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Home » Discover Rackham » Student Spotlight: Katy Peplin

It’s exciting to explore uncharted territory. That’s what Katy – and her department – are doing with the young Ph.D. program in Screen Arts and Cultures. “I think we’ve had three Ph.D. candidates graduate so far.”

After receiving an undergraduate degree in Screen Arts and Cultures here at U-M, Katy made the big move to LA for a Master’s in film at UCLA. The strong faculty at Michigan drew her back to U-M to pursue her doctorate in the program they had recently begun.

“Going straight though had its challenges.” She discovered that graduate education at this level was a big jump. “I had to find the professionalism in my graduate work, discovering a work/life balance and manage the level of work needed to be successful. I had to re-imagine myself as a professional.” Her first year here was challenging and she needed to re-adjust and create that balance.

She also found U-M was a different experience now. When she returned to Michigan, she found she was missing the larger scale U-M identity as a graduate student. “Michigan is a completely different place as a grad student.”

She reflects that Rackham has been very helpful – she’s met scores of people that have similar interests but are from such different programs that they never would have met outside of the scope of their academics. “The people I’ve met and know through Rackham programs are people I’ve seen in other buildings and programs around campus. I know that grad students are flowing through campus. In the three years I’ve been here, I’ve seen Rackham step out of the building and make a mark on the University overall.” She credits Rackham programs with having a profound influence on how she sees herself, what she enjoys and is passionate about, and giving her a way to make those a part not only of her graduate studies but her career. Katy adds, “I have a passion for teaching and have found CRLT (the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching) to be an awesome resource for teachers.”

Katy is currently working on a dissertation prospectus on animals in film, specifically the regulation of animals on set and the uses of animals in early film theory. Her research interests include documentary films and ethics, digital media and media literacy and pedagogy.