Dominic Cruz Bustillos, BA’21: A&S Founder’s Medalist
Dominic Cruz Bustillos, from San Rafael, California, is the Class of 2021 Founder’s Medalist for the College of Arts and Science. He graduated with a bachelor of arts in history and Russian language. He attributes his success to the work ethic instilled by his family. His grandmother, who emigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico, had a particularly strong impact on his appreciation for his opportunities in the United States. Bustillos earned triple honors: in the College of Arts and Science, in history and in Russian. After a year in St. Petersburg, Russia, he wrote two honors theses analyzing the relationship between coal miners, collective action and authoritarianism in Ukraine’s Donbas region. He is the first student at Vanderbilt to write and defend a thesis in Russian. He was an original member of Vanderbilt’s Research on Conflict and Collective Action Lab and studied nuclear nonproliferation. He also was a research assistant at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Bustillos now is a full-time research assistant for retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman at the Lawfare Institute. His goal is to work in government or academia to contribute to research on conflict and collective action in Russia and Ukraine.