Skip to main content

Previous Honors Program
Projects and Testimonials

Interested in the department's Honors Program? Check out these testimonials from past program participants!

Recent Honors Projects are also detailed below. 

Past Participant Testimonials

ug-honors-alum-aranda-kat.pngKatherine Aranda

UCLA MFA Candidate | Producer's Program 2022
UCSD Department of Communication 2017

What was your honors project?

My honors project was a short documentary on the roots of Asian American representation in entertainment.

What did you enjoy most about the honors program?

I enjoyed working closely with my faculty mentors because to this day, I still keep in touch with them and they have helped me so much to get to where I am today in my career.

How did completing the honors program help you after graduation?

I had a tangible product to say "I made a short documentary". In making the film, I realized more of what I liked and didn't like about the filmmaking process which led me to want to apply to graduate programs in Film or Journalism to expand my documentary more. When I was in the honors program, I wanted to be a director in control of the narrative but I found that being a producer had just as much power in shaping the story and logistics of the project so I fell in love with that and wanted to become a film producer. Overall, the honors program was a critical part in helping me figure out what I wanted my career to be.

Would you recommend participating in the honors program?

To be honest, I never considered the honors program because I didn't want to do a lot of work. It's senior year and I just wanted to soak up the last year in San Diego in case I moved out of the city. I was encouraged by PhD student Nalini Asha Biggs who was a huge mentor of mine to enroll in the program and to make a documentary instead of a research paper. I didn't know that was a possibility and she knew that I was passionate about Asian American media representation so she linked me with Prof. Patty Ahn (who was new at the time) to be my faculty mentor with Prof. Angela Booker. It was a match made because we were both passionate about the subject (this is pre-Crazy Rich Asians). The close mentorship you receive from faculty professors is something that I don't think you can get anywhere else. It was a fulfilling experience for me because now I'm an expert on the topic and it benefits me in where I am in my career right now to advocate for AAPI media representation in creative leadership. The program is what you make of it and if you have an idea you're passionate about with the right supporters of your vision then totally do it.

Where are you now?

I'm in my second year in UCLA's MFA Producer’s Program. I'm planning to work in TV development once I graduate in June and my goal is to be a TV studio executive.

ug-honors-alum-dolatshahi-hamoun.pngHamoun Dolatshahi

Producer Assistant, A24 Netflix Series BEEF
MFA Candidate 2023
UCLA Theater Film Directing and Producing
UCSD Department of Communication 2017

What was your honors project?

Investigating construction of identity within second-generation Iranian youth in southern California.

What did you enjoy most about the honors program?

I worked with a group of highly motivated and inspiring people who researched fascinating subjects in various mediums of communications. It was a challenge that helped me push myself as a student and experience what it's like to conduct research, collect data, interview, read fascinating authors and try to make sense of my findings. I learned more about myself and worked with an amazing community to advance my writing, reading, understanding, and focus.

How did completing the honors program help you after graduation?

My final project more than anything boosted my confidence. I felt capable, proud, and ready for the next chapter of my life. Besides that, my research helped me become a competitive candidate for my jobs/grad school.

Would you recommend participating in the honors program?

Absolutely! One of my best decisions at UCSD. I recommend you find a professor who knows most about your interest, has time, and is passionate about your project. Also, feel free to talk to other professors and colleagues about your research during the class. This will require more time and focus but it will help you prepare yourself to pursue your interest/project with life-changing mentorship and experiences.

Where are you now?

I have one more year of grad school to finish my MFA in filmmaking at UCLA. I took two quarters off to work on a Netflix TV show produced by A24 as an assistant director/producer.

ug-honors-alum-wong-ivy.pngIvy Wong

UCSD Department of Communication / Sociology 2021

What was your honors project?

For my honors project, I wrote a research paper about the show euphoria and a fan practice called "vidding", showing that fans express their identities through the creation of "vids". I watched fan-made videos of euphoria and conducted online ethnographies on online fan spaces.

What did you enjoy most about the honors program?

