Alumni Spotlight: Andrew Shaffer, MAIS ’12

“…the study habits I learned from MAIS faculty, the research skills I learned from seminars, the knowledge I gained from course readings, and the friendships I made with other students and staff have helped me at every step of the way.”

Shortly after graduating from MAIS, I started working for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), a San Francisco based nonprofit that provides legal training and advocacy for immigrant rights. My position there required extensive writing and editing, as well as managing fundraising events. At the ILRC I quickly realized how lucky I was to have received such excellent training in writing and research from MAIS faculty. Their feedback helped to hone my writing skills, and my boss later told me that my ability to write succinctly and persuasively helped me land the job. Additionally, keeping on top of the research that led up to my final thesis helped prepare me for managing events at the ILRC, developing my competence in handling competing priorities and rigid deadlines.

Now, as a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin, I am so grateful for the classes I took at USF and the continued mentorship of MAIS faculty. Dr. Kaiser was incredibly helpful in selecting and completing a final thesis project, even after my original plan imploded a few weeks into fieldwork. The research I did for my MAIS thesis on LGBTQ rights in Argentina helped lay a lot of the groundwork for my dissertation, which looks at changes in LGBTQ spaces in San Francisco. Even more importantly, the study habits I learned from MAIS faculty, the research skills I learned from seminars, the knowledge I gained from course readings, and the friendships I made with other students and staff have helped me at every step of the way. I couldn’t have known where I would end up while I was still in MAIS, but the experiences I had at USF have served me well in a wide variety of environments.

MAIS Graduation (with Susana Kaiser and Cory Davis)

It has been five years since I sent off my application for admission to USF, and I can’t believe how much my life has changed since then. With the support of MAIS faculty and staff, I have gone further in my education than anyone in my family. My time at USF helped me imagine a future in academia, and gave me the tools to achieve it. MAIS has become my family, and San Francisco has become my home, even when I’m thousands of miles away. I will always be grateful for the immense opportunities I was given at USF, and I cannot wait to see what is next for MAIS.

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Andrew Shaffer is a Teaching Assistant and Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying gender and sexuality history in the modern United States. His research focuses on the usage of public and private spaces by LGBTQ communities, and the effects of their closure on political activism, community building, identity formation, and sexual opportunities. He asks how the ongoing closure of public queer spaces in the San Francisco Bay Area fits into a history of booms and bursts throughout the 20th and into the 21st centuries. 
Andrew also works as the LGBTQ Archivist for UW Madison and the Editorial/Social Media Assistant for the Oral History Review.
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