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Folk Studies Student Profiles and Projects

Lamont Jack Pearley is originally from Brooklyn, NY but came to WKU for our stellar public folklore program. He loves learning about methods of fieldwork to document culture, heritage, and tradition. He is inspired by his family’s roots and the story of his people. Lamont says it “makes what I do all the more important.”

Originally from Gilbert, Arizona, Ciara is interested in countercultures in the western world, specifically ones that are subversive, like skateboarding, train hopping, and punk music. Her interests also lay in religious studies and art history. 

Why WKU?

Ciara chose WKU for the great funding they offer for a world renowned masters program.

Cori is from Fort Wayne, Indiana and graduated from Indiana University in 2021 with a BA in Anthropology. She is interested in historic cemeteries, vernacular architecture, and memetic communication.  

Why WKU?

Cori chose WKU because of the one-on-one instruction with faculty and the incredibly high job placement rate of alumni. She loves the sense of community within the program.

Fun Fact:

Cori can’t wait to learn more about architecture and museum work, but she is also content reading a book cuddled up with her cat, Captain Sweet Potato O’Malley.

Justin graduated from WKU in 2022, but wanted to continue his education here in Bowling Green because he loves campus life and the great opportunities for development WKU offers. He can’t wait to learn more about different cultures around the globe, but supernatural folklore and internet culture are his thing!

Fun Fact:

Justin is a member of the WKU Greek Life Hall of Fame.

Katie graduated from WKU in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in English for Secondary Teachers. After working in our department’s office, she fell in love with the study of supernatural and religious folklore. Katie aims to better understand how to help communities through her research. 

Why WKU?

Katie chose WKU for the amazing faculty and ample opportunities to pursue her interests. 

Fun Fact:

Katie has a bunny named Pim!

Julie Hauri-Foster, 1984, "Two Hairdressers: Artistry and Communication"

Kathleen Young, 1983, "Ethnobotany: A Methodology for Folklorists"

Deborah Hall, 1983, "Using Folklore to Teach English as a Second Language"

Denis Kiely, 1983, "The Loving of the Game: A Study of Basketry in the Mammoth Cave Area"

Theresa Jureka, 1983, "Women and Work at the Turn of the Century: The Mrs. A.H. Taylor Dressmaking Company"

Jan Laude, 1982, "A Contemporary Female Psychic: A Folkloristic Study of a Traditional Occupation"

Ervin Mason, 1982, "A Study of the Biblical Narrative of Saul, Including Investigation of the Folktale and Proverb as Genres of Folk Narrative"

Nana Farris, 1982, "Ink in My Blood: The Folklore of a Commercial Print Shop"

Timothy Cochrane, 1982, "The Folklife Expressions of Three Isle Royale Fishermen: A Sense of Place Examination"

Edward McCurley, 1982, "A History of the Bowling Green Fire Department: A Look at Two Traditional Methodologies"

Martin Ostrofsky, 1982, "O. Henry's Use of Stereotypes in His New York City Stories: An Example of the Utilization of Folklore in Literature"

Debbie J. Gibson, 1981, "Folklore, Folklife and Still Photography: A Synergetic Approach"

Keith Ludden, 1981, "'No Bob Yet': A Collection of Narratives from Nobob, Kentucky"

John Marshall, 1981, "Barbecue in Western Kentucky: An Ethnographic Study"

Jan Alm, 1981, "A Sourcebook for the Interpretation of Traditional Dance by Outdoor Museums and Historic Sites"

Elizabeth Harzoff, 1981, "'They'd Have the Biggest Time You Ever Saw': Square Dances as Settings for Community Social Interaction in Trigg County, Kentucky Ca. 1920-1979"

R. Raymond Allen, 1981, "Old-Time Music and the Urban Folk Revival"

Gilbert Howard, 1981, "Fiddle Songs and Banjo Songs: A Description and Index"

Mary Weldy, 1980, "A Study of the Usefulness of Folkloric Topics in a Remotivation Technique Program with Institutionalized Elderly Persons"

George Reynolds, 1980, "Home, Loved Ones, and Heaven: Folk Expression in the Songs of Katherine O'Neill Peters Sturgil"

Kathryn Novak, 2023, Ghost Tour of Franklin, Kentucky

This project, a fundraiser for the Simpson County Literacy Center, included locating sites in downtown Franklin with supernatural legends attached to them; contacting and interviewing individuals with personal experiences to share; working with the organization to create the route and script of the tour; coordinating the first tour on October 22, 2022; and providing guidance on sustaining the tour into the future.

