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2017 Social Science Scholars

Serena Baldwin

Serena is a political science and sociology double major from Orlando, Florida. She currently works as an administrative assistant for public health promotion at FSU’s Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness. She also is a certified peer health educator at Healthy Noles, a member of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Student Leadership Council, and a facilitator for The Body Project, an initiative to help students resist sociocultural pressures to conform to an ideal of thinness. Serena has served as marketing chair for TEDxFSU. In April 2016 she qualified nationally in the Figure Division of Women’s Bodybuilding. Upon graduation, Serena plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health. In her free time she enjoys doing yoga, writing editorials for Fit University, cooking, and going to the farmers market.


Edward Bonahue

Edward is a junior from Gainesville, Florida, pursuing a double major in theatre and political science. His research interests include social capital, political polarization, and how young people conceptualize politics. He works as a university ambassador and is a member of the executive board for Power of We (an on-campus diversity initiative sponsored by FSU’s president). Edward serves as a youth mentor for PeaceJam Southeast. He has interned with the Alachua County Courthouse and with the Hippodrome State Theatre’s Education Department. Edward is a member of the College of Fine Arts’ Student Leadership Council and active in FSU’s theatrical community. In fall 2016, Edward studied abroad at the FSU London Study Center. In recent summers, he has worked with a number nonprofit groups in Gainesville and the We the People Theatre Arts initiative and YOPP Inc. arts organization. In summer 2017, he plans to analyze methods for promoting community development and civic engagement among America’s youth.


Sidney Carter

Sidney is a junior from Coral Springs, Florida. She is double majoring in finance and economics, and minoring in Chinese. She is the World Affairs Program’s assistant director of finance and treasurer of the College of Social Science and Public Policy’s Student Leadership Council. Sidney is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, the campus business fraternity. During her first year at FSU, Sidney was a legislative intern for New York Assemblyman Michael Blake. In that capacity, she designed and implemented programs to encourage start-up technology companies to locate to the Bronx. She also tutored borough residents on a range of job-related skills, including resume writing. After graduation, Sidney will be taking a gap year to work for a law firm before fully committing to law school.


Monique Costner

Monique is a double major in media and communication studies and international affairs. Her family immigrated to the U.S. from Romania, and she was born in South Florida. Monique currently serves as the president of InternatioNole, an organization that provides opportunities for international and U.S. students to connect. She works as a student assistant with the Center for Global Engagement’s Intercultural Programs and has attended the Florida International Leadership Conference for the past two years. Monique is a member of Global Peace Exchange (GPE), serving as the organization’s senior public relations and social media director in 2016. This summer, she will lead a team of GPE members to Cambodia in partnership with Children with Hope for Development, a local non-governmental organization. Monique has conducted research under the university’s South Asian Media and Culture Studies Program and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). Following graduation, she wants to work abroad for a few years and then pursue a masters in international communication.


Marsha Isma

Marsha is a Haitian-American student from Miami pursuing a dual degree in political science and finance. She began her college career as a participant in the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE), a summer bridge program for first generation college students. In her sophomore year, she participated in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, analyzing black women’s experiences in academia. Marsha spent the past summer as a judicial intern with Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit Court. As a participant in the Global Scholars Program, she worked in Ghana as a project coordinator for an NGO dedicated to ending rampant child trafficking and other labor abuses. She now is preparing an honors thesis focusing on the political underrepresentation of women and racial minorities in politics. Following graduation, Marsha aspires to complete a joint J.D./Ph.D. degree and to become an advocate for immigration reform and human rights.


Zachary Jones

Zachary is a political science and international affairs double major from Jacksonville, Florida. He serves as research assistant to the senior pastor of the City Church of Tallahassee and leads a weekly bible study in his home. He is director of events for the Honors Student Association, an Honors Peer Mentor, and an Honors Colloquium Leader. Zachary spent last summer living in Southeast Asia, teaching English and evangelizing the people. Subsequently, he worked on Senator Marco Rubio’s Senate re-election campaign. Currently, he is a press intern in Governor Scott’s office. He is also a member of a number of on-campus organizations, including Phi Eta Sigma and Mortar Board. As a Social Science Scholar, he plans to intern abroad with an organization dedicated to increasing religious liberty and ending discrimination against members of minority religious communities. Upon graduation, Zachary plans to pursue a short career in public service before attending seminary and becoming a pastor.


