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2015 Social Science Scholars

Click here to view a pdf of the 2015 recipients.

Cassandra Barragan

Cassie is an honors student from Winter Springs, Florida. She is a dual major in international affairs (with a concentration in political science) and history with a minor in religion. She is also pursuing a Global Pathways Certificate with a concentration in human rights and a Garnet and Gold Medallion. Cassie plans to complete an honors thesis related to women’s rights in the Levant. She has been involved with Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights since her freshman year and has served as the organization’s president for the past two years. She is also a youth mentor and coach with PeaceJam Southeast. Cassie is currently studying Arabic and history, focusing on the Middle East and North Africa (!إن شاء الله). She is passionate about history as a means for understanding current human rights issues and conflicts. In her free time Cassie enjoys baking, running, and taking far too many pictures of her puppy.


Matthew Breen

Matthew is a second-year honors student from Orlando, Florida. He is majoring in economics and finance. He aspires to a career, which combines his interests in business and advocacy. He has interned and clerked at a law firm in Tallahassee, competed on the mock trial team, and participated in the Honors Legal Scholars program. Matthew’s passion for business led him to an internship at Lockheed Martin during the summer of 2014. There he developed an interest in the intricate relationship between corporations and their regulatory environment. He hopes to explore this subject in greater depth through his Social Science Scholars project. Matthew’s perspective has also been shaped by his membership on the Student Foundation Board of Trustees and in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and by his accomplishments as an Eagle Scout.


Cassidy Curls

Cassidy is a second-year student from Tampa, Florida. She is pursuing a dual degree in international affairs and the Department of English’s editing, writing and media program, with a minor in French. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the FSU Honors Program. Cassidy works as both an editor and writer for a number of online publications, and wishes to pursue a career in journalism. As a freshman, she participated in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) as an assistant to Professor William Moore in the Political Science Department. In the spring of 2014, she was elected coordinator of the Citizen Media Evidence Project, a program designed to teach both undergraduate and graduate students how to validate user-generated and citizen media for Amnesty International. With strong interests in international political journalism and web-based media, she will undertake a research project next summer in an international setting yet to be determined. In her senior year, Cassidy plans to complete an honors thesis based on her research.


Daniela Donoso Garcia

Daniela was born in Quito, Ecuador. Her family immigrated to Miami when she was a baby. She is a double major in International affairs and social science with a concentration in economics and a minor in French. Daniela is passionate about social justice and immigration issues. She has been community outreach chair for Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (AIRR) since her freshman year. She currently serves as service chair of the International Justice Mission’s (IJM) chapter on campus. Daniela also works as a peer Mentor for 14 Chinese exchange students through the Center for Global Engagement as well as a resident assistant for freshmen in the Southgate Campus Centre. Since the fall of her junior year, she has had the privilege of working at The Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, assisting its staff on pro bono immigration cases. Daniela plans this summer to research anti-human trafficking programs in developing countries. In the future she hopes to start her own social enterprise dedicated to the education of vulnerable children and their families. In her spare time, Daniela enjoys spending time at her campus ministry, playing soccer and talking about llamas.


Sean Doran

Sean is a sociology and political science double major from Deltona, Florida. He has completed the Research Intensive Bachelor’s Certificate in political science with a focus on post-secondary education. He has worked with the FSU chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Following an internship with the Legislative Affairs office of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Sean began working for the organization’s Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness on its Farm to School Program. He assisted schools in the procurement of locally grown foods for their meal programs. The program also familiarized students with the growing process by sponsoring school gardens. Such initiatives increased Sean’s interest in food policy and the ways individuals adopt their dietary habits.


Rebecca Entenberg

Rebecca is a second year student from Hollywood, FL majoring in Political Science, History, and Communication Disorders. She has been a member of Noles Engaged in Politics, an intern for Congresswoman Gwen Graham, and has served on the Executive Board of the Women in Pre-Law Society. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Office of Governmental Affairs and works as the Office Administrator for Congregation Shomrei Torah. In her free time, Rebecca loves to cook, read, and play guitar.


Rebecca Justilien

As a third-year honors student majoring in economics and international affairs, Rebecca has found multiple ways to engage in campus and community service. Initially, she focused her attention on the human rights issues as a student in the Social Justice Living Learning Community. Later, she served as a mentor for first-year students in the program. As a participant in FSU’s LeaderShape program, Rebecca committed herself to economic and social justice by working on sustainable, community-led development projects and initiatives. She also began working with the Tallahassee Food Network through iGrow Youth Farm—a youth empowerment and urban agriculture program in Frenchtown Tallahassee, where she now serves as community engagement intern. Rebecca also has worked with PeaceJam Southeast and with Sisters2Service FSU. Her academic activities include her membership in the Garnet and Gold Scholar Society, her enrollment in the Leadership Studies Certificate Program, and her role as a 2015 Global Scholar.