I really enjoyed that the program allowed you to research any topic you were interested in. Not only did we have flexibility and independence, but the research advisors were also extremely helpful in guiding us to help us achieve our research goals!

How did completing the honors program help you after graduation?

Completing the honors program was a tremendous help for me in securing my current job position as well as applying to grad schools!

Would you recommend participating in the honors program?

I'd definitely recommend this to people who want to pursue grad school in the future. It's a really great thing to have on your CV and it preps you for the kinds of research you would do in grad school.

Where are you now?

Currently I am the Social Media Coordinator at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. I will also be attending grad school at Columbia University in Fall to pursue the Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences masters program.

ug-honors-alum-posada-melissa.pngMelissa Posada

UCSD Department of Communication 2020

What was your honors project?

The title of my project was: Spaces of Expression and Growth for QPOC Students in Higher Education and on Social Media.

What did you enjoy most about the honors program?

I enjoyed having a close-knit group of students who were also very dedicated and passionate about Communication studies. I also appreciated learning about how social sciences research works. Working with my advisor was also an amazing experience!

How did completing the honors program help you after graduation?

It solidified my desire to apply to grad school. Doing the research itself provided me with so many opportunities to learn from others as well.

Would you recommend participating in the honors program?

Yes! It is a fair amount of work, so I think it's helpful to have a lighter class load, especially in the final quarter of the program.

Where are you now?

I work for Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA as a Faculty and Contextual Education Program Assistant.

Recent Honors Projects


2022-23 Honors Student Theses

Ashley Bui
"Superheroes and Dancing Princesses: Value Perception by Audiences on Franchising and Merchandising Entwined with the Film Industry"
Advisor: Professor Andrew deWaard

Jiyu Chen
"Self-presentation of Different Personal Traits in Political Campaigning: A Case Study"
Advisor: Professor Thomas Schmidt

Yibin Fan
"Disability Imaginary"
Advisor: Professor Brian Goldfarb

Laurel Feldner
"This is, like, Totally Bogus: The “Valley Girl” as Media Phenomenon"
Advisor: Professor Shawna Kidman

Adeline Ho
"In the World of a Dating Sim: The Rise of Otome Isekai"
Advisor: Professor Stefan Tanaka

Alexa Hornedo
"Safe Space as Situated Practice: Sappho’s Cafe and the Queering of Space, Safety, and Community"
Advisor: Professor Patrick Anderson

Zara Irshad
"Stand-up to Stardom: Navigating Brown Comedy and Its Social Repercussions"
Advisor: Professor Shawna Kidman

Bara'ah Oriqat
"Resisting with Joy: Palestinians and Their Fight for Liberation"
Advisor: Professor Patty Ahn

Ho-Hsin Wang
"Lost in Transitions: The Power, Privilege, and Positionality of Sofia Coppola and Her Films"
Advisor: Professor Andrew deWaard

2019-20 Honors Student Theses

Haley Higa
"Stay HomeToday…To Travel Tomorrow: The Geopolitics of Tourist Infrastructure Space"
Advisor : Professor Matilde Córdoba Azcárate

Michelle Mkhlian
"Hayaser* : Armenian-Americans’ views on life, love, and marriage post-trauma"
Advisor : Professor Zeinabu irene Davis
* Armenian for someone who loves their culture / is patriotic. “Haya” meaning Armenia and “ser” meaning love.

Melissa Posada
"Spaces of Expression and Growth for QPOC Students in  Higher Education and on Social Media"
Advisor : Professor Angela Booker

Megan Shimizu
"Art in the Age of Artificial Intelligence"
Advisor: Professor Kelly Gates

Yuxin Yang
"Understanding Young Adults’ TikTok Usaage----Real People, Creative Videos that Make Your Day"
Advisor: Professor Caroline Jack

Audrey Yeung 
"#NoGeotag: An Analysis on Wanderlust and Geotagging in  an Influencer’s Social Media Toolbox"
Advisor: Professor Matilde Córdoba Azcárate

Projects are also available on the department's Youtube page.