2016 Students

Jeron Fenton – Princeton University

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171116Jeron Fenton is an undergraduate student at Princeton University pursuing a bachelor of arts in Politics and a Certificate in Political Economy. While at Princeton, in addition to having opportunities to study in Beijing, China and London, England, Jeron has served as the Treasurer of Princeton’s African Students Association and Big Sib in the Community House mentorship program. Politically speaking, Jeron is interested broadly in American Politics with more specific interests in African American Politics, Elections, and Campaigns. To date, Jeron has completed research in on racialized social pressure in the African American community and media perceptions of current New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker. Upon graduating in the spring of 2017, Jeron plans to attend graduate school for political science or law school.

Dara Gaines – University of Arkansas

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171156Dara Gaines is an honors junior majoring in political science at The University of Arkansas. She is the Vice-President of the Lambda Theta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She is also a Silas H. Hunt and Dean’s List scholar, President of the Black Student’s Association and Vice-President of the Black Alumni Association. Dara was recently selected as the undergraduate recipient of the Northwest Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus Emerging Leader Scholarship. Due to her passion for history and working with children, Dara has developed an interest in the political participation habits of Black youth. Exploring various ways to stimulate their interest, Dara hopes her research will help to increase their participation, even to the point of holding office themselves. After college, Dara will enroll in a political science graduate program focusing on public policy.

Claudia Granillo – University of Nebraska in Omaha

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171209Claudia Granillo is a junior at the University of Nebraska in Omaha (UNO). She is a political science major with a concentration in foreign and national security affairs and a minor in history. Claudia is a 2013 Susan T. Buffett Scholarship recipient. Her interests include questions regarding the recruitment of young women into terrorist organizations, the effects of U.S. foreign policy, and the role gender and ethnicity play in political participation within the U.S. Claudia has been accepted into the 4+1 Political Science Program at UNO. This program will allow her to pursue her MS in political science while she is still completing her undergraduate degree. During her free time Claudia enjoys volunteering at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School.

Jose Gomez – Binghamton University

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171200Jose Gomez is a junior studying at Binghamton University. Throughout his college years, Jose has volunteered as a teaching assistant at Binghamton’s American Civic Association and also involved himself as a graphic designer in the city of Binghamton’s local elections. As a McNair Scholar, he has involved himself in multiple independent studies across multiple disciplines. Jose is passionate about research and the process of discovery. Majoring in political science, he is interested in studying issues of representation including public opinion, money in politics, and voter disenfranchisement. Jose hopes to pursue a PhD in American Government at a top research institution.

Nicauris Rosario Heredia – Rhode Island College

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171220As a first-generation Latina college student, Nicauris Rosario Heredia is a junior double-major in political science and public administration at Rhode Island College. She currently serves as the president of Pi Sigma Alpha at Rhode Island College, and is the research assistant of Professor Robyn Linde. She is also actively involved in the Political Science Club and Student Community Government. Her research interests revolve around issues of race and ethnicity in the global south, Latino political participation, human rights, immigration and international relations. Her current honors thesis/research seeks to explain how the government of the Dominican Republic is reconstructing race in order to deny citizenship to Haitians. Upon graduating from college, Nicauris plans to enter into a political science graduate program in the field of international relations.

Jasmine C. Jackson – Jackson State University

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171135Jasmine C. Jackson is a rising Senior Political Science Major at Jackson State University. A Dean’s List scholar, her research interests focuses on controversial political issues that plague minority communities and the effect these issues have on societal placement. Last summer, Jasmine had the privilege of working with Dr. Geoff Ward at the University of California at Irvine on a research that examines historical racial violence. She has vast research experience and has presented at the various conferences, such as, the Pi Sigma Alpha Student conference, the Southern Political Science Association conference in Puerto Rico, and the University of Michigan’s Emerging Scholars Conference. In the future, she hopes to earn a Doctoral degree in Political Science and teach on the collegiate level.

Ana Jones – North Carolina Central University

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171146Ana Jones is a native of Shelby, North Carolina and is currently a junior at North Carolina Central University majoring in political science. She is an advocate for racial equality and social justice and enjoys learning how state and local policies affect the lives of those she is closest to. She hopes to attend graduate school in political science to further her interest in political psychology and to begin her research on the psyche of the black community in the arena of politics. She also hopes to become a promoter of political education and reform in her local community.

Heidi Obediente – University of Central Florida

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171255Heidi Obediente is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Central Florida (UCF). She obtained her associates degree a semester after finishing high school, and is now pursuing a B.A. in International and Global studies, minor in Cognitive Sciences, and certificate in Intelligence and Security. Heidi is an active member of Pi Sigma Alpha, Golden Key Honor Society, the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success, Tau Sigma, and three campus organizations. Heidi is active in volunteer work: theBoys and Girls Club, the Invictus games, UNICEF, Women’s Day, and the Childhood Cancer Foundation. Before graduating she will spend a semester studying at the University of Groningen, and conduct original independent research through UCF’s Honors in the Major program. After completing her undergraduate studies, she intends to pursue a doctoral degree in politics science with an emphasis on social policy. Her research interests include: gender politics, equality rights, global environmental sustainability.

