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COSSPP Undergraduates Win National Awards

April 25, 2018

Social Science Scholars and national award winners
Joan Joseph and Mackenzie Teek
(FSU Photography Services)

The end of spring semester always brings news of national awards and fellowships earned by FSU students, and each year those with majors in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy achieve impressive showings. The college accounts for just over 12% of the campus-wide student population yet regularly makes up a much higher percentage of national award winners.

The FSU Office of National Fellowships announced in April that 11 students received major support for their academic work this year, providing opportunities for international research and study, graduate school and public service.

Two of the recent awardees were members of the 2017 cohort of Social Science Scholars, the college’s signature Get More Than a Degree program for the most outstanding juniors. The program offers leadership training and guidance and preparation for summer projects that, thanks to generous sponsorship donors, students are able to undertake throughout the U.S. and the world.

Mackenzie Teek, a sociology major with a minor in public administration and Portuguese, used her sponsored Social Science Scholars stipend in summer 2017 to conduct a mixed-methods research project report on black racial identity in Brazil. In early April 2018, she was notified of winning an award from the Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange sponsored by the U.S. government for the purpose of increasing mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries. The scholarship will allow her to return to Brazil to continue and expand upon her research.

Joan Joseph is another 2017 Social Science Scholar who has made the most of her opportunities at the college, culminating in a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) award supporting her advanced degree studies at MIT in the fall. For her Social Science Scholars 2017 project, Joseph did archival research in France and Haiti examining patterns of democratization in the island nation. In November 2017, she was named a 2017 Ralph Bunche Summer Institute scholar by the American Political Science Association, which allowed her to prepare her senior thesis on Haiti (full story here). In November 2017 she was selected as a fellow in the Advanced Empirical Research on Politics for Undergraduates Program (AERoPUP) at Ohio State University on the basis of her project assessing the legacy of colonial institutions on modern corruption (full story here).

The NSF-GRFP has also announced an award to Wrojensky Andre pending his admission into a graduate program, possibly at FSU. Andre grew up in Haiti, and witnessing the poverty in that country, he majored in economics with the intention of understanding and improving economic conditions there. His first-hand experience in Haiti and in India, where he interned in summer 2015 has provided him with insights that informed his research and maintained his interest in understanding how poorer countries can engage in institutional reform to generate economic growth.

Undergraduates with majors in the college are frequently winners of the David L. Boren Scholarship, and this year is no exception. Boren Scholarships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

This year’s Boren winners are international affairs (IA) majors Mane Grigoryan and Stephenie Reid. Each will use their award to reside abroad while studying Russian – Grigoryan in Kazakhstan and Reid in Latvia.

Other COSSPP students will study language thanks to the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), an overseas language and cultural immersion program that fully funds the selected American undergraduate and graduate students. The CLS winners this year are Akice Agwa (IA, studying Arabic in Oman), William (Brett) Crawford (Economics, Arabic in Jordan) and Tatum Shannon (IA, studying Chinese at the Dalian University of Technology in China).

Matthew Hebron, a 2018 Social Science Scholar, will use his CLS to study Russian in Kyrgyzstan. His summer Scholars project will take him out West to conduct academic research on national parks.

Another IA major, Brittany Robinson, will study abroad thanks to the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which offers grants for U.S. citizen undergrads to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships in other countries. Such international exchange, according to the program, is intended to better prepare students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.

The Public Policy International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute is an intensive seven-week summer program that focuses on preparing students for graduate programs in public and international affairs and careers as policy professionals, public administrators and other leadership roles in public service. Roberto Flores, a double major in interdisciplinary social science and music received both the PPIA and the 2018 Pat Cox-Humanity in Action Fellowship. Flores, who was born in Mexico City and moved to south Texas at the age of 10, plans to pursue graduate degrees in law and public policy while continuing a musical career and exploration of compositions from Latin America, highlighting the contributions of indigenous and Afro-descendent people. Flores is also a 2017 John Lewis Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (full story here).