UC San Diego News Center


Graduate Students Recognized for Commitment to Diversity

UC San Diego only West Coast university with chapter in national Bouchet Graduate Honor Society

Bouchet group photo

The 2012 UC San Diego inductees are Chanda Carey, visual arts; Carolyn Chen, music; Miao-Ping Chien, chemistry; Mike Navarro, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Stevie Ruiz, ethnic studies; Nick Saenz, history; Sonya Seif-Naraghi, bioengineering; Kimberly Stiemke, education studies; Dennis A. Young, bioengineering; and Melanie Zauscher, mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Ten UC San Diego graduate students were recently inducted into the prestigious Bouchet Graduate Honor Society in recognition of their outstanding scholarly achievement and work towards promoting diversity in higher education. The induction ceremony took place at the annual Bouchet Conference on Diversity in Graduate Education held at Yale University, where the new members joined faculty, administrators and fellow students from across the country to discuss this year’s conference theme, “Determining the Future of Diversity Discussions.”

“The experience was eye-opening,” said Mike Navarro, a Ph.D. candidate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and one of the new members. “It stimulated thought about how higher education could be, and how it actually is now.”

UC San Diego is the only school on the West Coast with a chapter in this national society. Founded in 2005 by Yale University and Howard University, the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society is named for the first African-American doctoral recipient in the United Sates, Edward Alexander Bouchet. The society seeks to develop a network of preeminent scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence and foster environments of support for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in academia. The UC San Diego chapter was established in 2008, with the first members inducted in spring 2009.

“Through the Bouchet Society, we’re establishing a cohort of UC San Diego graduate students who are committed to diversity in higher education,” said Kim Barrett, dean of Graduate Studies at UC San Diego. “It’s also a way for the university to celebrate and show appreciation for the work that these students are doing.”

Bouchet group photo

The UC San Diego students’ travel to Yale for the Bouchet Conference was made possible thanks to donated airline tickets from Southwest Airlines

At the conference, four UC San Diego Ph.D. candidates presented their research, including James G. Williams from the department of music, who received the conference award for best oral presentation in the humanities. Williams’s presentation, “Improvising on Feedback Piano: Aesthetic Discourses Behind Music Technology and Sound,” examined how belief systems influence creative practices that involve music improvisation and experimental instruments.

“Both performance practices and the creation of experimental music technology is shaped by our backgrounds and experiences,” explained Williams, who was inducted into the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society in 2011. “My study shows that diverse representations of music research can only happen with diversity in higher music education.”

Williams continued: “The opportunity to present my work at the Yale conference was a wonderful experience. I’d like to thank Professor David Borgo for nominating me for the society and Martha Stacklin of the UC San Diego Center for Teaching Development, who was instrumental in helping me shape a winning presentation.”

In addition to the presentations, the conference was an opportunity for graduate students to network with other scholars from across a variety of academic disciplines who are committed to diversity in higher education.

“Being involved with the Bouchet Society has created a sense of community for me at UC San Diego,” added Navarro. “This society is about celebrating the academic achievements of our different cultures and creating a more welcoming environment for our university.”

Like many of the Bouchet Society students, Navarro is involved with several programs aimed at enhancing diversity at UC San Diego, including the Grassroots Diversity Action Working Group, which aims to increase the inclusivity and diversity of the Scripps Oceanography community through outreach and educational activities. Now, Navarro is looking forward to working with his fellow UC San Diego Bouchet Society members on a project he hopes will help foster a stronger sense of identity at UC San Diego, and appreciation for the various cultures that make up the university.    

“We’re still figuring out the details of what our project will look like, but we’re all very excited to see how we can make an impact on campus and raise awareness about our university’s cultural history,” said Navarro. “We’re the only university on the West Coast to have a chapter in the Bouchet Society. I think that speaks to UC San Diego’s effort to become a leader in inclusion.”

The UC San Diego students’ travel to Yale for the Bouchet Conference was made possible thanks to donated airline tickets from Southwest Airlines. For more information about supporting diversity initiatives at UC San Diego, visit