In Their Words: Katie Slocum, Deans' Award for Undergraduate Research recipient

May 27, 2015

Katie Slocum, a student in the division's Anthropology department, recieved a Deans' Award for Undergraduate Research for her paper, "From Farmlevel to Streetlevel: an Ethnography of Direct Trade Coffee Production in Santa Barbara, Honduras."

Congratulations Katie!



What year are you?

Fourth year, Senior



Where do you call home?

I’m from the oak and manzanita dotted central foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains: an historic mining town called Sonora, a place that has served as a homebase in an otherwise vagrant existence that has spanned four states and multiple towns. It’s a lovely place where my father also grew up and still lives, and it has many happy memories, most of which revolve around the community college called Columbia College, nestled into a thick wood much like UCSC. I loved my time in Sonora and at Columbia where I was educated by my mentors Dr. Paula Clarke and Professor Ted Hamilton to exhibit true student behavior under times of intense stress and challenging scholarship. Their pedagogy, socratic classrooms, endless guidance and support laid the foundation for who I became as a student and as a person. I’ve been lucky to call Santa Cruz home now for over two years.

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out?

I chose UCSC because attending a UC was important to me, and the location can’t be beat. I was a transfer student and I started living in Santa Cruz about a year before I began attending the UC, so I had time to settle into the community. Mountains, ocean, multicultural, artistic, progressive, chill, laid back, great food, coffee, people. What more could you ask for?

What is your field of focus?

I have been working in the coffee industry for ten years and I’m fascinated by people and the many hands along the supply chain, so I chose to focus on that.

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz? 

I’m looking forward to proudly continuing my work at Verve Coffee Roasters, hopefully as a wholesale coordinator or social impact advisor. I’m obsessed with coffee and I want to make sure my company sticks to its ethical business model which was the subject of my research and is the reason Verve has reached such success in such a short amount of time. Because of my love of people, farmers and customers, coworkers, I want to use what I’ve learned to perpetuate those ideals and advocate for social justice.

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here?

This quarter has been the best quarter I’ve had so far, and it stands out because of the passion of my teachers, like Professor Ben Carson. I’ve been lucky to have met some great professors here like Annapurna Pandey, Nancy Chen, Megan Moodie, Danilyn Rutherford, Matthew Wolf-Meyer, Jon Daehnke, Mark Anderson, Christine King and awesome visiting professors like John Marlovitz from Community Studies. Not to mention hardworking TAs like Holly Johnson, Lilian Thaoxaochay and Linnea Beckett.

What is your one piece of advice for incoming students about life at UC Santa Cruz?

Be proactive about your classes, crashing and auditing, form relationships with professors, be persistent and have personal initiative, and buy a bicycle. Seriously, bike shuttle up and catapult down the hill in seconds on your way home.

How will this scholarship impact your academic life /research?

Performing this research was my goal even before I matriculated at UCSC, and to see it come to fruition was exciting and emotional. To me, it serves as a culmination of all my academic progress and is the confluence of the many rivers that all lead to the ocean of life beyond the school phase of my life. In his poem “Ulysses,” Tennyson wrote, “All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.” These are my favorite lines of poetry, and to me it means that all we do, all we learn, all we see becomes a part of us and helps us move through a world that develops greater meaning for us as we travel through it. This research was a unity of my personal and academic life and winning the award was an unexpected, delightful way to end my academic career. Because of the thesis I produced, I was able to share my prowess and passion with the people for whom I work and it has consequently opened doors for me in my professional life. For that I am proud of myself, and eternally grateful to everyone who supported me and made this possible.