Georgia Ellie Dassler, 2021, Folklife's First Responders: How Folklorists Experience and Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States. 

"Folklife’s First Responders is a digital oral history exhibit based on interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021.... It presents excerpts of each interview, where folklorists, community scholars, and others who work to support traditional arts and artists reflect on their work in the time since the novel coronavirus reached the United States in early 2020."

Our students hold wide-ranging internships that build skills and provide networking opportunities. Past placements include the American Folklore Society, the National Park Service, the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and the Middle Tennessee State University Center for Popular Music. Some students have sought internships more regionally, through the Kentucky Folklife Program, WKU Library Special Collections, and various regional and state organizations, museums, and historical societies in Kentucky and Tennessee. Others have held internships out-of-state, including placements at the Vermont Folklife Center, Pennsylvania Folklife Archives, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, the Folk School of St. Louis, and even the National Trust for Ireland. Accounts of some recent examples are included below. 

During the summer of 2023, I was a Collections Intern at WKU’s Kentucky Museum. I assisted my supervisor, Registrar and Collections Curator Sandy Staebell with managing the quilt collection and preparing for the then-upcoming “Stitches in Time” exhibition. I was primarily responsible for archival research on the featured quilters and identifying quilt folklore. This included gathering information from recorded oral history interviews and other primary source artifacts. With this research, I wrote interpretive object labels and a text panel on the folklore of quilt pattern names. I was further tasked with selecting objects from the collection for display in three wall cases and subsequently writing their interpretive labels. I also handled approximately 40 quilts throughout the installation of “Stitches in Time” and a quilt-sleeve sewing project preparing quilts for display. In conclusion, from this internship, I believe I gained extensive familiarity with the practices of collections cataloging and storage, curatorial design and planning, textile handling and conservation, and museum management procedures and software.

During the summer of 2023 I interned at the Simpson County Historical Society and History Center. The historical society serves the Franklin area as an archive, museum, library, and community meeting space. Spread out in two historical buildings, both haunted, the exhibits range from history of local schools to the mysterious death of Captain Thomas Mantell. Throughout my internship I developed materials that would help staff and volunteers in the future. I created a scavenger hunt activity for younger visitors and their parents. I also developed an outline for volunteer tour guides to use as they familiarize themselves with the many exhibits and objects. Throughout my time at the history center I was able to work with the public by giving free tours of the museum or assisting with research. Meeting guests from all around the country was a wonderful experience and I loved being able to individualize each tour to a group’s interests.  As a final project I undertook giving the single case lithics exhibit a renovation. Creating interpretive labels and making the exhibit interactive presented an exciting challenge. I greatly enjoyed my time in Franklin, KY as it taught me about community involvement and gave me hands on experience in multiple roles that help a museum run smoothly.   

During the Summer of 2023, I completed the Luce Folk Art internship at the Kentucky Museum. Alongside curator Reagan Petty, we continued the ongoing project of digitizing the museum’s extensive collection of folk art. Reagan and I would locate specific pieces at the museum as well as the offsite storage that needed to be photographed, updated, or repackaged. I photographed several items and edited them using Photoshop. These photos would then be uploaded to the Past Perfect catalog so they would be accessible to other users. In addition, I composed research documents for many of these items, including information on the artists, donors, and art forms. The largest endeavor I took on was compiling the Handmade Harvest Collection document, which included items made by tobacco farmers and listed what information needed to be added to each entry in Past Perfect. This allowed us to thoroughly update records and re-edit photos as needed. Over the course of the ten week internship, I was able to learn many methods used to digitize museum collections and make them more accessible.

Over the summer of 2022, I completed an internship at the Kentucky Museum working with Jackson Medel and some of the Folk Art housed at the museum as part of the Luce Grant. I had the opportunity to research and handle the quilts in the collection, many of which are over 100 years old. We also attended the Hart County Fair Basket Making Contest and got to check out some of the beautiful White Oak Baskets that have become a point of pride for the region. 

This internship was a great experience that helped me remember why I love Museum work so much. It’s not always glamorous, but it’s always interesting. Getting to know Kentucky through some of its unique folk art traditions has been really fun.  Folk art takes so many shapes and sizes and this internship was a great chance to see what people create, how they create it and how time and place effect their choices.

