A Hedley Donovan Scholarship sent Shayna Allen (BA '19, history) to Ukraine to gather testimonies of the participants of a Peace Summit in Kiev. "With the annexation of Crimea, the Russian-Ukrainian War on the east, and the new leadership in Ukraine, I decided it was an important time to shed light on the work of Ukrainian activists who are pursuing the democratic development of Ukraine."
Where are you from? What brought you to the U and what did you study here?
I am from Lino Lakes, Minnesota. I began studying at the U in high school through Post-Secondary Enrollment Opportunities (PSEO) and decided to stay there because of my positive experience.
I majored in history with a minor in cinema and media culture. I knew going into my freshman year I wanted to study history. I declared a minor in cinema and media culture studies after taking a Super 8 filmmaking class.
What are you working on now, and why does it matter?
I am currently dancing in a theater piece called Holding On, directed by Joey Clark. I was involved in the project’s fruition, interviewing World War II veterans, gathering their stories, and developing these narratives into a theater piece. I am excited to perform Holding On as it blends history and performance art in a way that transcends generations.
What drives you? What difference do you hope to make in your community—and in the world?
I am driven by a desire to shed light on the experiences of people who have been marginalized. I seek to promote understanding, kindness, and compassion.
How has your liberal arts education uniquely prepared you for your career?
The College of Liberal Arts encourages creative thinkers and interdisciplinary work. Within this College, I was able to complete my senior thesis in the history department as a short documentary film. I was supported through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities (UROP) grant as well as the history department’s Hedley Donovan Scholarship to travel to Ukraine and conduct interviews of Ukrainian activists.
How has CLA helped prepare you for your next steps?
What I found to be most helpful about the College of Liberal Arts was working with my college advisors. They helped me define and shape my dreams into realistic projects and directed studies that the University would recognize. I was able to gain valuable experience through transcribing oral histories, conducting interviews, and editing a short documentary film, which allowed me to be accepted to Duke University’s Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Studies. Although I declined my acceptance, this was a great achievement for me.
You received support from donors during your time at the U. What does that support mean to you now?
The University of Minnesota offers a number of scholarships and research opportunities. Throughout my studies, I was working two to three jobs to support myself. I didn’t earn any scholarships as an incoming freshman, but one of my professors encouraged me to apply for the Donovan Family Research Grant. Through the confidence instilled in me from my professors and advisors, I was able to apply for and receive multiple scholarships, which greatly alleviated my financial burden. Without the generous donations from the Hedley Donovan family, the Chorn family, The Woman’s Club, and the Barbara Newsome Fund, I would not have been able to fund research projects abroad, nor would I have been able to participate in an unpaid internship. The process of applying to so many scholarships is a very important skill. Most recently, I was selected as the recipient of the German DAAD fellowship, which will support my master’s education at Freie Universitat.