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Community Connections Fellowship

The UC San Diego Arts and Community Engagement initiative offers an annual fellowship for graduate students to create meaningful partnerships with community organizations, with an eye toward education, engagement and divergent experiences with the visual and performing arts.

Student initiated, the fellowships enable students to carry out clearly defined projects related to their area of interest, providing students with an opportunity to build community through the arts while also gaining practical experience that may influence their research, academic focus or career trajectory. 

“The arts offer a unique way to understand the world that connects and surrounds us. We experience different perspectives; we are moved, inspired and renewed. More than this, the arts can be a key element in bringing people from divergent viewpoints together to create vibrant communities, in which many voices are heard and welcomed, and society itself can be transformed.” — Susan Narucki, Arts and Community Engagement director

The 2020 – 2021 Fellows

Teresa Diaz de CossioTeresa Díaz de Cossio, Department of Music

The Festival de Música Nueva, Ensenada is a new music program that will gather UC San Diego faculty and graduate students, and musicians from the south of the border in Ensenada, México. In collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, they will be leading a series of workshops, classes and concerts open to the community.

Project Updates

Update August 2020: Díaz de Cossio has been coordinating the content of group classes with the instructors, now 21 total and including guest faculty to help teach instrumental lessons. As the evolution of COVID-19 continues, it seems reasonable to push the event to the summer of 2021.

While the first scenario is to do this in person, if it is unsafe to do so the organizers will do the activities online. The planning that is currently happening is contemplating both scenarios.

Update July 2020: Díaz de Cossio has been working with a team of graphic designers to create a logo that will be included in all the promotion material for the event. Part of this process, she had to work with a laywer to register the name and logo with the Mexican Government to be able to used publicly.

She is also starting to coordinate who the instructors will be for the workshops, and the classes they will be teaching. Currently there are seven UC San Diego graduate students on board, and as faculty members join, Díaz de Cossio will start diving classes into different levels of experience and age.

Parallel to this, the website for the festival is being build. As the group of teachers is consolidated, their bios and photos will be inputed. Currently, the dates for the festival are tentative in January, but Díaz de Cossio is considering the possibility to push this to a later date if needed because of COVID-19.


Teresa Díaz de Cossio is a Mexican-American flutist, currently pursuing a DMA at the University of California San Diego. Parallel to her work at UC San Diego, she holds positions as teacher at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, and co-founder and director of the Festival de Música Nueva, Ensenada.

Sam MitchellSam Mitchell, Department of Theatre and Dance

His work looks to create connections between the campus of UC San Diego, which is located in Mat Kulaaxuuyon (La Jolla) on the unceded territory of the Kumeyaay people and Bdeóta Othúŋwe, (Minneapolis), Minnesota.

The demographics for Native students at UC San Diego have historically been abysmally low, with only .03 representation. Minneapolis, due to the Indian Relocation Act, has become home to a very tight-knit Native American community, with a majority of Native people from Minnesota’s large Ojibwe and Lakota tribes.

During this time of George Floyd protests, this work moves towards building a restorative relationship within Native/Indigenous/POC communities, while working towards healing racialized trauma within the body.

Project Updates

Update August 2020: In a series of very productive meetings, Mitchell has connected with the artistic director of New Native Theatre and the greater Native community in both Minneapolis and San Diego, including with the UC San Diego Interribal Resource Center.

Mitchell aslo met with the director of community engagement at the Guthrie Theatre of Minneapolis, discussing opportunites for the company to take part in the project.

Within the Department of Theatre and Dance, Mitchell participated in the departmental season planning meeting and presented a progress report. He is set to meet with assistant professor Rebecca Chaleff, who will be teaching a course on dance Fall Quarter 2020. They will discsss how to connect across the communities of Minneapolis and San Diego.

Update July 2020: Mitchell has met with the director of Rosy Simas Danse in Minneapolis, where they discussed many collaborations with local Native theater companies. He will connect next with the director of New Native Theatre, also in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota, to dicusss additional collaborations.


Sam Aros Mitchell is Native American from the Yaqui Nation, as well as a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the UC San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance. His research locates dance, theatre, film and art through the site of the Indigenous body, and asserts that the body is a place of knowledge as well as a place for the repatriation of Indigenous memory. He has worked with contemporary dance companies for more than 30 years, both performing and teaching, on a national and international level.

Becca RoseBecca Rose, Department of Literature

With the support of the Community Connections Fellowship, Becca will be creating an online literary journal in collaboration with faculty and peers in the MFA in Writing program.

This project aims to create a space of creative response to our current moment of transformation due to the global pandemic. Titled KALEIDOSCOPED, this space will act as just that — a collection of many refractions of experience — gathering the written and visual art of women, queer, trans, and BIPOC folks across Arts and Humanities disciplines, and across the boundaries of social distancing.