Lauren Medina

Lauren is a third-year student from Tampa, Florida, working on her master’s in demography combined with an undergraduate dual major in international affairs and sociology. Her research interests include women’s health, fertility, and sexual violence. Throughout the past two and a half years, Lauren has been devoted to helping others through her job as a resident assistant on campus, as an intern for Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education, and as a mentor through the Women’s Student Union. Lauren currently works for University Housing as a receptionist and is a proud member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. She hopes to complete and present an honors thesis in which she will create a method for quantifying the prevalence of sexual violence in the United States. Upon graduation, Lauren plans to complete her master’s in demography and pursue a career in demographic and/or data analysis.


Alexander Morato

Alexander is an honors student from the Florida Keys. He is majoring in political science with a minor in English literature. He arrived at FSU having been involved with PeaceJam Southeast as a coach and mentor. He currently serves as one of PeaceJam’s mentor leaders on campus. His other university commitments include membership on the Office of Governmental Affairs’ Board of Directors, the Honors Legal Scholars Program, and the executive board of the Golden Key Honor Society. He spent a summer interning at the Law Offices of Thomas D. Wright. Through this experience he developed an interest in environmental and humanitarian law. Alexander also loves to travel. He participated in a study abroad trip to Antarctica where he conducted research on sustainable tourism in that region. As a Social Science Scholar, Alexander hopes to obtain an internship with the International Criminal Court or an international NGO.


Shannon Morris

Shannon is from Dade City, Florida, and a double major in international affairs and political science. She is a volunteer with Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and currently serves as the organization’s secretary. Shannon also volunteers with PAEC, tutoring migrant adults in English. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and the Phi Eta Sigma honor societies. She serves on multiple committees and is the ritual officer of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Last summer, Shannon spent three months at Seeds of Hope, a Peruvian NGO, teaching impoverished children, and improving her Spanish in the in the process. Her honors thesis concerns the educational needs of Peru’s indigenous communities. After graduation Shannon hopes to pursue a dual master’s in international policy and law with the goal of eventually working internationally in the nonprofit sector.


Rima Nathan

Rima is majoring in international affairs and political science with a minor in French. Her research has focused on variations in sexual violence within different civil conflicts around the world. In the future she plans to do an honors thesis focusing on the transforming legality of sexual violence. As a participant in the Research Intensive Bachelor’s Certificate Program with the FSU Department of Political Science, she obtained an internship during which she coded data for a number of national human rights institutions. Soon she will share her enthusiasm for social science research by leading a course sponsored by the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. Rima has served as president for Trafficked at FSU, a registered student organization dedicated to human trafficking awareness and education. She also oversees technology issues for the Citizen-Media Evidence Partnership program with Amnesty International. Having studied abroad in both Croatia and Bosnia, Rima holds a special place in her heart for Southeastern Europe. She aspires to a career in human rights law.


Mason Roth

Mason was born and raised in Hollywood, Florida. He is majoring in political science and minoring in African-American Studies. He is an Honors Legal Scholar, a Seminole Torchbearer, and a member of the Garnet and Gold Key Honorary. He served as the 2013-2014 Vice President of the FSU NAACP chapter, and is passionate about socioeconomic education disparities and racial discrimination. As a participant in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, Mason presented his findings on regional minimum wages at the 2014 Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium. Having completed legislative internships with U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Florida Senator Jeremy Ring, he now serves as the 2014-2015 Internal Assistant Director of FSU’s Office of Governmental Affairs. This role allows him to teach the Noles Engaged in Politics (NEP) class and to represent FSU students at the State Capitol and in Washington, D.C. In keeping with his experience of founding a secondary and post-secondary education company and working with at-risk students at Ghazvini Success Academy, he plans to work with an underserved school in Leon County next summer.


