Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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2021 Social Science Scholars

Rawan Abhari

Rawan is a second-year student majoring in economics and Middle Eastern studies with a minor in African American studies. She is currently a legislative intern at the Florida Capitol and is involved in numerous campus organizations, including Student Government, Power of WE, the President’s Anti-Racism Task Force, PeaceJam, Office of Governmental Affairs and the Student Foundation. She also is a member of the Garnet and Gold and Renegade honor societies. Rawan is committed to mobilizing students across identity and community lines to advocate for progressive and equitable university policies. Following graduation, she intends to earn graduate degrees in law and economics and to engage in climate change negotiations and policy making at the international level.

Krista Alles

Krista is a junior from Miami majoring in public health with a minor in Spanish. After discovering her passion for public health, she founded and currently serves as president of the student-led Public Health Organization. She also is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity and serves as chair of its Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Krista is committed to other college service organizations as well, including the Student Leadership Council. She has worked as a research assistant for Torchlight, FSU’s student-run think tank, and as a volunteer with Hearts for the Homeless, conducting blood pressure screenings for the homeless community in Tallahassee. These experiences have sparked Krista’s career interests in epidemiology, beginning with Master of Public Health training, and in an accelerated nursing program that will enable her to continue serving and advocating for healthcare equity.

Alyssa Burns

Alyssa Burns is an interdisciplinary social science major with concentrations in sociology and political science. She has been working with vulnerable populations since 2005 and is now the director of domestic violence programs at C.A.R.E., the certified domestic violence center in Charlotte, Fla. There she counsels victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and other violent crimes, and attends court on a weekly basis with survivors. Alyssa also oversees all domestic violence outreach programs and staff, including grant writing and reporting. She has been a volunteer mentor for the Take Stock in Children program, a board member for the Charlotte Local Education Foundation and an auxiliary board member for the local Do the Right Thing program. Her passion is helping people and, following graduation, she plans to earn a master’s degree in social work at FSU. 

Mackenzie Campbell

Mackenzie is a sophomore from Saint Augustine. She is seeking a B.S. in international affairs with a concentration in political science, as well as a B.A. in English literature, media and culture with a minor in psychology. As a member of the 2021 FSU Social Science Scholars program, she hopes to intern in Washington, D.C. or New York during the summer with Homeland Security. Mackenzie is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Women in Pre-Law, Phi Alpha Delta, the national pre-law fraternity and Garnet and Gold Global Honor Society. She is a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. Mackenzie is currently on the Dean’s List. She plans to participate in the Honors in the Major next fall, focusing on legal aspects of domestic terrorism. Following graduation, she plans to attend law school and to focus on international issues and disputes.

Chelsea Casabona

Chelsea is a junior from Marco Island pursuing a dual degree in international affairs and political science, with a minor in film. During her sophomore year she conducted research on the reasons for political motivation through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). Chelsea holds leadership roles as a Pre-Law Freshman Interest Group Leader, a freshman peer-mentor, a student coordinator for the Women’s Leadership Institute and an FSU community ambassador for 4H, a community organization. In her free time, Chelsea volunteers with Food Not Bombs, a mutual aid group that distributes free hot meals every Sunday. As a Social Science Scholar, Chelsea hopes to work with a summer program that focuses on mutual aid, human rights and community-based activism. In the future, she hopes to serve in the Peace Corps, pursue a Ph.D. and eventually become an investigative documentarian. 

Guissella E. Cruz Rodriguez

Guissella is a third-year student majoring in Sociology. Guissella is a Service Scholar, a UROP Leader, a 100 Torchbearer, 2022 IOP Fellow, a Garnet and Gold Key Scholar, and a 2021 Global Scholar. She was a research assistant at FSU’s Center for Human Rights. Guissella was in UROP with Dr. Brendan Lantz and Dr. Marin Wenger, investigating the relationship between Confederate monuments and hate crimes. She is an Honors in the Major candidate, investigating the impact of image-based sexual abuse victimization among BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ youth. Guissella presented research at 2020, 2021, and 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium and the 2021 and 2022 Florida Undergraduate Research Conference. She served as a 2020 legislative intern in the Florida Senate and was a 2021 legislative intern with Pittman Law Group. Guissella aspires to pursue a Ph.D. in Sociology. Guissella created a small business, Divine Survivor Candles, dedicated to empowering survivors of SA and researching how to prevent victimization and revictimization among youth.

Jaylen Darling

Jaylen is a junior interdisciplinary social science major from Palm Beach County. He is studying public policy and social entrepreneurship with a minor in Chinese. He entered FSU in the First Semester Abroad Program, studying in London with International Programs. Jaylen has interned for the 15th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida and State Senator Bobby Powell Jr.’s Tallahassee office. On campus, he served on the Dean’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan Committee and was an ambassador for the Student Alumni Association and now one of the President’s Ambassadors. He is also director of policy analysis for the Torchlight Campus Policy Center, working with a team to strengthen democracy among students. He also works part-time as an impact analysis assistant at Domi Station and is a criminal justice policy intern for the Florida Police Institute. This summer, Jaylen will be a fellow in the University of Michigan’s Public Policy and International Affairs Program.

