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2013 Social Science Scholars

Click here to view a pdf of the 2013 recipients.


Rafael Batista

Rafael is a first generation American citizen born to Brazilian parents. Originally from San Diego, CA, he moved to Pembroke Pines, FL at a young age. After attending Pembroke Pines Charter High School for four years, Rafael began his studies at FSU in the Summer of 2010. He is a dual-major in Psychology and International Affairs with a minor in Economics. Freshman year Rafael was elected to the Student Senate and joined Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. He also has participated in the LeaderShape Program, Alternative Breaks and the Inter-fraternity Council Executive Board. Rafael currently is working with Dr. Roy Baumeister, Professor of Psychology, on an interdisciplinary research project on subjective well-being. He has participated in the Social Justice Living Learning Community and the Greek Life Emerging Leaders course.


Caroline Burkholder

Caroline Burkholder is an honors student working on a dual degree in Sociology and Interdisciplinary Humanities. She is deeply committed to social justice issues, marked by her involvement with campus organizations such as the Student Leadership Seminar, PeaceJam, Without Words, and Sociologists for Women in Society. She also has served as a volunteer at The Caring Tree of Big Bend Hospice, assisting in creative grief support for children and teens and as a news correspondent for WVFS, FSU’s student radio station. Caroline has been an active member of the FSU artistic community, having won the Kudzu Review’s 2011 Fall Contest for Fiction and through her participation in Williams Reading Night and the Undergraduate Art History Association. She worked as a student intern for the State University System Board of Governors for nearly two years. This experience motivated Caroline to become an advocate for educational reform, specifically through a national student-led non-profit organization, Students for Education Reform, which addresses the educational opportunity gap in the United States. She is continuing her work with Students for Education Reform as its Florida Captain managing all of the SFER chapters throughout the state.


Diamond Bynum

Diamond is from Washington, D.C. She is currently a dual major in Political Science and Economics, and is completing a certificate in Research Intensive Political Science. Her other academic interests include: equality of minorities, public policy, education, human rights, international relations and leadership. Diamond’s commitment to youth and education led to her involvement with the DC Metropolitan Club where she organized the Big Sister, Little Sister Mentoring Program. At FSU she is a member of two honors societies: the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Phi Eta Sigma. Upon graduation, Diamond plans on attending graduate school in Washington, DC to complete a masters in applied economics and then go to law school. She aspires to focus on both law and business.


Tara Catanach

Tara is from Miami, Florida. She is a sophomore transfer student majoring in International Affairs. Tara is a member of the World Affairs Program. She also is helping to found a UNICEF support program on campus, serving this semester as the initiative’s Education Chair. In high school Tara was a Nike Rose Classic Scholar Athlete, and a dedicated volunteer at sports camps. She is also a PeaceJam youth mentor and is involved in special Olympics of Leon County where she will serve on the Executive Board as Athlete Retention Chair next fall. She is passionate about advancing community development and conflict resolution through sports. Upon graduation she hopes to pursue a career with UNICEF, focusing on the role of sports in development.


Rosalia "Rosie" Contreras

Rosie Contreras is an International Affairs and Women’s Studies dual major from Melbourne, FL. She is a first-generation student, having immigrated to the US from Cuba at the age of 2. Rosie has served as the Director of the Hispanic/Latino Student Union, an agency of the Student Government Association. Her previous involvement also includes Student Senate, the Office of Governmental Affairs, and the World Affairs Program. Rosie has received multiple awards at FSU, including the 64th Student Senate Ethics Award and the Milton S. Carothers Ethical Courage Award. A Seminole Torchbearer and a member of Garnet and Gold Key, Rosie was recently elected Student Body President and hopes to continue serving students in this new role.


Paige Dabney

Paige is a dual International Affairs and Geography major from Baker, FL, and is completing two certificate programs in Leadership Studies and Global Pathways. She began her FSU career in The Center for Leadership’s Service Leadership Seminar (SLS), which stimulated her interest in service and diversity. She has participated in numerous service programs, including: Conversation Partners, English education classes for migrant workers, Florida International Leadership Conference, Leon County Youth Mentoring, and International Education Week. Recently, she was initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and was selected to be a Freshman Interest Group Instructor for Fall 2013. She is deeply committed to InternatioNole and to her “second family,” the Marching Chiefs. In July 2012, Paige received a grant from the U.S. Department of State and spent two weeks in the Republic of Georgia, leading a seminar on environmentalism and leadership for high school-aged students. She plans to continue this program in the future.


