The annual Distinguished Alumni Reception recognizes the accomplishments of an exemplary alum from each of the academic programs in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Those honored are nominated by department chairs, faculty and staff, based on criteria that includes professional accomplishments, awards, philanthropy, service and contributions to the college and university community. In Fall 2017, the master of arts in interdisciplinary studies program honored Kim D. Stryker.
Kim is an independent folklorist living in Falls Church, Virginia, in a modern farmhouse with her husband, two big dogs, an old cat, and three chickens. Her master of arts in interdisciplinary studies, with its concentration in folklore, has launched her impressive track record of applied folklore research, advocacy, and community engagement. Her work was recently recognized with a major national award, the Archie Green Fellowship, awarded by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. The Fellowship is intended to support new research in the culture and traditions of American workers and to generate significant digital collections to be made available to researchers and the public. Kim is examining the work lives of people in the rapidly expanding Virginia wine industry. The project builds on the research that Kim conducted for her master’s thesis, a long-term ethnographic study of “pick-your-own” farmers in the Virginia Piedmont.
Kim is a dedicated participant in and advocate for public folklore initiatives that communicate folklore research and practice to the broader public. This summer, she co-organized the 50th Anniversary Celebration for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., and in September she hosted the North Carolina Traditions music stage at Greensboro’s National Folk Festival. Her longstanding involvement with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival—first as a volunteer and later as an Education and Family Activities Coordinator—led her to found the Save the Smithsonian Folklife Festival campaign in 2014. In the face of new National Park Service regulations that threatened to oust the Festival from its location on the National Mall, Kim used social media, alliances with like-minded groups, a successful online petition and letter-writing campaign, and volunteer efforts to build a campaign that garnered significant national and local media attention and promoted a compromise agreement between the National Park Service and the Festival leadership.
Kim has taught a section of Mason’s introductory undergraduate course, Folklore and Folklife, each semester since fall 2016. She fosters public engagement by organizing guest presentations and film screenings by visiting folklorists in her classes and opening them up to the wider community. Kim is a financial supporter of the Delaplane Strawberry Festival, and is a member of several professional and community organizations, including the American Folklore Society, the Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County, the Fauquier County Historical Society, and the Northern Virginia Beekeepers Association.