Will Dibbs

Will is a junior from Tampa pursuing a dual degree in history and international affairs. He is a member of the FSU Honors College. Since freshman year, Will has been involved with Amnesty International’s FSU chapter and has served on its board for two years. In the fall of his junior year, he accepted a volunteer position with Amnesty USA as a student activist coordinator for the state of Florida. Since spring 2020, Will has been volunteering with Darasa, an on-campus organization that pairs college students as English tutors with migrant and refugee students in Leon County. He now serves on Darasa’s board. During his freshman year, Will participated in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and presented the results of his work at a university research symposium. Although he has not decided definitively on a career, following graduation Will plans to continue studying history at the graduate level.

Laura Escher

Laura is a junior from Tampa majoring in international affairs with concentrations in economics and modern languages. She has been on the President’s List each semester and will be inducted this year into the Alpha Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Laura entered the Global Citizenship Certificate Program in her first semester to broaden her world view by increasing her knowledge and understanding of different languages and cultures. She is in her second semester as a volunteer facilitator in the English Conversation Club. Laura has maintained a passion for the arts since childhood and is an avid pianist and singer. She has pursued her musical interests at FSU by singing with the College of Music’s Choral Union and by studying piano privately with Dr. Diana Dumlavwalla. She has followed the Royal Conservatory of Music’s curriculum for seven years and has taken piano exams annually since 2015. This summer, Laura hopes to enroll in an intensive language school for French and complete an internship.

Tashoi James

Tashoi is a senior majoring in political science with a minor in commercial entrepreneurship. She is also pursuing a Global Citizen Certificate. Tashoi is interested in grassroots programs that support racial equality and criminal justice reform. She interned with the office of State Attorney Dave Aronberg in the Domestic Violence Division and was a member of the 2020 Model United Nations Team. Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Tashoi understands the impact of poverty on youths’ low academic achievement. She is passionate about finding new ways to provide youths with equal educational opportunities with less financial cost. She aims to achieve this through political means. Tashoi also conducted research on Ghana’s water crisis. Its intent was to increase awareness of the crisis’s costly effects and to increase aid to remedy it. Following graduation, she plans to work with the American Civil Liberties Union’s national security program to reform government entities that discriminate against race and support unlawful killings and detentions.

Hannah Justus

Hannah is a junior from Naples, FL. She is earning a dual degree in political science and English literature with minors in psychology and French. As a Presidential Scholar and Institute of Politics Fellow, Hannah is passionate about human rights and education advocacy. During her time at FSU, she has conducted research at the College of Education on autism spectrum disorder, and she presented her findings on virtual reality as an autism intervention method at the President’s Showcase for Undergraduate Research Excellence. She has also spent significant time working on education policy as a legislative affairs intern with the Florida Department of Education. She is currently a volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem program, where she advocates in the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court for the rights and needs of children in the foster care system. After graduation, she hopes to attend law school and to continue advocating for equitable education laws and policy in the United States.

Macie Lavender

Macie is a junior from Tampa earning a dual degree in political science and international affairs and another in Middle Eastern Studies. She has been involved with grassroots activism and public service since 2017, when she worked for U.S. Representative Kathy Castor in Tampa. In 2018, she continued this work by organizing Tampa Bay March for Our Lives. At FSU she has tutored Syrian refugees in English through Students Organize for Syria. She also has interned with the International Rescue Committee, helping to settle refugee families in Tallahassee. Macie is passionate about public policy and human rights and has advocated with refugees and asylum seekers through FSU‘s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights and the Florida House of Representatives. She is currently conducting research for an honors thesis on the effects that refugees have on public attitudes toward democracy in host nations. Now in her third year of Arabic, Macie hopes to achieve fluency in the language to better assist migrants from the Middle East/North Africa in multiple ways. Following graduation, she wants to continue advocating for immigrants and refugees in the U.S. and abroad.

Tiffany Leung

Tiffany is a junior majoring in international affairs with a minor in philosophy and Arabic. She grew up in Hong Kong and moved to Fort Myers two years ago. Prior to college, Tiffany studied German language and culture at the Goethe Institute of Berlin, where her passions grew for language learning and diplomacy. Tiffany was the vice president of student government, co-founder of the Global Citizen’s Club, and a devoted employee of the Office of Adaptive Services while studying at Florida SouthWestern State College. Since high school, she has coordinated and competed in Model UN conferences, both domestically and internationally. She is currently on the World Affairs Program’s Model UN team at FSU. Tiffany’s research interests focus on leaderless movements worldwide and derive from her experiences with the 2014 and 2019 Hong Kong Protests. After graduation, she plans to enter the Peace Corps before pursuing graduate education in international relations.

