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Student Thesis Fellowship

The DEIA Committee’s (DEAIC) Student Thesis Fellowship program encourages and financially supports selected UArts students in their senior year to develop creative works or projects in the Philadelphia area,  with the focus of advocating for, raising awareness for and lifting the voices of marginalized communities.

Seniors from each undergraduate school and graduate school representatives will be selected to participate. The project will serve as the student’s project/thesis to complete their degree requirements.

School of Art: Melanie Ruggiero ’23 (Fine Arts)
School of Dance: Kathryn Szykman ’23 (Dance)
School of Design: Ria Das ’23 (Graphic Design)
School of Film: Leila Ibrahim ’23 (Film)
School of Graduate and Professional Studies: Arianna Ho ’23 (Museum Exhibition Planning & Design), Jason Vu ’23 (Dance)
School of Music: Mel Eager ’23 (Music Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology) 
School of Theater: Tyler Econa ’23 (Directing, Playwriting & Production)

2024 applications will open in November 2023.

Being a DEIA fellow meant taking my thesis from a conceptual idea to a tangible product that people could read and interact with. On top of that it allowed me to connect back to my culture by visiting my homeland, India, and being able to engage with the written language of Hindi more intimately.
— Ria Das ’23

2023 DEIA Thesis Fellows

Melanie Ruggiero - School of Art

The DEIA Fellowship was such an amazing opportunity to have gained being at University of the Arts, because it allowed me to fully give my all into my Thesis Senior Showcase and support my Art Career without feeling restricted. Especially to be also seen for including DEIA into my own artwork as I too feel that it's important and impactful for artists and others alike to be represented and heard. I am so appreciative that my talents were recognized and rewarded to further support my artistic passions because I myself wouldn't have been able to do so the way I wanted to wholeheartedly without help from the Fellowship. The DEIA Fellowship allowed me to grow in my art and that impact I am so grateful for.

Melanie's website

Katie Szykman - School of Dance

The DEIA fellowship gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of how we view dance. Through this fellowship I was able to come up with three main ways to make the viewing of dance more accessible, haptics, audio descriptions, and an ASL interpreter. It has allowed me to kick start my post-grad research and give me the tools to continue advancing accessibility within dance.

Katie's website

Mel Eager - School of Music

The DEIA Thesis Fellowship has helped me make the senior project of my dreams. My goal was to create an interactive gallery that got faculty thinking about ways they can help aid students with learning disabilities. Being able to freely create immersive technology opened up avenues for me that I wouldn’t have had prior.

Mel's portfolio

Arianna Ho - School of Graduate and Professional Studies

The DEIA Fellowship was instrumental in pursuing my thesis work. To start, the application helped me understand my work in a broader context and investigate how I could contribute to the UArts and Philadelphia community. The financial support enabled me to expand my reach and more fully realize my vision by covering costs for materials and services. Finally, Stephen was really helpful in providing more access to university resources and giving overall support and encouragement along the way.

Arianna's website

Daniel Rosendale - School of Film - Honorable Mention

The DEIA fellowship program not only does fantastic work to bridge the gaps between these majors, but does so in an all-inclusive, all-loving way. On a personal note, the DEIA fellowship program gave me invaluable financial assistance with the production of my senior thesis film, Be Thyself, which follows a queer man being judged by God through a game show, and was vital to pushing the film all the way to completion. Integral in such a push, undoubtedly, was Stephen Cirino, Director of the DEI, who not only is a warm, kind, fascinating person, but also a true champion of the people. I quite literally could not have finished my thesis film, or my senior year, without Stephen and the DEIA.

Be Thyself