In summer 2022, I interned at GLOW Traditions in Western New York under folklorist Karen Canning. My part in this internship was to assist in the completion of different goals, events and projects Karen was working on. Throughout this internship, I worked on writing a grant to NYSCA to fund an apprenticeship for a square dancing band called 'Kelly's Old Timers'. This grant would fund an apprenticeship between two members of the band so the apprentice could learn square dance calling. I also spent a lot of time talking to and cooking with Central and South American migrant farmworkers and their families. We did quite a lot of contact building for the 'Stories That Cook' project Karen was working on that takes migrant art, stories, and recipes and turns them into a cookbook. I also took time to organize, transport, and help digitize ethnographic fieldwork going back to the 1980s. Through this internship, I was also invited to speak and attend a routable for New York folklorists. There I was able to share my experience and work while socializing and listening to others in the same field. I feel that I gained invaluable experience doing public folklore, fieldwork, and grant writing that will inform how I continue to work with the public. I also gained many new friends, acquaintances, and colleagues I'm hopeful to see and work with again in the near future."

During the summer of 2021, I interned with the Heart of Scottsville, a Main Street America program in my hometown of Scottsville, KY. Under the supervision of the Executive Director, Hannah Brooks, I was able to work on a variety of preservation-related projects throughout my internship, including public outreach campaigns and fundraising development and execution. In addition, I updated and expanded the organization’s digital database in conjunction with local city government. I also assisted in writing two grant applications for potential projects within the community. Through the wide range of experiences, this internship allowed me to give back to my hometown by utilizing skills learned in my graduate Folk Studies and undergraduate Anthropology education. Though my internship is over, I am continuing to serve the organization in a volunteer capacity as a member of the Design Committee and hope to contribute to the organization’s continued success.

During the summer of 2021, I interned at WKU's Kentucky Museum and served under curator Jackson Medel. I worked with Medel, who, funded by the Henry Luce Grant, is tasked with cataloging and digitizing the Folk Art collection housed at the museum. This grant is part of a three-year curating project, with roughly 750 works to be reviewed. I was responsible for extensively researching the provenances and genealogies of a portion of the 313 quilts. I paid extra attention to the histories of the 36 crazy quilts within the collection as the museum was going to deaccession any that no longer fit the collection. I observed Laurel McKay Horton, a nationally recognized quilt scholar, as she worked with Medel to assess the 36 crazy quilts. With the help of Medel, I handled, assessed, and photographed 60 quilts from the collection. Overall, I feel I developed essential skills such as experience with PastPerfect, the museum's inner workings, and proper procedures in handling textiles. 

During the summer of 2021, I worked as an intern for the African American Museum-Bowling Green Area Inc., under the supervision of their Project Manager, Ms. Wathetta Buford. During the course of my internship, I worked to expand the museum’s research capacity through the creation of a spreadsheet-based content management system for their Library collections, as well as designing processes for the arrangement and description of their archival collections. I also helped increase the museum’s community engagement through promotion at various community events and through conducting two interviews with community members. The internship provided a plethora of opportunities that were complimentary to both my Folk Studies and existing Museum Studies (B.S., RIT Class of 2020) training, and I’m very grateful to have had this experience. If you’d like to learn more about the African American Museum, please check out their website, aambg.squarespace.com.

During summer 2021, I was an intern with South Union Shaker Village in Auburn, Kentucky.  During the course of the internship, I was able to work on a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the 1846 Ministry Shop.  Throughout the course of the internship, I learned a great deal about the preservation and restoration of a historic structure, the art of crafting a nomination, as well as museum processes and procedures.  My experience at South Union Shaker Village provided me with a fulfilling and multifaceted experiential learning opportunity. 

During the fall of 2020 I interned at The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and served under advisor Betty Belanus. I worked with Dr. Belanus, Arlene Reiniger, and three other interns on a team tasked with contributing profiles to the project, "American Ginseng: Local Knowledge, Global Roots"  as a part of "Earth Optimism," a year-long, Smithsonian-wide initiative highlighting improvements in environmental conservation. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of my fieldwork was virtual, though I was able to interview individuals in the Mammoth Cave area in addition to my virtual fieldwork. I also conducted archival research to find potential historical profile candidates in the Bowling Green area. I am continuing my internship into the spring of 2021, working with Dr. Belanus to create K-12 education activities and programming that will be available on the project's site once published.  

