Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center

Levitt Scholars

Spring 2012

The College Experience

Frederique Dupré: “A Leg Up: College Admission Strategies”

Having worked in Hamilton's Admissions Office for four years (three as a tour guide and currently as an intern), I have learned a lot about the college admission process.  In my presentation I share easy tips and strategies that can make students stand out during the college application process. Ideally, I would like to do my presentation for 10th or 11th graders in AP or honors classes, preferably at lower-resource schools. The information I share is similar to the kind a college counselor would, so I would like to do my presentation especially for students who may not have access to such a resource.

English/Creative Writing

Anne Hudson: “Creative Expression in Everyday Life”

The goal of this presentation is to show students how creative writing can stretch their imagination and allow them to communicate more exactly and effectively in everyday life. It is oriented specifically towards students who haven't had much creative writing experience, and is a workshop with two parts. In the first part we will read a jargon (a love poem written by Alan Dugan) and will discuss both the jargon and the effectiveness of the poem. Students will then create their own jargon poem. For the second part we will read a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins that uses a lot of complex, contrasting words and will discuss the effectiveness of the juxtaposition of words. Students will then create a poem based on a list of the class' favorite words. The ultimate goal is for students to become more comfortable with language and expressing themselves in everyday life.

Environmental Studies

Roxanne Makoff: "What Goes Around Comes Around: Recycling at Your School"

Because the human population increasing at a rapid rate the practice of recycling is a necessity every individual should recognize and honor in order to preserve our limited natural resources.  In the United States recycling infrastructure and education have grown over the years, but there still remains a substantial population that is ignorant and/or confused by the theory and practice of what it means to have good recycling habits.  Where is the best place to confront this lack of education and uncertainty?  School: a place where young people learn and bring the knowledge into their future, forming good habits and sharing these practices with peers.  This presentation, directed at high school students who participate in environmental groups on campus, intends to discuss, plan, and improve on-campus recycling programs.

Global Studies

Henry Anreder: “Israel and Jordan: Beyond the Stereotypes of the Middle East”

My presentation focuses on my study abroad experience in Israel and a trip that I could took to Jordan while in the region. I explain my original preconceptions before living in Israel for five months and my trip to Jordan. Then, through anecdotes, photographs and a video clip, I explain the Middle East behind the surface of conflict, religion, oil and camels. I review the places I went and fun abroad, then I more prominently touch on issues of identity and less overt interpersonal conflicts I witnessed in Israel and Jordan.

Colin Chapin: “National Identity vs. Statehood; The Sudetenland’s Legacy

This presentation examines the differences between nations and states, and how this difference can cause troubles with self-determination. I use the example of the problems in the Sudetenland using history and my own experiences in the region from studying abroad in Prague. The presentation concludes with a discussion about how these issues are still very relevant today.

Austin Walker: “Kenyan Youth Perspectives”

Kenyan Youth Perspectives is a presentation geared towards connecting high school age students with the lives of their peers across the globe. The presentation will provide a geographical and cultural background to students through the use of images and maps before performing an examination of Kenyan students’ lives, challenges and dreams. While in Kenya, Austin did 138 interviews with Kenyan high school students. These interviews revealed a high level of intellect, imagination and drive among pupils. The goal of the presentation is to connect American students to the experiences of Kenyan students by describing the differences that can be observed between Kenyan and American youths’ lives. Austin will engage his audience through discussion and ask them to think critically about how their perceptions of African youth are constructed and the possible implications of these perspectives.

Personal Development

Jennifer Keefe: “I Can Tell That We’re Gonna Be Friends: A Story About Friendship”

Throughout my life I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by supportive, funny, and loving friends. As a non-drinker, however, my transition to the college social experience proved to be unique and challenging. Despite my involvement in athletics and several extracurricular activities I struggled to make friends in a drinking culture. It was not until my junior year that I found meaningful relationships with friends that I wanted. Although my story is neither tragic nor life changing, my simple story of friendship shows how these relationships can be incredibly transformative and meaningful.

Perry Ryan: “Anorexia: Not Too Taboo To Talk About”

Eating disorders are far too common in society; people are afraid, however, to talk about them. The negative stigma surrounding eating disorders often makes someone who is struggling or has struggled with a disorder less likely to talk about their experience. By telling the story of my own battle with anorexia, I hope to dispel the myth that eating disorders are a choice and can simply be solved by just eating more food. Through this presentation my goal is to create awareness, educate and promote positive discussion about eating disorders, their severity, and how to help someone you are concerned about.