Kristine Lindo

Kristine is a first-generation student from Kingston, Jamaica, and a junior majoring in political science with a minor in international affairs. She is a transfer student from Tallahassee Community College, where she received the 2020 Women’s History Month Valiant Women of the Year Award. In her free time Kristine enjoys reading, swimming and being an active member of Phi Theta Kappa. Last year she interned with the City of Tallahassee’s public transit department. Her passion for public service stems from her time with the State of Florida’s Department of Children and Families. As a Social Science Scholar, Kristine hopes to engage in local politics, sharpen her leadership skills and gain real-life experience for a career in public policy and administration. Following graduation, she intends to pursue a master’s degree in public administration and to make a difference in the lives of people within her community.

Steven Londono

Steven is a second-year student from Orange Park. He is earning a dual degree in international affairs and economics with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies. He serves as leadership chair for the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Student Leadership Council. In that role he facilitates communication between students and the dean of the college. Steven also is a cadet in FSU’s Army ROTC program. Upon graduation he will be commissioned a second lieutenant. After attending the Raffles World Academy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Steven was inspired to continue studying Middle Eastern languages and cultures. He now works for peace and security in the Middle East and for an end of Islamophobia in the West. He hopes to attend AMIDEAST’s intensive course in Amman, Jordan, next summer to deepen his understanding of the Arabic language and culture.

Chelsea Long

Chelsea is a senior from Palm Bay, Fla., pursuing a dual degree in political science and Middle Eastern studies. Her scholarly interests include economic, political and social development and media studies. She has interned with the International Rescue Committee, an organization that resettles refugees in the Tallahassee area, and has continued her involvement with the organization as a tutor with its Youth Mentorship Program. Chelsea serves as president of Students for Justice in Palestine. As a social justice advocate, she is also a public policy and legislative intern with the Children’s Campaign, an organization advocating for children’s rights in Florida. This semester, she is conducting independent research on 20th century development in the Middle East. After graduation, she wants to earn dual master’s degrees in international development policy and media studies. 

Laura Medina

Laura Medina is a first-generation student from La Habana, Cuba. She is a majoring in international affairs with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. She entered FSU in the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) Program. Laura has worked with the Center for Leadership and Social Change, organizing volunteer opportunities for students with Engage TLH. She also has been a facilitator for the Service Leadership Seminar. Her passion for different cultures inspired her to pursue a Global Citizenship Certificate and to work with international students through the Center for Global Engagement. Laura has been on the Hispanic Latinx Student Union’s board for two years and is currently the organization’s assistant director. In this position she represents and advocates for the Hispanic/Latinx community on campus. After graduating, Laura wants to pursue an M.A. in international affairs and to continue her work on global issues.

Jessica Middleton

Jessica is a third-year student from Palm Coast, pursuing a dual degree in international affairs and political science with a minor in economics. She also is earning an emergency management and homeland security certificate. Jessica aspires to become a policy expert and writer in international affairs, so that she can help create solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. As an intern with the office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Florida House of Representatives and the City of Palm Coast, she has worked with different levels of government on multiple projects. On campus, Jessica serves as vice director of the World Affairs Program, FSU’s top-ten Model United Nations team. In that role she selects and organizes team discussion and preparation on a wide range of international issues.

Jamie Rosseland

Jamie is a first-generation student from Jacksonville and a junior majoring in interdisciplinary social science. She has worked and volunteered in various capacities within the nonprofit sector for several years. Her major concerns have been youth empowerment, gender-based violence and anti-trafficking. Jamie currently serves on the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s State Advisory Group. She also is working with the United Nations on an international team to develop policy recommendations on the intersection of justice systems and human trafficking. In 2018, Jamie won the Survivor Advocate of the Year award presented by the Florida attorney general for her outstanding work with exploited youth. In the future, she hopes to enter a master’s program in sociology and continue to influence public policy and research. 

Fabian Valentin

Fabian is a third-year student from Orlando majoring in international affairs with a minor in economics. He also is earning a certificate in U.S. intelligence studies from FSU’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program. As a freshman, Fabian participated in the Global and Public Affairs Living-Learning Community and the Pre-Law Society, for which he later became treasurer. In his third year, Fabian joined the Torchlight Campus Policy Center as a policy analyst and was selected as an inaugural fellow at the Institute of Politics. Off campus, his experiences include work at a boutique law firm, volunteer positions within a number of political campaigns, an internship at the Florida House of Representatives and, most recently, an internship at the office of the General Counsel of the Central Florida Expressway Authority. With strong interest in the intersection of economic policy and law, Fabian plans to obtain a J.D. and, eventually, pursue a career in public service.