During the Summer of 2020, I served as the Folklife Intern at the North Carolina Arts Council (NCAC), supervised by Director of Folk and Traditional Arts Zoe Van Buren. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I worked remotely along with the rest of the NCAC staff. As a result, although the goals and tasks of my internship were similar to what they might have been had I worked in-person, the techniques and strategies I used, and what I learned from them, were often specific to the virtual environment. My role as Folklife Intern was centered around two main tasks: writing and editing five new profiles for the Millennial Traditional Artist Directory, an ongoing NCAC project connecting and supporting emerging cultural practitioners; and compiling and organizing folklife/traditional arts resources for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Teaching NC Arts tool, a virtual resource that encourages teachers in the state to incorporate the arts into their classrooms across all subjects. Additional tasks included as crafting social media content, updating print resources for artists, and outreach about grant opportunities. View NCAC Folk and Traditional Arts Programs, including the Millennial Traditional Arts Directory, here: https://www.ncarts.org/folk-and-traditional-arts. View the Teaching NC Arts website here: https://sites.google.com/dpi.nc.gov/artseducation/teaching-nc-arts-project.

In the  summer of 2020 I interned with Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts and Education. Local Learning connects folklorists, artists, and educators across the nation and advocates for the full inclusion of folklife and folk arts in education to transform learning, build intercultural understanding, and create stronger communities. Local Learning boasts an extensive list of national and regional resources for the purposes of engaging young people and educators with their own traditional culture and with the local culture folklore of their communities and the world at large. From these resources I documented which organizations shared creative responses to current events, such as COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, and compiled them into a new resource list to demonstrate how individuals and organizations are using folk-art to respond  to our current cultural climate. In addition to documenting creative response, I assisted in the publication of The Journal of Folklore and Education Volume 7 and created an activity for Local Learning’s “Learning Locally” series. This series seeks to encourage students to engage with their own folklore and culture at home through various folk art prompts. My favorite two weeks of the internship were the two weeks Local Learning hosted virtual professional development workshops. The “Culture, Community, and the Classoom” and “Teaching & Learning the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre” workshops allowed me to deepen my understanding of folklore and recognize the importance folklore in education.  

In the spring of 2019, I completed a 50-hour internship at the Kentucky Museum under the supervision of Sandy Staebell. The objective was to compile a document for use in selecting items for the “Political Bandwagon” exhibit (coming in 2020). To do this, I searched through the thousands of entries in the Rather-Westerman political collection. This document was intended to serve as a searchable list of both physical objects and paper ephemera that would be suitable for an exhibit tailored to Kentucky-specific political memorabilia. When finished, this document contained around 150 items from both the Kentucky Museum and Library Special Collections, and featured several tabs so that items could be grouped in helpful, thematic ways. This document was paired with a cover sheet explaining my process, how to use the final product, and other relevant notes. Overall, my internship experience was excellent! I have a personal interest in political memorabilia, so the content I was working with was exciting to me. I also appreciated being able to develop tangible, marketable skills like proficiency in PastPerfect - and being able to become more familiar with the inner workings of a museum.

During the summer of 2017, I worked as an intern at the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) in New York, New York. While interning, I worked primarily with the Folk Arts program, but also with the Museum program as well as the Director of Public Information. Working with the Folk Arts program, I reviewed and organized grant applications and accompanied the Folk Arts program director on site visits to applicant organizations. One of the highlights of the internship was the opportunity to meet all the folklorists doing great work in my home state. I was able to attend grant panel meetings and take notes for applicants to view upon request. I built on and applied my experience as the WKU Folk Studies program's graduate assistant in charge of social media by working on tasks assigned by the Director of Public Information. Over the course of the summer I attended multiple NYSCA funded events and wrote blog posts that were featured on the organization's blog, "The NYSCA Network." While interning, I honed my administration and organizational skills. Additionally, I learned, in detail, the structure of not just the folk arts field, but also the arts and museums fields in New York State. 