Project Updates

Update August 2020: As Rose worked against administrative delays, they have continued reaching out to fellow Creative Writing MFA students to gage interest and availability to assist with the project, especially in finalizing the mission statement and call for submissions. The search for a graphic designer continues, and the team will have a project meeting in the near future to discuss. The website design will continue, and the call for submissions is being released shortly.

Update July 2020: Rose has used the past month to discuss and determine the background logistics of the upcoming online literary arts magazine, Kaleidoscoped. The community collaborator, Professor Lily Hoang, and Rose have been discussing the structure of the editorial board for the magazine, as well as determining a more detailed timeline for the many phases of creating Kaleidoscoped.

Rose has also been communicating with other students in the MFA Program in Writing to determine interest in involvement, and be able to assign editorial positions. Rose intends to secure a domain for the website and hire a graphic designer to assist in creating it, and is preparing to finalize and send out the call for submissions.


Becca Rae Rose is a cross-genre writer from Sisters, Oregon. Her work explores the politics of gender, the body and disposability. She is an assistant poetry editor for Narrative Magazine and is currently pursuing her MFA in Writing at UC San Diego.

Paul RothPaul Roth, Department of Music

Radio Future Hour, in collaboration with San Diego community radio station KNSJ (89.1FM), spotlights the many exceptional and diverse youth-led movements for change in our region. Young community leaders are commissioned to create podcasts for radio play and online streaming archive that presents and explores their work, showing the potentials and visions they bring for tomorrow.

Project Updates

Update August 2020: With a number of exciting leads for podcasts developing from a bunch of different young activists around the city, Roth and team have met with communicative adult and youth groups as the project develops. They have also adjusted some of the logistics, including content time-requirements, to make the podcasts less daunting while still recognizing the pressure of putting one's voice out there in public.

Roth said they hope to begin recording soon, and have some promising new communication with different groups from the International Rescue Committee, a UC San Diego group and a very dedicated contact from the Media Arts Center in City Heights, with a few others.

Update July 2020: Roth has initiated outreach to a number of youth groups and community initiatives to promote the project, with initial interest from community-arts centers in San Ysidro, City Heights and greater San Diego, as well as youth involved in the International Rescue Committee. Roth and the team are continuing with outreach and will start working with some of the youth groups to create content.


Paul N. Roth is a saxophonist, improviser, arts organizer and scholar working across multiple genres and mediums. He currently pursues a Ph.D. in UC San Diego's Integrative Studies program, researching race, gender, imperialism, the environment and their intersections in later 20th century jazz and experimental musics.

Miguel ZazuetaMiguel Zazueta, Department of Music

The project "Voices for Playas de Tijuana" has the goal to create a dialog between the artistic group Radical: Vocal Ensemble and the Committee of Citizen Security of Playas de Tijuana in order to develop an artistic product that helps this community to reach their goal of making Playas de Tijuana a safe place to live.

Project Updates

Update August 2020: The goal is to have at least 150 to 200 poll answers and 50 interviews, and the team has met the poll-response goal and is working toward meeting their interview goals. The interviews are behind their schedule as the team had to focus on how to share the poll with the members of the Committee of Citizen Security of Playas de Tijuana.

At first, responses came in slowly because the persons in the committee didn’t know the team members and they had some concerns about privacy, but with the help of the committee’s board members they were able to receive the answers we wanted.

The few interviews gathered as of now are very revealing and helpful. Zazueta have met a lot of interesting people that can tell about the development of the sense of security in Playas de Tijuana. They also had the chance to interview a few police officers, and their feedback and point of view have complemented very well the responses from the poll and the interviews.

The members of the vocal ensemble, Radical, and Zazueta are the ones gathering the poll information and conducting the interviews, all done virtually. They are almost done with the first part of the project, which consisted in gathering information through the poll and the interviews from the committee´s members, both citizens and police officers.

Zazueta also met with the committee’s board members, and they asked to use the information that had been gathered for a reunion held between members of the police department, some of which are part of this committee. The charts, comments and results that were available were successfully displayed in that meeting, giving the opportunity to add to the development of this committee.

At the end of the month Zazueta expects to be finished with the interviews and the conclusions, in order to start working on the creative process.

Update July 2020: In collaboration with the artistic group “Radical: Vocal Ensemble,” Zazueta and team have created a survey and a guideline for interviews to be answered by the members of the Committee of Citizen Security Playas de Tijuana.

Zazueta had a meeting with the board of directors of the committee, and discussed the questions and topics of the survey and the interview, as well as the best way to communicate and ask for participation of the more than 1,600 members. The team made the public invitation, and have begun collecting answers and volunteers.

With this information, Zazueta is trying to get to know the thoughts, fears and ideals of the members of the committee about the topics surrounding the security of their community. This information will be used as the foundation for the creative process.


Miguel Zazueta is an interdisciplinary voice artist from Tijuana, México. He is currently pursuing his master's degree in music performance at UC San Diego. He is the founder and director of Radical: Vocal Ensemble, an artistic group focused in the interpretation of new music and interdisciplinary vocal art.