Clare O’Grady: “The Importance of Giving Back: A Reflection on an Andean Adventure”

The goal of this presentation is to encourage students to become involved in community service and acts of giving. Clare will begin with a description of her experiences backpacking in the Andes of Peru. She will discuss the natives she encountered along her trek, their culture and demeanor, but, most importantly, their lack of resources. She will discuss the steps she took to provide aid to these people through the distribution of school supplies. During the latter, interactive portion of her presentation she will stress the importance of thinking outside oneself to help those in need and will describe the process required to get involved. Students will then brainstorm a list of opportunities both in their immediate surroundings and on a larger scale that will enable them to partake in community service.

Social Studies

Sarah Dreyer-Oren: “Applied Behavior Analysis”

What is Applied Behavior Analysis? How did behaviorism come about, and how does the field fit into the modern conception of psychology?  In this presentation, we will discuss the essential components of Applied Behavior Analysis and how it is used in daily life as well as in a variety of professional fields.  Sarah spent a semester teaching at an Applied Behavior Analysis-based school for children with autism, and will draw examples from her experiences there. In addition, students will be challenged to think of how behaviorism is involved in their everyday interactions and how they can use Applied Behavior Analysis to enhance their own lives.

Nicholas Kaleikini: “Decisions”

We are constantly making decisions in life that reflect our beliefs. It is important, however, to know why we believe in certain things. According to American philosopher W.V. Quine, we are shaped by our web of beliefs. Many of these beliefs, however, can be shaped institutionally, socially, from our parents, media and its likes. We essentially let others make decisions for us or believe things that at face-value. This presentation is meant to promote self-examination, which in turn instills a sense of self-empowerment and the ability to make our own decisions for our own reasons.

Mariela Meza: “Video Games as Reflections of Culture”

Have you ever played video games like the Halo series or Grand Theft Auto? How much do you know about these games? Have you ever thought of video games as more than just entertainment? In this presentation we will look at video games as part of a desensitizing force that we believe to have control over. In the presentation we talk about the aspects of a culture that are directly targeted by characteristics of video games. When we approach these games we come to a realization that some video games are not just to pass the time, but they also reflect and reinforce social traits that American culture praises.

U.S. Current Affairs

Patrick Landers: “Modern Campaign Advertising”

In 2012 campaigns and outside groups will spend billions of dollars on advertising in an attempt to shape the opinions of Americans and the outcomes of elections. In his presentation Patrick breaks down the elements of political advertisements and the thinking behind them using historically prominent television campaign ads and more recent examples as case studies. Although television consumes the greatest number of campaign resources, other traditional mediums like print and recent expansions across the Internet, social media, and cell phones are also covered. Finally, the presentation provides students with the findings from academic literature about the field as well as resources for fact checking claims made in campaign ads. The goal of this presentation is to make students savvy consumers of modern campaign advertising, enabling them to engage this aspect of our electoral system intelligently and constructively.

Ephraim McDowell: “Agents of Justice: Exploring the Functions and Powers of American Prosecutors”

America's criminal justice system incarcerates a higher percentage of its own people than any other Western democracy. Prosecutors are the primary agents of justice within this system of mass incarceration. No one in the United States can be branded a criminal or lose his or her freedom unless a prosecutor determines that to be a just consequence. Based on my experience as an intern at a District Attorney's Office, as well as my research on prosecutors for my senior sociology thesis, I problematize America's criminal justice system and prosecutors' roles within it. Drawing on firsthand observation, I explain how prosecutors often fail to critically examine the criminal justice system as a whole and how they can neglect the individual needs of criminal defendants. After stressing potential flaws within America's seemingly monolithic criminal justice system, I urge those in my audience to question the mainstay social institutions surrounding them and to work to change them if they prove problematic. We all must be active subjects within the social body; we cannot simply accept the status quo at "face value.”

Sarah Mehrotra: “Brown v. Board of Education: How Far Have We Come?”

This presentation begins by focusing on the Brown v. Board of Education case, one of the most important pieces of legislature in U.S. history. It then examines schools in America today and how far they have come since the monumental case in 1954. Sarah’s presentation seeks to critically examine the challenges facing racial inequality in public schools today. It draws on current day issues such as the college admissions process and No Child Left Behind. It also incorporates Sarah's personal experiences working in a school, and examines inequalities that still exist. The goal of the presentation is to give high school students more insight about current problems with the public school system, and how they can work to better it for the future.