Mara Denny

Mara Denny is an International Affairs and Russian double major from New Port Richey, Florida. During the 2012-2013 school year, she was a member of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, through which she served as a research assistant to Dr. Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm on a study of transitional justice in the Arab world. Her academic interests include Russian language and culture, international issues, and the environment. She is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and enjoys community service, outdoor activities, art and music. Last summer she studied abroad in Moscow and plans to implement her Social Science Scholars project on wildlife rehabilitation in South Africa this summer.


Michael Fitzgerald

Michael is an International Affairs major from Weeki Wachee, FL. He entered FSU last fall, having completed his AA degree at Pasco-Hernando Community College. While attending PHCC, he was President of the Student Government Association. He also was named Outstanding Student Leader at PHCC, state champion in public speaking for Phi Beta Lambda, a Coca Cola Foundation Scholar, and was named to the All-Florida Academic Team. At Florida State, Michael has served as an intern for Senator Bill Nelson, is a member of the Chinese and Japanese Student Associations, and is a research assistant in the Department of Modern Languages. Following graduation, he plans to pursue a doctoral degree in higher education administration.


Hillary Harlan

Hillary is triple major in International Affairs and Economics and Russian from Naples, FL. She serves as the Public Relations Officer of the FSU’s World Affairs Program and as Secretary General of the FSU Regional Training Conference, which hosts over 100 delegates from schools across the state. She also is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and director of the First Annual Florida Diplomatic and International Security Conference, which will take place in October 2013 and a member of the College of Social Sciences Leadership Council. When she entered college Hillary wanted to study architecture. However, after much thought, she discovered her true passion to be national security and international development. She has since worked as a student intern for former State Senator JD Alexander and as a Government Affairs Assistant for Fowler, White, & Boggs, P.A. This summer she hopes to work in a developing country to enhance her global perspective and continue work on her honors thesis. Following graduation, Hillary hopes to continue her studies in International Security.


Brooke Holmes

Brooke is from Parkland, FL. She is double majoring in Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, concentrating in Political Science. She also is pursuing a minor in Child Development. In the future, Brooke plans to work in the fields of child development and early education. She is very passionate about travel and community service. In the spring of 2012 she led a group of Alternative Breaks volunteers to South Carolina to work in a group home for sexually abused women. This year she serves as the student coordinator for that organization. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA at FSU and is a member of two honor societies. In addition, she is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta, the international sociology society.


Stephen Craig Mayers

Craig is majoring in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with a minor in Business. He is from Sarasota, FL. His career at Florida State University has been marked by a dedication to social justice causes. As fundraising chairman for Noles for Haiti, he secured over $5,000 in donations for that organization. He currently is a special events intern with the United Way of the Big Bend. He also has organized three philanthropies for Sigma Pi Fraternity at Florida State University. He is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honors Fraternity, Phi Kappa Phi Honors Fraternity, the Golden Key Honors Society, and the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Fraternity. After graduation Craig plans to pursue a Masters' Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in non-profit management and he aspires to become an executive director of a non-profit agency in the future.


Ian Michaels

Ian is an International Affairs major from Pensacola, FL. He is completing complementary work towards certificates in both Leadership and Global Pathways. In addition to his academic studies, Ian regularly finds himself at the FSU Reservation working as supervisor of the Climbing Wall and facilitating group development on the Low-Ropes Challenge Course. Looking towards the future, Ian hopes to take his interest in group development and education abroad through service and research work in developing countries. As a vehicle for these long-term aspirations he has begun volunteering with the Center for Intensive English Studies, working with the student group Global Peace Exchange, and learning the research process with Dr. Peter Easton of the College of Education.


Alex Montalvo

Alex is an honors student, double majoring in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. He also is pursuing a Leadership Studies Certificate. He is from Miami, FL. In his freshman year he participated in the Service Leadership Seminar (SLS) sponsored by the Center for Leadership and Social Change. That experienced fueled his passion to create “positive, sustainable change” in the world. He later served as a facilitator for the SLS. He has since become involved with the Student Government Association where he has served as a Student Senator in the 64th and 65th Student Senate and, most recently, as treasurer of the Office of Servant Leadership. To further develop his leadership skills Alex has been involved with the Freshman Leadership Institute (FLI), PeaceJam, Noles Engaged in Politics (NEP) and the LeaderShape Institute. He is a part of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Golden Key International Society, and Phi Eta Sigma. Alex’s greatest aspiration is to close the “achievement gap” among inner city youth. He hopes to do so through public policy and awareness. This summer he will be in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, to volunteer at a sports camp for at risk youth. Eventually, he plans to earn a Master’s in Public Administration and then to study international law.


