College of Arts & Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences
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Spotlight: Meet Our Student Changemakers

Meet more CAS Alumni and Students.

Malik Burnett


Malik BurnettMA, Arts Management ’21

I’ve had the opportunity to merge my love of dance with applied knowledge in the arts management field.

As assistant manager of dance programming at the Kennedy Center, Malik Burnett ties his experience as a dancer to building community-centered dance programs. Dance came naturally to Burnett as a student growing up in Prince George’s County in Maryland. After graduating from Suitland High School and majoring in dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, he returned to the area to figure out his next steps. “I did some soul searching and realized that I didn’t want to be a full-time performing artist.” While working as a facility manager at a local community center, Burnett realized the potential for a career. “I was managing everything from hiring instructors and conducting grassroots marketing to nearby schools to creating a curriculum—that started my journey in arts administration.”  

To take the next step in his career, Burnett applied to the Arts Management program at AU. “When applying to programs, it stood out to me that I could participate in an internship or fellowship with arts organizations in the area as a student at AU.” Burnett held fellowships in AU’s Dance Program and in the Education Department at the Kennedy Center. The connections he made during the fellowship helped him transition to a full-time position after graduating from AU. “Whether it was fundraising, governance, or marketing classes, there was so much that AU instilled in me in those two years.” 

Burnett recently had the opportunity to swap his dress shoes for dance shoes. He organizes the Kennedy Center’s Local Dance Commissioning Project, which provides monetary support for DMV-based artists or companies to premiere a new production of their work at the Kennedy Center. Recent awardee Tariq O’Meally presented Good Grief: Songs of the Moon and The Unbroken Circle at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater in May. In addition to working on programming, Burnett also appeared on stage as a dancer. “It was a great full circle moment—combining my experience as an administrator and a performer.” 

Photo: Kyle Andercyk

Alexis Threatt


Alexis ThreattMS, Data Science

"At AU, I met great, enthusiastic, and encouraging professors who genuinely cared about my well-being—and students who became some of my closest friends. AU fosters an environment in which I felt comfortable being myself. It challenged me and prepared me for the world."

Alexis Threatt grew up in an urban area surrounded by a series of parks filled with trees. It was her first inspiration for the work she now does on the Global Climate Change Team at the US Forest Service International Programs. 

Alexis first got her foot in the door at the Forest Service while earning her MS in data science at AU. For her capstone, she landed a position as a program manager on the US Forest Service’s Africa and Middle East Team, managing its Mozambique and Angola Programs. “Both countries endure massive fires across the country, and I decided to pursue a comparison analysis of wildfires in two high-priority conserva tion areas called the Niassa Special Reserve in Mozambique and Mavinga National Park in Angola,” she explains.  

Alexis is thrilled with her current job. And with her environmental science background and MS in data science, she has lots of choices for her future. She is looking ahead at the possibility of earning a PhD, continuing with her forestry and climate change work, and implementing her data science degree—and perhaps even pursuing a career as a foreign service officer or working at the United Nations in an environmental position. 

Why the College of Arts & Sciences?

Students and alumni discuss distinctive features of the College, why they chose their particular degrees, and program opportunities they pursued.