As an intern at the Hartman Rock Garden in Springfield, Ohio, I spent seven weeks working on interpretation and conservation under the supervision of Kevin Rose at the Turner Foundation. The Hartman Rock Garden was started in 1932 by H.G. “Ben” Hartman after he lost his job as a molder during the Great Depression. I spent the first several weeks writing object studies for the docent manual. In future, each volunteer will be given a manual that will provide basic rules about giving a tour, as well as the object studies, family history, archival photographs, and local Springfield history for individuals to read on their own time. In addition to training future docents, the manual will be the foundation of a written body of work about the art environment and guide future research. I researched two pieces: “God’s Gift to the World” and “Noah’s Ark.” I provided a short narrative of the piece in its current state and compared it to family photographs, noting the changes over time. The final weeks of my internship focused on hands-on conservation on “Noah’s Ark.” After passing my conservation plan to the board, I began my work. I weeded around the object, cleaned the concrete form, helped create two polyurethane turkeys after creating a silicone mold from the original metal turkey, and painted the remaining animal figurines. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative and I did not get to finish our full plan. My internship experience allowed me to work in the realities of a non-profit position. Because the garden is owned by two separate foundations, I saw how projects balanced the desire for tourism with the need to preserve objects so they can be further interpreted and remain part of the future of the garden.

I worked this summer as a historic preservation intern at South Union Shaker Village in Auburn, Kentucky. I worked on five different tasks over the course of the internship. Two were completing projects begun over the school year that utilized skills I had learned at previous internships and student jobs. I finished entering the museum’s collections card catalogue into a basic database, and I cleaned, sorted, and packaged for storage archaeological materials recovered in a brief salvage archaeology attempt in April. The other three tasks focused more on developing skill areas with which I had not had previous experience, but that I may need moving forward into a career in historic preservation. One was researching the Wash House, scouring the South Union record books and other primary sources for mentions of the building’s construction and history of use. Another was documenting the building pre-restoration, since extensive renovations completed in the 1970s reflect the Wash House’s later history as a worship, education, and living space for two orders of Catholic priests. Finally, over the last three weeks of the internship I helped with the restoration work itself, tearing out the modern wall paneling and ceilings to expose the 1850s Shaker plastering, woodwork, and elements such as fireplaces. Overall, my internship experience at South Union has been extremely valuable, not to mention fun. In combination with attending the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts’ Summer Institute in the middle of the summer, I have further developed my research skills, getting to work on projects that both relate to my personal interest in religious history and demonstrate how to do research using museum materials and that will be useful in a museum setting. 

I began my work at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico in May of 2017. This internship required my assistance in the curatorial and education sectors of the facility. In the first few weeks, I partnered with the curator of textiles and dress to prepare an exhibit book for “Beadwork Adorns the World.” My work on the book caused me to reflect on how the recontextualization of an object can be implemented through the organization of the overall book. I had to ask myself similar questions when an exhibit of Syrian folk art was erected in Lloyd’s Treasure Chest. My supervisor, Felica Katz-Harris, worked hands-on with myself and the head preparator to ensure that each object was displayed in such a way that its placement would lend proper assistance to visitor interpretation. Working with the education sector also helped me refine and reflect on my own methodology as I work towards becoming a public folklorist. As part of the education sector of my internship, I helped to clean out excess objects from the hands-on education collection. At the time, the museum was moving forward with the construction of a new auditorium, and me and three other education staff members were tasked with deaccessioning and donating education items to the annual folk art flea market or passing them on to other New Mexico state education associations. After combing through objects of all sorts, from religious items and shadow puppets to dress up trunks, we were asked to debrief with the education director and conceive new methods of deciding how the collection would expand and operate moving forward. I now understand how integral my ethnographic training as a folklorist has been in building rapport with the people I collaborate with, including students and artists. I feel that my responsibility lies with these groups first and, as a curator, I would be educating visitors by extension as I work to adequately recontextualize objects and information.

During the summer of 2017, I interned with the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange (RUX).  RUX describes themselves as “a statewide program that brings rural and urban people together in unique community settings over three, weekend-long intensives each summer,” as a way to “explore commonalities, deepen connections to people and places, and collaborate towards place-based innovation.”  The primary component of my internship was planning the Bowling Green Community Intensive.  Through this, I was able to put my folklore skills to work by curating an experience for RUX participants that reflected the culture, history, landscape, and identity of South Central Kentucky from multiple perspectives.  I organized a variety of experiences that allowed community members to share their stories in environments that allowed for interaction and dialogue between community members and RUX participants.  I also gained experience handling the logistical considerations of the Community Intensive, such as securing lodging, serving as the liaison for sites and partners, and attracting local sponsorship.  Furthermore, I was tasked with organizing a host committee.  Serving as the leader for the host committee gave me experience in coordinating a group, running meetings, and delegating tasks.  The second part of my internship involved documenting the three Community Intensives and creating media pieces (photo essays and short films) for RUX, which share stories from the people, communities, and places we interacted with during the weekends.  Through this, I’ve been able to further develop my skills in storytelling and fieldwork, as well as photography, filmmaking, and writing.