Maria Naranjo

Maria was born in Colombia and immigrated with her family to this country at the age of 10. She has been living in Clearwater, FL, ever since. She is currently completing a dual major in International Affairs and Political Science with a concentration in French and a minor in Social Work. She also is earning a Global Pathways Certificate with a concentration in human rights. Maria is passionate about youth leadership development, human rights, and immigration issues. Since her first year at FSU she has been involved in all aspects of the PeaceJam program, which seeks to empower youth to change their communities by connecting them to Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. She was the current President of Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (AIRR) and a site leader for the Alternative Breaks Program this past school year. She was very involved with the Colombian Student Association during her first two years at FSU. Maria describes herself as an explorer, a bridge and a singer (although her family and friends may disagree with the last).


Alexandra Olsen

Alexandra is a French, International Affairs, and Sociology major from Cape Coral, FL. She is heavily involved in research at the university, and has received a Bess H. Ward Honors Thesis Award and Mentored Research and Creative Endeavors Award. Alexandra is also teaching the Undergraduate Research Opportunity course in the Social Sciences for the 2013-2014 school year. Currently, she is working on an Honors Thesis in Sociology focusing on Hispanic Immigration. Through the Social Science Scholars program, she will finish this research project this summer in Washington D.C. After this, she plans on continuing research for the rest of her time at Florida State as a Research Assistant to Dr. Rohlinger and starting another project of her own. In addition to her academic commitments, she has been a PeaceJam mentor, serves on the College of Social Sciences Leadership Council, and is a member of the Golden Key Honors Society. Alexandra is very passionate about immigrant and migrant rights issues. She is serving as the Event Planner for Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (AIRR) and volunteering with the Migrant Education Program at the Panhandle Area Education Consortium. She is excited to continue this involvement in the fall, when she will start an internship with the Immigration Law Department of Catholic Charities. In the future, Alexandra plans to get a dual J.D./Ph.D in Sociology and continue researching.


Christina Omran

Christina is proud to be from Jacksonville, FL. She is majoring in Environmental Studies with a certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. As a regular on the Florida State Dean’s List, she holds a 3.8 GPA and is a member of the national academic honor society Phi Kappa Phi. Following graduation she plans to complete a Master’s degree in Natural Resource Urban and Regional Planning and a PhD in Environmental Management. For three years she has been a recipient of the St. Augustine Garden Club Scholarship based on her work for the environment and concern for landscaping practices. She worked with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as an intern focusing on Florida black bear conservation. Currently she is working under Dr. Ian MacDonald in the Oceanography Department on spreading awareness about FSU’s involvement with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) and oil spill researc on the Gulf Coast. Christina has over 180 community service hours on her FSU transcript and has volunteered for over 200 hours in Jacksonville. Her leisurely pursuits include: cooking environmentally sustainable meals for her friends and family, running, and gardening.


Tatiana Pino

Tatiana is from Miami, FL. She is majoring in International Affairs with a concentration in Political Science. She also is earning a Certificate in Markets and Institutions from FSU’s Economics Department. Tatiana served as the Executive Vice-President of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Academic Chair of the Oscar Arias Sanchez Hispanic Honor Society, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and the Honors Legal Scholars Program. Over the course of her undergraduate career, she has contributed over 200 hours of community service to the Student Disability Resource Center at Florida State. During the summer of 2012, while interning in the office of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio in Washington, D.C., Tatiana discovered her passion for analyzing politics through an economic lens. Through the Social Science Scholars Program, she is interning at the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center as a Koch Fellow through the Institute for Humane Studies sponsored by George Mason University. Tatiana hopes to attend law school upon graduation, and in the long-term engage in legal private practice or Congressional lobbying.


Kathryn Amelia Watts

Amelia is an International Affairs major with a minor in Women Studies from St. Petersburg, FL. Amelia was an FSU nominee for the national Harry S. Truman Scholarship and received admission to the Carnegie Mellon Junior Summer Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs. She will be a national PPIA Fellow upon successful completion of the summer program. She plans to pursue graduate degrees Public Administration and Public Policy following graduation from FSU. Her time at FSU has been defined by her dedication to social justice and gender equality. Amelia is the president of a student organization, Empowering Women Globally, and has been involved in multiple progressive student groups. Currently, she is a volunteer intern at Refuge House, the only domestic and sexual violence crisis center serving survivors in the Tallahassee area. Amelia completed the International Humanitarian Law Seminar and was awarded a certificate by the American Red Cross. Last semester she was selected to lead a Freshman Interest Group during the fall semester of 2013. She is also a member of the Honors Student Association and plans to complete an undergraduate honors thesis in International Affairs in the Fall.