Erica Wheeler is a student at the University of Louisville where she is majoring in political science and minoring in Pan-African studies. Erica is passionate about studying and researching “politics and race,” particularly regarding Black and Latino communities. Recently, she completed an independent study on “Mass Incarceration in America,” where she discovered a pattern of contributing factors that led to the devastating increase. Erica is a Woodford R. Porter scholar whose scholastic performance has placed her on The Dean’s List . She works in the Office of Admissions as an admissions volunteer who introduces prospective high school students to the University of Louisville. Upon graduation, Erica plans to pursue a doctoral degree in political science where she plans to produce and publish research that will influence policy-makers and legislation impacting race and social justice in a career as a university professor.
Pamela Ortega, University of Oklahoma
Pamela Ortega is a double major in journalism and political science at the University of Oklahoma. A McNair scholar, her research focuses on religion and politics, specifically a comparison of political behaviors between Mennonite communities in Mexico and the United States. She is currently a research assistant for a project on the 1977 Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders. Pam has presented her research on severe weather vulnerabilities in Spanish speaking communities at the American Meteorological Society Conference and the Oklahoma Service Learning Conference. She covered the 2016 presidential election for the Huffington Post and reported on voting rights with News 21. She co-founded the Roosevelt Institute, a think tank at her school. Pam is currently a ProPublica emerging reporter, reporter for Oklahoma Routes and a member of Pi Sigma Alpha. She hopes to earn a doctoral degree in political science and teach.
Preston Parrish is an international affairs major at the University of Cincinnati, and is working toward certificates in security studies and international human rights. As well as being on the Dean’s List, he is a scholar under the McNair program and the Minority Empowerment Initiative Trust; and is currently serving as the President of UC’s Arabic Language Club. Preston has worked under Tom Carroll, City Manager for the Village of Silverton, as well as assisted in research on the implications of clandestine operations under Dr. Brendan Green at UC. Preston’s current research involves the social and economic impact of refugee resettlement in Cincinnati. In the future, he is interested in looking at the connections between liberalism and realism, as well as exploring the balance between freedom and security within American politics and how that dichotomy plays out through the various cultures across the country. Preston plans to go to graduate school to pursue a PhD.
Joan Joseph is a student at Florida State University (FSU), pursuing a dual degree in political science and statistics, along with minors in mathematics and computational science. She has recently completed the Research-Intensive Bachelor’s Certificate in political science at FSU where she conducted empirical research in comparative politics which focused on comparative political corruption. Her current research aims to flesh out patterns of democratization and introduce Haiti as a case that can inform our understanding of the racially charged context of colonialism, as well as its impacts on future development and democratic consolidation. As a Social Science Scholar, a FSU program for distinguished social science majors, Joan has received grants to conduct archival research and trace the progression of democratic consolidation in postcolonial Haiti by probing colonial period political and administrative systems present in historical and oral narratives. Upon graduation, Joan plans to pursue a MS in mathematical statistics, and then a PhD in political science with subfields in comparative politics and political methodology.
Monique Newton, Oberlin College
Monique Newton is a student at Oberlin College double majoring in politics and law and society with a minor in Africana studies. As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow at Oberlin College, she is currently working on a research project that examines the relationship between African Americans and the government through an analysis of African American political participation. Her project is titled “Myths vs. Reality: Uncovering the Causes of African American Voter Turnout in the United States.” She has also conducted research for a member of Boston City Council on a potential policy that guarantees state housing for citizens who have just been released from jail or prison. Her overall research interests include African American voting behavior and the affect public policy has on disadvantaged groups in the United States. In addition to her research, she has served as a member of the student finance committee, a seven-student committee that allocates 1.3 million dollars from the student activity fund to student organizations, for two years. In the future she plans to pursue a doctoral degree in political science.
Kangkana Koli, Eastern Michigan University
Kangkana Koli is a student at Eastern Michigan University majoring in political science with minors in public law and government and Asian studies. She has a strong passion for social justice issues, and advocating for change at her school. She serves as vice president of her university’s mock trial team, the director of social justice for student government, a political science tutor, and director of special events for college democrats. Beyond her campus and community engagement positions, Kangkana places a great amount of importance on academic research related to topics about developing countries and the immigrant experience in America. She is a presenter on the topic of religious extremism in developing countries at the 2017 Eastern Michigan University Undergraduate Symposium and is working on a senior thesis on this topic. She plans to pursue this research in her graduate studies in the hopes that she can contribute to the formation of a positive relationship between the U.S. and its international counterparts, as well as advocate for immigration policy reform in the U.S.
Avery D. Pearl is a student at Augustana College, in Rock Island Illinois majoring in political science and Africana studies. Vice President of his college’s NAACP chapter, Avery has worked to improve the social life of all disenfranchised people on campus and create an environment which embodies diversity and inclusion. He is the president of his campus’s Multicultural Men’s Association, works on the college President’s Student Advisory Council, on his institution’s Sexual Health and Violence Prevention Committee, and has created multiple workshops focused on perspective and diversity. Within his community, Avery has coordinated panels on diversity, voter registration drives, worked on political campaigns and enacted programs such as youth library card registration days within impoverished communities. Avery is a firm advocate for those who are disenfranchised, who feel as though they have no voice.
Andre Ross is a student at the University of Houston. After a career in business that spans for over a decade, he is currently majoring in political science with an emphasis on law and the effects of democratization. Andre is also currently interning at Outreach Strategists, a political consulting and public relations firm in Houston, Texas. He helps this firm connect needful communities with various resources. He has been an active member for clubs on campus such as UH Democrats and Phi Alpha Delta. His research interests have emphasized ways to observe how domestic and international legal institutions impact minority communities within the United States and developing countries across the globe. Mr. Ross is implementing work with Fe Y Justicia Worker Center, an organization committed to fighting human trafficking. In the future, Andre has plans to develop several research topics including the management of poverty and mass incarceration in the U.S., political economy of Latin America and Africa, and the development of authoritarian regimes. His ultimate goal is to become a professor while maintaining a role in exploring ideas that help develop underprivileged communities.