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NewsMay 7, 2019

Annual Honors Symposium features powerful student presentations

Ceremony in Alumni Hall celebrates 19 graduating seniors in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Honors Program

In a series of presentations that tackled topics ranging from food service workers’ rights to the experiences of immigrant children and the response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, four students in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) Honors Program showcased their knowledge and scholarship at the 4th annual CLAS Honors Symposium.

Panelists pose for a group photo: Lesley Ells, Mia DePaolo, Najifa Tanjeem and Kasriel Linzer.
Panelists pose for a group photo after the roundtable: (L to r) Lesley Ells, Mia DePaolo, Najifa Tanjeem and Kasriel Linzer.

The symposium, hosted by the CLAS Honors Program, was held on Monday, April 29, and was moderated by Dr. Michael Illuzzi, an associate professor of political science and director of the CLAS Honors Program.

Each semester, the honors students complete between 25 and 30 honors projects with faculty guidance. Last week’s symposium featured presentations by honors students Mia DePaolo, Lesley Ells, Kasriel Linzer and Najifa Tanjeem. During a Q&A session, they fielded questions from faculty, including an honest and moving exchange about the struggles each presenter faced in conducting their research.

The event also featured a festive ceremony to celebrate the 19 graduating seniors in the CLAS Honors Program. Each student invited a faculty member to present their honors cord in front of friends and family.

Graduating honors students pose for a group photo in Alumni Hall.
The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Honors Program recognized its 19 graduating seniors.

The graduating seniors are: Grace Ahn, Harper Berriman, Rosellen Boucher, Katelyn Cafarelli, Taylor Dement, Mia DePaolo, Emmaleigh Diecidue, Lesley Ells, Vita Franjul, Carina Fuller, Sabrina Garvin, Maya Grubner, Caitlin Hanley, Kyra Harbus, Aurora La Veglia, Alyssa Mazzucco, Abigail Sladen, Sara Stanton and Zoe Turner.

Summary of Honors Symposium Presentations

Lesley Ells, a senior global studies major, presented her research, “Post-Natural Disasters: The U.S. Virgin Islands and Its Political Economy.” Using an innovative online ethnography method, Ells studied the Virgin Island’s response to the natural disasters of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Her findings suggest that the government’s failure to break out of neoliberal and neocolonial frameworks impeded their ability to prepare for the next disaster.

Najifa Tanjeem, a senior environmental studies major with a minor in communication and media studies, premiered a shortened version of her documentary, “From the Dining Halls.” The documentary was a passionate and hard-hitting critique of the policies that create harsh working conditions for dining hall workers. Capturing the workers’ stories first-hand in interviews, Tanjeem explores the economics and politics of university sub-contracting. She uses interviews with faculty experts to provide context and analysis and intercuts these with events from dining hall workers organizing at nearby universities that face similar struggles.

Kasriel Linzer, a sophomore majoring in art therapy, presented the field work he conducted with two other students in his class. In his paper, "Does Size Matter: Investigating the Correlation Between Food Size and the Caching Behavior of the Eastern Grey Squirrel," Linzer extended previous research conducted in the Boston Public Garden to see if the size of food influenced squirrels caching behavior with the hypothesis being that larger food items would be saved for later and smaller ones eaten immediately. The results of their experiment were not conclusive but did support the hypothesis.

Mia DePaolo, a graduating senior with a psychology major and a double minor in expressive arts therapy and creative writing, presented her paper, “Psychological and Emotional Trauma Experienced by Latino Immigrant Children.” Exploring the extensive literature on trauma experienced by children immigrants, DePaolo defined the key terms in the scholarship and then explained her findings from interviews she conducted with those who came to the U.S. as immigrant children. While the findings suggest that younger children may be more resilient to this trauma than adolescents, the take home message was that far too many children are being inflicted with trauma by the experiences created by our immigration policies.