Meet Our Students and Alumni

Folklore students taking part in the Ireland Field School 2020
Folklore students taking part in the Ireland Field School 2020

Who Are Our Students?

Our program includes students from various academic backgrounds including English, anthropology, education, cultural studies, music, theater, and art. Program applicants are secondary school teachers, work for government agencies or cultural institutions, or are recent graduates of undergraduate programs. Students complete the program both part time and full time.

Alumni Spotlights:

Claire Denny
Denny (MAIS ’21) is the Folklore Programs Coordinator at the Arts Institute of Middlesex County in New Jersey, where she works within the Folklore and Cultural Heritage Division of the Arts and History branch of the county government. She coordinates various Folk Arts in Education Initiatives, maintains the archives of the Arts Institute, assists with public programs, and conducts fieldwork.

Violeta Palchik
Palchik (MAIS ‘21) is Director of Folklife for Staten Island Arts. While at Mason, Palchik helped with programming for the Richmond Folklife Festival and directed NYC’s annual Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival. As Staten Island’s folklorist, she brings together the diverse communities of Staten Island through their food, music, art, and poetry.

Kerry Kaleba
Kaleba (MAIS ‘16) is a Grants Associate at the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. Kaleba also earned her MA in Arts Management from George Mason University and is a seasoned arts administrator with experience with festival and event management.

Kimberly Stryker
Stryker (MAIS ‘15) is an independent folklorist and recipient of the 2018 Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to document Virginia winemaking. Stryker is a frequent public speaker on topics of popular interest related to folklore such as holiday traditions, Mardi Gras, May Day, Wassailing, and the occupational culture of orcharding.

Chrissy Widmayer
Widmayer (Certificate ‘13) directs “Community Powered,” a project of Wisconsin Humanities. She has spent the past decade teaching courses in folklore, writing, oral history, and religious studies, while also taking on positions in the public humanities. Widmayer is a founder, content creator, and education director at Folkwise, which seeks bring folklore to diverse audiences through public access-style new media programing on Twitch, YouTube, and social media.

Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman
Cleto (MAIS ‘12) and Warman (MAIS ’12) founded the Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic, an online program offering courses on fairy tales, folklore, writing, and related subjects. In 2019, Carterhaugh received the Dorothy Howard Prize from the Folklore and Education Section of the American Folklore Society.

Kristina Downs

Downs (MAIS ‘07) is the Secretary-Editor/Executive Director of the Texas Folklore Society at Tarleton State University and Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Languages. In addition to teaching classes in folklore, she also coordinates the partnership between TFS and the Tarleton College of Liberal and Fine Arts.