Building Bridges



Building Bridges is a one-year program dedicated to highlighting those creative, interdisciplinary ventures currently being undertaken by undergraduate students at Vanderbilt University. In collaboration with the Curb Center, the purpose of Bridges is to invite these innovative leaders to discuss the inspiration, development, results, and goals of their projects. In the end, we hope that Bridges will inspire others–especially younger Vanderbilt students–to continue “looking outside of the box” in their respective disciplines in order to make the world a healthier, safer, and happier place.

If you are a Vanderbilt undergraduate that has or is engaged in this type of creative project, and would like to tell their story through the Bridges program, please feel free to contact either Ben Gutierrez at or Kristyn Fratus at for more information.




Ben Gutierrez
Major: Consumer Behavior Studies
Graduation: 2014

screen-shot-2013-09-10-at-1-11-06-pmI am currently a senior at Vanderbilt engaging in my own interdisciplinary study– researching and analyzing how both human psychology and behavior can be used to create effective marketing and branding strategies.  Even before college, I was always fascinated by influential people, like Steve Jobs and John Cage, who drew unique connections between seemingly opposite academic areas.  However, it wasn’t until this summer (during a ridiculously long drive home from my summer internship) that I began thinking, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if more people knew about similar creative connections being made by my own Vandy undergraduate peers?”  Well, it turns out that my long-time partner in crime, Kristyn, was thinking the same exact thing.  Just a few weeks later, after much planning and support from the Curb Center at Vanderbilt, Building Bridges was born.
A little more about me:  I am a full blooded New Orleanian, a die hard Saints/FC Barcelona/Commodore fan, a lover of fresh seafood, and a travel enthusiast–with South America being my next intended destination.  In addition, there is a very special place in my heart for R&B and Jazz music, while I will also listen to just about everything else.


Kristyn Fratus
Major: Psychology (Cognitive Neuro. concentration)
& Manifestations of Culture (self-created major)
Graduation: 2014


I am also a senior here at Vanderbilt University completing two majors in the College of Arts & Science.  The first being Psychology with a research concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience, and the second major being Manifestations of Culture – a major I was able to create on my own.  This second major is essentially a look at linguistics, religious studies, and music – all from a cultural perspective.  When I was completing my Psychology/Neuroscience track, I was also taking some electives on the side.  I eventually realized that my World Music, Philosophy of Religion, and Introduction to Language and Culture classes complimented each other, and thus Manifestations of Culture was born.  I never really thought that I would pursue these areas academically, but I should have known I had a strong interest in the subjects when my parents would regularly ask me to delete all of the History Channel, Travel Channel, and NatGeo documentaries I would record that would clog our DVR.

Random Kristyn Facts:  I was born in Columbus, Mississippi but have also lived in Del Rio, Texas; Los Angeles; Fairfield, California; and most recently San Antonio, Texas because my dad was in the Air Force growing up.  I also just studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark which was my home from January to June of 2013.  In addition to recently becoming a Scandinavian, I love to sing (as does Ben, even though he didn’t mention it).  I also consider myself a foodie and am always exploring Nashville for a new place to eat.  And finally, I want to travel the world and see every aspect of every culture.  Ambitious? Maybe.


For more information, check out the Building Bridges Blog!


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