Renzo Olivari – James Madison University

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171190Renzo Olivari is a junior at James Madison University, graduating in May 2017. He is a double major in political science and history, with a minor in political communications. In the 2015-2016 academic year, he was a fellow for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, where he researched minorities’ representation in Congress. He also has worked for numerous political campaigns, following his interests in voter mobilization. His research interests include minorities’ interactions with the political system, as well as campaigning tactics and voter turnout. He plans on attending graduate school to study political science.

Danielle Russell – University of Connecticut

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171232Danielle Russell is a third year student at the University of Connecticut and majors in political science. Recently, Danielle has been conducting research on black conservatives, their experiences and how they are received in the black community. Her research interests include cultural diversity and race relations within the United States. After graduating, Danielle plans to pursue a Ph.D. in political science and teach at the collegiate level.

Maryam Sarhan – Stockton University in Galloway

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171184Maryam Sarhan is a student at Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey majoring in political science with minors in international studies, and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. Maryam serves as the student trustee on the Board of Trustees, and has been recently elected to serve as the student senate president. She has received a Stockton Board of Trustees Fellowship for Distinguished Students to conduct civic engagement research while attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this upcoming July. An outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice, she is an active member of Amnesty International of South Jersey as well as Stockton’s Model United Nations team where she represents Stockton nationally and internationally. Maryam teaches and mentors underprivileged students in her local community, and advocates on behalf of the women and girls of Atlantic County on Atlantic County’s Advisory Commission on Women. She plans to pursue a career in International Relations with the United Nations.

Jasmine Smith – Indiana University

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171174Jasmine Smith is from Fishers, Indiana and is going to be a senior at Indiana University in the fall. At Indiana University, she is a Political Science major with minors in Philosophy and Spanish. While not immersed in academics, she is a Resident Assistant for an on campus residence hall. She also give tours to prospective students interested in attending Indiana University.

Naomi Tolbert – Southern Illinois University of Carbondale

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171124Naomi Tolbert is a junior double majoring in Political Science with a specialization in International Affairs and International Studies with a focus area in the Middle East and Northern Africa at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. She currently serves as the Vice President of Intercultural Experiences and Diversity within the Honors Program, where she strives to promote opportunities for students to expand their cultural knowledge and inclusiveness. She is the active Vice President of Finance of the Beta Eta chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority and is the Assistant Vice President of Recruitment within the Panhellenic Association on her campus. Naomi is a SIUC Four Year Excellence Scholar and a Horatio Alger In-State Scholar. She is also a Political Science Ambassador and has been recognized for high honors on the Liberal Arts Dean’s List every semester of her college career. As a first generation, minority student, Naomi received the opportunity to become a McNair Scholar and take part in the summer research program at SIUC, where she received second place at the summer symposium. During Spring Break she completed an Externship through the SIU Alumni Association where she shadowed local judges and worked on court cases. This year she completed an Undergraduate Research Assistantship where she conducted research in relation to the individual perceptions shared of Middle Eastern students by American students on campus. Naomi will continue her leadership experience as the next Southern Illinois University Carbondale Student Trustee for the 2016-2017 school year, her term will begin July 1st, 2016.

Priscilla Torres – Loyola Marymount University

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171239With a passion for social justice and interdisciplinary education, Priscilla Torres is a political science major, biology minor and McNair scholar at Loyola Marymount University. She has an interest in international relations that was sparked after a trip to Japan through the Tomodachi Inouye Scholars Program, which seeks to foster American-Japanese relations through student to student diplomacy. During the fall of 2015 she completed a congressional internship in Washington, D.C., participating in legislative research as a Keith Sherin Global Scholar. This past spring she received funding to take part in an international security course and conduct fieldwork in Northern Ireland focused on the importance of women in peacebuilding process. After graduation, Priscilla hopes to pursue a PhD in political science to study topics of peace and conflict, and U.S. foreign policy, hoping to become a professor to inspire a search for a deeper understanding of the world within future generations of political scientists.

Akua Yamoah – University of South Florida

RBSI 2016 Portraits 20160617-S6171166Akua Yamoah is a first generation Ghanaian American born and raised in Florida. She recently graduated from the University of South Florida with two degrees in Women’s & Gender Studies and International Studies. During her time in college, she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and President of Triota Honor Society her senior year. Her love for learning about new cultures and traveling the world led her to do an internship in D.C. for a semester and a summer abroad in Costa Rica. Upon graduation, she plans to give back to her country by participating in AmeriCorps then attending graduate school in Fall 2017 for political science and public policy.