Outstanding Graduate Student

Kaythryn Novak, 2023

Kayt completed an internship with the Kentucky Museum, supported by a Henry Luce Foundation grant to digitize their Folk Art collection, and a capstone project, directed by Dr. Kate Horigan, that culminated in a ghost tour that served as a fundraiser for the Simpson County Literacy Center. She served as a graduate assistant for the Kentucky Folklife Program during her two years in the MA program. Upon graduation, Kayt accepted a position as a Festival Assistant with the National Council for the Traditional Arts.

Taylor Dooley Burden, 2022

Taylor interned with Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts and Education, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH), the Kentucky Folklife Program, and Traditional Arts Indiana. Her capstone project, advised by Brent Bjorkman (Kentucky Folklife Program) and in partnership with Jon Kay (Traditional Arts Indiana), was a folklife survey of southern Indiana. Taylor is on the Steering Committee of the Midwest Folklorists and Cultural Workers Alliance and is the Reviews Editor for the Journal of Folklore and Education. Following graduation, Taylor received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Georgia Ellie Dassler, 2021

Ellie exemplifies excellence in scholarly and applied research and professional activities. In her time as an MA student, Dassler presented her research at the American Folklore Society, wrote two successful grant applications, secured two prestigious internships, completed a capstone project, served as editorial assistant for the Journal of American Folklore and as the graduate assistantship with the Kentucky Folklife Program. Ellie also received the Potter College of Arts and Letters Outstanding Graduate Student award. Following graduation, Ellie accepted the position of Assistant Director of Traditional Arts with the regional arts organization South Arts.

Zahra Abedinezhadmehrabadi, 2020

Zahra was the 2019-2020 Outstanding Graduate Student for Folk Studies and also for Potter College of Arts and Letters. During her time at WKU, Zahra not only excelled in her courses but gained national recognition when she was awarded the Elaine J. Lawless Prize by the Folk Belief and Religious Folklife Section of The American Folklore Society. Her thesis, drawing on her law background and grounded in ethnographic research in the US and Iran, is titled “‘I Choose the Styles Which Are Both Traditional and Artistic’: Iranian Women’s Ways of Dress.” Beginning in Fall 2020, Zahra will pursue her PhD in Comparative Studies and Folklore at The Ohio State University, where she has been awarded a Distinguished University Fellowship.

Eleanor Miller, 2019 

Eleanor completed her MA in Folk Studies with a concentration in Historic Preservation. She completed three internships while in our program: with Local Learning, which works nationally to promote folklore and education initiatives; with the Historic Preservation Coordinator of Bardstown on the creation of a city archive; and with Pine Mountain Settlement School, working on K-12 Environmental Education curriculum. She served as a graduate assistant in the Education Department at the Kentucky Museum and served as the PCAL student representative on the Graduate Council, among her many accomplishments.

Nicole Musgrave, 2018

Nicole was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Graduate Student in Folk Studies Award, the Potter College of Arts and Letters Outstanding Graduate Student Award, and the John D. Minton Graduate Student Award (the highest honor for a WKU graduate student). During her time as a student Nicole worked as a graduate assistant with the Kentucky Folklife Program where she learned invaluable hands-on experience in public folklore work which she will utilize after graduation as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member with Hindman Settlement School, where she will help expand their Folk Arts Education Program. Her interests include foodways, health, and Appalachian culture.

Rachel Haberman, 2017
Rachel Haberman is perhaps best known in our department as the Folklore Trivia Queen, a coveted title among students taking Dr. Ann Ferrell’s Folklore Theory course. She has been outstanding as a student, assistant, intern, and member of our community. In classes she’s shown herself to be very bright, very conscientious, and creative. She is a leader in class discussions and writes excellent research papers. One of her professors especially remembers her paper for a Folk Art class about her father's carpentry. He recalls, “she did a wonderful job looking not only at his artistry, but at the way it serves as a kind of communication in the family.” In her graduate assistantship, she has worked on everything from processing fieldwork data and compiling reference works, to guest lecturing on graffiti in Haiti and witchcraft in Kentucky, to creating a tombstone craft project for the PCAL Fall Festival. She has a wide range of skills and a willingness to help as needed. After her work cataloging, organizing, and inventorying Kentucky Museum collections, her supervisor wrote “Rachel is a real keeper and will do well anywhere she lands”—we certainly agree and wish her well as she decides where that might be.