Joan Joseph

Joan is from Miami, Florida. She is pursuing a dual degree in political science and statistics, with minors in mathematics and computational science. She recently was awarded a Research-Intensive Bachelor’s Certificate in political science. Hers was an empirical study that compared corrupt political practices in different countries. Joan’s current research tests the hypothesis that the institutionalized racism introduced during Haiti’s colonial period is a persistent hindrance to that country’s democratic consolidation and development. As a Social Science Scholar, she will examine patterns of democratization by means of archival research in France and Haiti. She also will trace the progression of democratic consolidation in postcolonial Haiti by examining the political and administrative systems revealed in historical and oral narratives. Upon graduation, Joan plans to earn a combined B.S.-M.S. degree in mathematical statistics. Subsequently, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in political science with emphases in comparative politics and research methodology.


Ambar Gizzeh Martin

Ambar is a third-year anthropology and international affairs major from Caracas, Venezuela. At age nine, she and her family immigrated to the U.S. That experience fostered a deep interest in human rights. FSU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) gave Ambar the opportunity to study the Close the School of the Americas movement. She presented her research on that topic at Florida’s Undergraduate Research Conference in Tampa. Ambar is the co-director of Amnesty’s FSU chapter and southern representative of the National Youth Action Committee. Last summer she was selected for AIUSA’s Human Rights Leadership Institute and was an intern for their Security with Human Rights Program. Currently, Ambar is a legal research intern for a civil rights firm in Tallahassee that focuses on prison abuse and excessive force cases. She also is completing an honors thesis on U.S asylum policy and, upon graduation, she plans to attend law school so that she can do pro bono representation for asylum seekers facing immigration detention.


Matthew McSoley

Matthew is a third-year honors student and aspiring physician from Hollywood, Florida. He is majoring in economics with minors in chemistry and biology. He has served as a Career Center Ambassador and as vice president of the Honors Delegates. He mentors high school students from Leon Country with the College of Medicine’s USSTRIDE program. He also plays outfield on FSU’s club baseball team. During his sophomore year, Matthew became involved with the Florida Council for Community Mental Health as a UROP research assistant. In that capacity he studied access to public mental health care in Florida. He continues to work for the FCCMH as a data consultant. His experiences with the FCCMH have inspired an interest in healthcare data and policy. Matthew intends to pursue a Master in Public Health before attending medical school.


Brianna Milord

Brianna is from Royal Palm Beach, Florida. She is majoring in political science and in the Department of English’s editing, writing and media program. She is assistant news editor for FSView, the campus paper. In that role, she is committed to addressing the social, political, and economic issues facing marginalized minority groups. Brianna has served as a mentor and “Jamily leader” for Peace Jam Southeast, mentoring kids and students on global issues, including conflict resolution, racism, and hate. By doing so, she helps them better understand how to address inequalities and injustices within their own communities. Throughout her career at FSU, Brianna has participated in Noles Engaged in Politics, Leadershape, and the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Student Leadership Council as a member of its public relations committee. Brianna will be an intern at the New York Times next summer where she will focus on political journalism. In her free time, she enjoys talking about Anderson Cooper and eating frozen yogurt.


Sophie Rottenberg

Sophie is a biology and international affairs dual major from Tampa, Florida. Following graduation, she aspires to enter medical school and to become a trauma surgeon abroad. She has traveled widely throughout the U.S. and lived in the Netherlands throughout her freshman year of high school. Sophie is a Presidential Scholar and currently serves as that program’s vice chair. As a Social Science Scholar, she plans to return to Peru next summer as an intern to work on both domestic and international health policy issues with Kiya Survivors, a local NGO. Her research interests are centered on the differences between clinic- and hospital-centered models of care. Through the Center for Leadership and Social Change, she recently acquired her Advance IRS Tax Preparer Certification, which will allow her to file taxes for those who cannot afford such assistance. Sophie also collaborated with two fellow students to begin the Academic Recruitment Organization, an initiative to recruit high-achieving students to FSU from high schools across the nation.


Amanda Schell

Amanda is a Presidential Scholar pursuing a dual degree in statistics and international affairs with minors in urban and regional planning, economics, and math and a certificate in Statistical Analysis System programming. She is the principal investigator on two research projects in the College of Criminology. She also facilitates mentorships and coordinates financial literacy fairs at an underserved school in Gadsden County; designs surveys as the Student Government Association Deputy Secretary of Student Government Research: and coordinates academic outreach as a cofounder and the logistics chair for the Academic Recruitment Organization. Amanda has received a Moellership Service Grant and the Student Seminole Award. She was named a national Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Scholar and is currently a Florida Gubernatorial Fellow working at the Division of Emergency Management. In her spare time, Amanda loves competing in a variety of intramural sports, traveling, and reading in her hammock. One of her favorite possessions is an All Campus Champion shirt, which she won in women’s 3v3 soccer.


