior Honors Thesis.
Nine American Studies majors were selected to receive 2012 Ted Shapiro Memorial Awards. They were honored at an awards ceremony on Thursday, April 12, 2012. Welcoming remarks were presented by Deans Joanne Berger-Sweeney and James Glaser. Mrs. Elaine Shapiro was present along with family, friends, faculty and past winners. The 2012 ceremony was extra special as faculty, students and alums gathered to honor Aaron Shapiro, who passed away in October 2012. Mr. Shapiro was a caring and generous man and he will truly be missed.
Amy Bean, a senior majoring in America Studies, conducted research on the history curriculum in Massachusetts public high schools. This project contributed to her Senior Special Project.
Brionna Jimerson, a senior majoring in American Studies, studied if and how colonization and displacement have altered the perception of 'blackness', 'American-ness' and nationality in the minds of Afro-Europeans. She completed this work while participating in the Tufts in Taillores summer program in France. This work eventually contributed to her Senior Honors Thesis.
Zoe Munoz, a junior majoring in American Studies, explored Cuban perceptions of the United States as well as US perceptions of Cuba while studying at the University of Havana as part of the Norfolk State University Summer Program in Cuba.
Alexa Sasanow, a senior majoring in American Studies, researched the connection and collaboration between African-Americans and Jewish-Americans around communism, socialism and labor in the early to mid-20th century in Northern California. This work contributed to her Senior Honors Thesis.
Erica Satin-Hernandez, a senior double majoring in American Studies and Community Health, conducted research on the intersection of healthy equity and racial justice at Community Change, Inc. in Boston. She is hopeful that her findings will be presented on their website and have a place in their library for future educational use.
Emma Scudder, a junior majoring in American Studies, traveled to the same places that were visited one hundred years ago by Tufts alumna, Olive Dame Campbell, in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. She examined the music culture of each area to look at the environmental and social justice issues in a region rattled by traumatic economic collapse and environmental health threats.
Kimberly Situ, a senior double majoring in American Studies and Chinese, studied the history of Asian immigration by visiting the Angel Island Immigration Station and San Francisco's Chinatown, to further her understanding of Asian immigration and has a personal connection to Angel Island. Her uncle and great-uncle came through there before settling in New York City.
Jared Snead, a senior majoring in American Studies, explored the tensions around the often interchangeable use of Black English as Ebonics at Prescott Elementary School in the Oakland Unified School District.
Gaia Weise, a senior majoring in American Studies, participated in the Bread & Puppet Summer Apprenticeship Program in Glover, Vermont. The Bread & Puppet Theater is one of the oldest, non-commercial, self-supporting theaters in the country. They have created politically and socially aware shows with commitment to community participants since 1963.