Meet Your TA's

June 04, 2020


abencomo.pngHello, my name is Anthony Bencomo, and I am a graduate student in the UC Santa Cruz Politics Department. My research examines the power of street gangs and their impact on local communities. A crucial piece of advice that I received is that although some people may try to turn the classroom into a competitive environment, the main reason we are in school is to learn. Do not feel embarrassed for being unaware of something as we are all working on learning and growing.

Another important lesson was to continually reflect on how the new knowledge gained in college could benefit my community. These reminders helped me progress successfully through school. During this challenging time, my main recommendation is for students not to be afraid to reach out to professors and their TAs. Students should feel free to communicate how they are negotiating this somewhat unpredictable time. While it is understandable to be hesitant to reach out, keeping in contact will help professors and TAs be aware of any challenges that students are facing. By communicating with us, you make us aware of some of the difficulties you are facing trying to maneuver learn through this new online format we are all learning.

Anthony Bencomo, M.A. / Ph.D. Student, Politics Department / Graduate Mentor, Cultivamos Excelencia / University of California, Santa Cruz



In my dissertation research as well as other projects, I focus on different forms of political action and their relationship to a verity of modes of power and domination in contemporary liberal democracies. Among others, I am interested in the relationship between law and activism and how individuals and groups can use, 


mobilize, or challenge the legal domain by extralegal means. Specifically, in my dissertation, I study the political implications of the practice of testimony in the struggle against sexual violence and for social change. My work is mostly theoretical, and it is informed by different schools of critical thought, such as feminist theory, postcolonial critique, and critical legal studies.

Many of the courses provide not only a foundational knowledge in law and society but also the tools for critical thinking. Therefore, the students receive exposure to important topics, approaches, and debates, and also learn how to evaluate these and challenge some of the assumptions that are often taken for granted. Also, coming from different fields, the faculty and the teaching assistants offer diverse points of view, which I believe enriches the students’ learning experience.   

When I was in my undergrad, I was encouraged to ask a lot of questions and never presume that they are not important or “smart enough.” This is one of the best ways to learn and expand your horizons, and I think it is especially important during this hectic time. Either in class or privately, ask questions, and engage with your teaching team. This way, you can contribute to the learning experience of others, stay on track, and allow your instructors to stay tuned to the class.  

Natali Levin Schwartz / PhD Student / Department of Politics / University of California, Santa Cruz