|Five of our recent alumni at the annual banquet|
|Students & Faculty at departmental banquet|
|Public History students with Lenora Henson (adjunct professor & curator at the Teddy Roosevelt Inaugural Site)|
At the banquet we also honored Jessica Zimpfer, the recipient of our annual Distinguished Alumni award. Zimpfer, class of 2006, spoke eloquently about how the department shaped her career trajectory, stating, “I honestly would not be where I am in my life if I had not been a part of this program.” Zimpfer went on to earn a Master’s degree in Social Work and currently works as a Therapist for Crisis Services in Buffalo, where she provides “free supportive counseling to survivors of sexual violence and elder abuse, bearing witness to their trauma, validating their experiences, teaching coping skills and how to use them, reminding them of their own self-worth and their progress, and moving with them as they go through the healing process.” This is incredibly important work and we, as a department, could not be more proud of Zimpfer’s success.
|Jessica Zimpfer (class of '06) speaks to department students, alumni, and faculty about how her degree impacted her career.|
This year’s Ruth Stratton Award winner was Megan Racinowski . Megan is a Political Science major—with planned minors in History, Pre-Law, and Literature—who just completed her second year at Daemen. The Ruth Stratton Award honors the legacy of Ruth Stratton, a long-time professor in the History & Political Science department. Stratton exhibited excellence as a teacher, advisor, and visionary for the department and College as a whole. The Scholarship seeks to recognize a student whom we believe can someday exhibit that level of professional excellence in his or her chosen career. We, as a department, are confident that Megan exhibits this potential for excellence. As a Sophomore, Megan has completed the Washington Internship Institute program and has plans to attend law school when she graduates (you can read more about Megan's amazing Washington, D.C. internship here). She will be completing a second internship this summer with Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), exhibiting her passion for her education and taking full advantage of the high impact practices available at Daemen.
|Megan Racinowski outside of the Russell Senate office building for her internship in Washington, D.C.|
Our Best Senior Thesis Award this year went to Brianna Zichettella for her thesis entitled, “American Confederates and Deep State Subversives: Comparing Echo Chamber Formation on Hannity and The Rachel Maddow Show.” Brianna watched Rachel Maddow’s and Sean Hannity’s punditry for one month and compared their framing of news items, tone of coverage, and quality of the guests brought on to analyze newsworthy items. Her senior thesis demonstrated the capability of both of these political pundits to create an echo chamber and further the polarization of our political dialogue.
|Brianna Zichettella, winner of the Best Senior Thesis Award|
In addition to Brianna, Dr. Andrew Wise and I—as the thesis instructors this year—decided to award distinction to several other senior thesis projects. Several of our students wrote high quality theses and truly embraced the process of researching an area of interest. Each of these students also focused on topics that exhibit the importance of civic knowledge and research related to social justice. Taqiyah Gibbons wrote about the commodification of slavery and the importance of historical context on former slave plantations. Shaquilla Reid researched the opioid crisis and how it compared with the 1980's war on drugs. Her research lends credence to the idea that the racial groups affected by the crisis impact the government’s response. Casey Young’s thesis focused on the human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba—a topic which has continued to be apart of the national conversation about the treatment of prisoners and military detainees. Shamella Jeffers focused on the portrayal of African Americans in popular culture, specifically focusing on the satirical take on race relations in The Boondocks. Finally, Ryan Langer researched the role of Nestor Makhno, a Ukrainian anarchist, in the Russian Revolution. Dr. Wise and I were both impressed with the quality of work of each of these students and were happy to grant each of them a distinction in research award.
|Senior Thesis Distinction Award recipients (from left to right): Taqiyah Gibbons, Shaquilla Reid, Brianna Zichettella, and Shamella Jeffers. Not pictured: Ryan Langer and Casey Young|
We are incredibly proud of all of our graduating seniors and wish them the best of luck with their chosen career paths! We have several students pursuing graduate school and law school as well as several who have already found jobs in their field. We wish them all the success in the world and cannot wait to invite them back to the banquet as alumni (and maybe as distinguished speakers)!