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NewsMay 16, 2022

Students tackle topics of global importance during Honors Symposium

Students, faculty and staff celebrate joyful return to in-person Honors Program ceremony for graduating seniors

A photo of faculty and students from the 2022 Honors Symposium
From left to right: Dr. Nafisa Tanjeem, Henry Katzman, Bella Bianco, Alison Frisella, Olive Segall, Anna Lofstrom, Hannah Rundquist, Maeve Rotolo and Dr. Michael Illuzzi. Photos by Ali Trepanier '22

From the role social media plays in sexualizing young women, to the responsibility of businesses to foster environmental and socioeconomic sustainability, seven students presented their honors research projects at the annual Honors Research Symposium. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a two-year hiatus for the in-person annual symposium in 2020 and 2021. Students, faculty and staff joyfully resumed the tradition on May 5 in Alumni Hall, where they celebrated the 5th annual College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) Honors Research Symposium.

Students pursued the research projects as part of their “honors contracts,” working closely with faculty members on topics they were passionate about to produce something that expanded beyond their coursework.  

“What really struck me was how students have brought their whole selves to their projects,” says CLAS Honors Program Director Dr. Michael Illuzzi. “Research isn’t knowledge disconnected from personal lived experiences, and these students all recognized their position in relation to the topics they were studying and used their particular situatedness to bring new perspectives to the larger scholarly conversations taking place.”

The May 5 symposium featured presentations by the following Honors Program students:

Anna Lofstrom, an Environmental Studies major and Communication and Media Studies minor, who presented, “What is the Importance of Environmental and Socio-economic Sustainability within the Business Sector?”

Alison Frisella, a Political Science and Math dual major, and Gender, Race and Sexuality Studies minor, who presented “Inferential Statistics Methods for Content Analysis.”

Hannah Rundquist, an Art Therapy major, who presented “Americanization of the Psyche.”

Olive Segall, an Elementary Education and Psychology dual major, who presented “How to Talk to Kids about their Feelings: Comparing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Methods.”

A photo of Henry Katzman presenting his Honors research project in Alumni Hall at the 2022 Honors Symposium
Henry Katzman presents his honors research project in Alumni Hall.

Henry Katzman, a Social Work and Sociology dual major, and Gender, Race and Sexuality Studies minor, who presented “Disablement in the NFL: A Critical Examination of Disability as a Contemporary Source of Segregation.”

Bella Bianco, a Counseling major and Social Work minor, who presented “Exploration or Exploitation: Social Media’s Role in the Sexualization of Teenage Girls.”

A photo of Maeve Rotolo n presenting her Honors research project in Alumni Hall at the 2022 Honors Symposium
Maeve Rotolo presents in Alumni Hall.

Maeve Rotolo, a Creative Writing major, who presented “Bartleby, the Scrivener, and Neurodivergent Representation.”

Celebrating the "unique resilience of Lesley students"

“All the students brought their full selves and passions into projects that could help challenge status quo interpretations that were obstacles to bringing about a more just world,” says Illuzzi.

The presentations were followed by a festive reception with refreshments 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.

Assistant Director of the Honors Program Dr. Nafisa Tanjeem notes the students’ flexibility and resilience amid the challenges of the pandemic.

A photo of the cake from the 2022 Anual Honors Symposium. The cake is covered in brown frosting and says "Congratulations CLAS Honors Students" in green frosting.
A festive cake celebrates the CLAS Honors Program graduates.

“Our graduating honors students demonstrated the unique resilience of Lesley students who are creative, persistent and unstoppable,” says Tanjeem. “These students had to move to online learning abruptly when the pandemic started. Many of them had to fight against adverse challenges the pandemic brought to their personal and professional lives. Yet they managed to fulfill all the Honors requirements and graduate with flying colors.

“We are grateful to our Lesley faculty who passionately worked with these students, nurtured their intellectual pursuits, and supported them to grow and thrive.”

The following graduating seniors satisfied the Honors Program requirements in the academic year 2021-22:

  • Jessica Alvarez
  • Harper Andrade
  • Lou Lou Baghdady
  • Shanick Chacon
  • Andrew Crowthers
  • Michelle Barahona Escoto
  • Bailey Haines
  • Gabby Lara
  • Meg McCarney
  • Jonah O’Neill
  • Nichole Ramirez
  • Genevieve Wharton
  • Stephanie Wright

See more inspiring stories from the Class of 2022.