James Rujimora

James is a third-year student from Miami, Florida, majoring in sociology and psychology. He also is pursuing the Undergraduate Leadership Certificate. James has an extensive track record of leadership and community engagements, ranging from the Service Leadership Seminar and the President’s Retreat Symposium to serving as a delegate to the 2013 ACC Leadership Conference at Boston College. He is also a graduate of the LeaderShape Institute. James’ current commitments include the Student and Greek Conduct Board, working as a second-year Resident Assistant, and serving his second term as president of RENEW, a peer education group sponsored by the University Counseling Center. James loves to spend his summers at Camp Boggy Creek, a camp for children with chronic and life threatening illnesses. Upon graduation, James intends to pursue a doctorate in clinical and counseling psychology, focusing on grief and survivorship, and working with pediatric cancer patients.


Benjamin Schneider

Benjamin is a sophomore from Lake Worth, Florida. He is an honors student double majoring in international affairs and political science. As a resident assistant employed by the university’s housing office, Benjamin strives to be a positive influence on all aspects of his life. He also is involved with PeaceJam Southeast as a mentor and coach at Lawton Chiles High School. He is a member of Amnesty International’s executive board as well as multiple honor societies. Through his experiences with International Programs, Benjamin is committed to becoming a global citizen and to improving communication among different cultural groups. He is currently learning Turkish and attending cultural events at the Istanbul Cultural Center of Tallahassee. Through the Social Science Scholars program, Benjamin intends to undertake a service project that is both culturally enriching and beneficial to local people.


Julianne Simson

Julianne is a third-year honors student studying international affairs and political science. With ambitions to attend law school, she is an Honors Legal Scholar and an alumna of the FSU College of Law’s Summer for Undergraduates Program. She is a proud Florida native, born and raised in Sarasota. Julianne has a diverse background in politics, having served as a legislative intern for US Senator Bill Nelson and Florida House Representative Erik Fresen. She also was Director of Governmental Affairs for FSU’s Student Government Association. Currently, she is the Advocacy Intern for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Julianne is passionate about a wide array of issues, including conflict resolution, domestic education policy and reform, and human rights. She hopes to use her background in policy and lobbying to make sustainable change. A world traveler, she has studied in Italy under the auspices of the Global Leadership Program. She also has spent time in Poland identifying and examining the effects of genocide.


Jesse Smith-Appelson

Jesse is an honors student pursuing a double major in sociology and environmental studies with a minor in Spanish. She is from Gainesville, Florida. Jesse’s campus and community involvement is fueled by her dedication to social justice, her interest in educational inequalities, and her love for the outdoors. Last summer, she interned with an NGO, Student Action with Farmworkers, as an outreach worker with South Carolina’s Migrant Education Program. She also studied approaches to sustainable development in Nicaragua. Through FSU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, she held a research assistantship exploring human rights in social work practice. Currently, she serves on the Outreach Committee of Phi Beta Kappa and is a member of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Leadership Council. Jesse also has been outreach coordinator for FSU’s Center for Participant Education, an organization that sponsors student-led courses on social justice issues. She has mentored Tallahassee youth through FSU Youth Programs. With music as a lifelong passion, she has been a member of the FSU Marching Chiefs and Campus Band ensembles for the past three years.


Kristina Urdaneta

Kristina is an honors student working on a dual degree in finance and economics with a minor in political philosophy. She is a Miami native born of Hispanic parents. She aspires to work in corporate America after completing her JD/MBA degrees. Kristina was recently selected to be a Freshman Interest Group leader and is eager to advise first-year college students on the opportunities available to them at FSU. Her passion for community service grew out of her involvement with the Light the Night Walk, which raised more than $80,000 dollars last year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She currently serves as the philanthropy chair for her pre-law fraternity and is the co-founder of the Autism Speaks chapter at FSU. In addition to her philanthropic interests, Kristina enjoys working as an undergraduate research assistant in the business management department, investigating “The Impact of CEO Tenure and Board of Director Conflict on Firm Innovation” under the direction of Dr. B. Ellen Parker. She plans to base her honors thesis on the long-term effects of economic illiteracy.


Rachel Way

Rachel is from Lincoln, Nebraska. She is working towards a dual degree with majors in international affairs, political science, and religion. During her FSU career, she has developed a passion for human rights and international law. Rachel serves as the director of the World Affairs Program, treasurer and co-founder for the Society of Practical Ethics, and coach of the FSU Bioethics Team. She has conducted research on national human rights institutions under the direction of Dr. William Moore. She has been inducted into several honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Honors Legal Scholars. Last summer she participated in the College of Law’s Summer for Undergraduates Program. The experience convinced her to pursue a career in international law, a field she also hopes to focus on as a Social Science Scholar.