Leor Tal

Leor is a junior majoring in political science and history with a minor in communication. She currently serves as vice president of the College Democrats at FSU and political director of the Florida College Democrats, a multi-campus organization. As a freshman, Leor interned for the Gwen Graham campaign in the 2014 House District 2 race. Since then, she has worked on two other campaigns and for the Lake County Democratic Party. She has interned for the last two years at the League of Women Voters of Florida, one of her favorite advocacy organizations. Upon graduation, Leor hopes to focus her career on domestic policy reform by promoting women’s issues and environmental legislation in a more progressive direction.


Mackenzie Teek

Mackenzie is a third-year sociology major from Tallahassee. Her minors are Portuguese and public administration. Mackenzie’s experiences growing up in a multiracial family directly inform her research interests, which include race, identity, social psychology, and demography. Through independent research and her work with 2-1-1 Big Bend and other service organizations, she continually seeks ways to emphasize the connection between the empirical and the personal. A former Rotary Exchange student to Brazil, Mackenzie is now a Rotex with Rotary Youth Exchange Florida. She is fluent in Brazilian Portuguese and competent in Spanish and French. She also has acquired basic proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. This summer, she will return to Brazil to conduct a mixed-methods research project report on black racial identity salience within the Afro-Brazilian context. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Mackenzie aspires to pursue a master’s degree in sociology and a career in teaching and politics.


Lauren Watford

Lauren is pursuing a double major in international affairs and studio art, with a minor in Spanish. Last summer she worked in Iquitos, Peru, researching native folktales. Lauren is passionate about human rights and visual art and likes to investigate intersections between the two. Last fall, she helped organize a human rights art show at which local artists exhibited their works related to social justice. Lauren co-directs Amnesty International at Florida State and interns at the James V. Cook Law Office in Tallahassee where she conducts legal research for cases involving police misconduct and civil rights abuses in prisons. Lauren has undertaken an honors-in-the-major project investigating torture in both domestic correctional institutions and CIA detention centers overseas. She completed the FSU Law School’s summer program for undergraduates and, upon graduation, plans to attend law school with the goal of practicing civil rights law.


Julianne Weiss

Julianne Weiss is from Boca Raton, Florida. She is majoring in political science and minoring in Spanish and law in society. Julianne is involved on campus with the College of Social Sciences Student Leadership Council, FSU Relay for Life, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, and as a Mock Interview Mentor with the FSU Career Center. Julianne is also part of the FSU equestrian team, which competes regularly against other universities in the Southeast. This semester, Julianne is working as an administrative aide to Senator Kathleen Passidomo, who represents the Naples area. This is her second semester working in the Florida Legislature after serving as a legislative intern for Representative John Wood during the 2016 legislative session. After graduating from FSU, Julianne hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public policy. She plans to spend this summer exploring a variety of policy-related research topics. In her free time, Julianne enjoys visiting local coffee shops and playing with dogs on Landis Green.


William C. Whitmire

William is a junior majoring in political science and the English department’s editing, writing, and media program. He is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. William is interested in criminal justice, voting rights, civil rights, as well as history, politics, and cultural studies. He currently serves as president and leading spokesman of the Student Alumni Association (SAA), which works to enrich the lives of FSU students in multiple ways. In addition to his work with the SAA, William has been an orientation leader. He also has been involved with FSU Conduct Board, the Student Government Association, the Garnet & Gold Key Leadership Honorary Society, and the College Democrats.


Taylor Zuccarello

Taylor is a junior double majoring in international affairs and political science. She has participated in Model United Nations debate competitions for the past seven years. As vice chair of FSU’s World Affairs Program, she is responsible for creating and implementing the training curricula and weekly meetings that raise student awareness of current international issues. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her performance at university meetings and conferences that provide forums for students to share their beliefs as well as their solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. When she is not traveling across North America for competitions, Taylor enjoys researching international conflicts, human rights, and sustainable global development. She hopes to inspire others to become informed global citizens and to participate actively in the international community.