Cam Collins Outstanding Undergraduate Folklore Minor

Claire Coleman, 2023

Claire first came to Folklore via Dr. Ferrell’s Oral History course, where as she put it, “there was a profound shift in the way I saw the world when I realized there was an entire group of people whose passion was to collect what it was like to be human.”  She has demonstrated her commitment to ethnographic fieldwork and her keen interest in local culture in all her folklore classes, for example conducting interviews with the founder of nearby Lost River Cave. She has been a warm and welcome presence in our program, volunteering at events such as our Folklore Minor Mini-Fair. Claire is also outstanding in her Major program of History, where she will continue on to pursue her Master’s degree.

Brielle Freeman, 2022

Brielle was a Biological Anthropology major and a folklore minor. She interned with the Kentucky Folklife Program (KFP) in summer 2021, creating “Voices of Southcentral Kentucky Music: An Oral History Zine” based on the KFP’s ongoing project documental the musical legacy of Southcentral Kentucky.

Hannah Hudson, 2021

Hannah is an anthropology major (cultural anthropology track). She has a 4.0 GPA, not only in her Folklore classes but in all her classes. Hannah’s work combines a mastery of ideas with an interest in applying them to real world issues such as institutional sexism. The topics she has researched as a folklore minor, so far, include sexism in the gaming world, feminist coding in the performances of contemporary Black women rappers, and folk healing and medical tourism in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. 

Alicyn K. Newman, 2020

Alicyn is a Creative Writing major and a Folklore minor. She is from Scottsville, KY, where she grew up in a restored log house. With a 4.0 GPA in her Minor, Alicyn’s work in Folklore classes has paralleled her excellence in English, where she won 1st place in the Mary Ellen and Jim Wayne Miller Celebration of Writing. She passed with honors in her defense of her thesis, “The Bird, the Oak, and the Stories that Build Us,” a creative recounting of her family’s oral traditions featuring the stories of her grandfather. Her future plans include a summer internship with a nonprofit organization in Louisville, KY; writing the first draft of her novel; and continuing to explore her family's storytelling traditions and Appalachian roots.

Hunter C. Ricketts, 2020

Hunter is a Biology major and a Folklore minor. He has worked as an EMT at the Medical Center EMS for two years and interned at the WeCare clinic for one year. He is attending the University of Pikeville’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in the fall, and is interested in providing medical care to underserved communities in Kentucky. With a perfect 4.0 GPA in his Folklore minor, Hunter’s work demonstrates the importance and urgency of interdisciplinary work between folklore and medicine: that is, understanding folk cultures helps make our medical systems more effective and more equitable. We wish Hunter well in his journey to his DO, and know he will carry his training of folklore forward to do great things in his career.

Hannah Banks, 2019

Hannah Banks is a Folk Studies minor and an Anthropology major with concentrations in cultural resource management and biological anthropology. She will be graduating in December 2019, and is currently in process of submitting an application to the Masters program in Folk Studies at WKU. She is interested in working with the intersection of folklore and medicine, and working to develop culturally responsive health programs within multicultural communities. She will spend the summer of 2019 studying in Mongolia with Dr. Houle. 

Hunter J. Bowles, 2018

Hunter was a double History and Anthropology major with a minor in Folk Studies. Hunter took his first Folk Studies class with Dr. Tim Evans. We are looking forward to having Hunter as a graduate student in the Folk Studies M.A. program next year!

Jennifer Walworth, 2018

Jennifer was a Biology major with minors in Folk Studies and Outdoor Leadership. During her time in the program Jennifer has taken many classes with our department and looks forward to using her folk studies skills while pursuing a career with the National Park Service.

Ariel Moore, 2017
Although only a junior this year, Ariel has already earned distinction with a perfect GPA in her six folklore courses. She is consistently outstanding in her contributions to class, whether through original ethnographic research, thoughtful engagement with assigned texts, or insightful participation in discussion with classmates. We look forward to seeing what Ariel will do next!




237 Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center  |  Potter College of Arts and Letters  |  Western Kentucky University  |   1906 College Heights Blvd. #61029  |  Bowling Green, KY 42101-1029  |  Email: fsa@wku.edu | Phone: (270) 745-6549  |  Fax: (270) 745-6889   

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 Last Modified 9/10/23