Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center

Levitt Scholars

Spring 2013

Gender Issues and Social Justice
Emily Anderson: “Gendered Political Socialization and the Underrepresentation of Women in U.S. Politics”

The United States continues to lag behind many other countries, including China, Rwanda, and Afghanistan, on measures of female representation in government. The massive underrepresentation of women in elected office has serious policy implications that call into question the responsiveness of the political system; however, there is no complete explanation as to why there are so few women in American government. Gendered political socialization — simply put, the process by which citizens come to understand the political process and their role in it — plays an integral role in shaping attitudes towards women in politics.


Beril Esen: "Domestic Violence against Women in Turkey"

Why is violence against women such a widespread systematic issue that needs to be addressed in Turkey as opposed to others? Drawing upon the literature research I conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, I incorporate the information I gathered from my interviews with famous academicians, lawyers, and founders of non-governmental organizations to explore the serious topic of violence against women. In this presentation, I will describe the different types of domestic violence, introduce the main factors affecting the formation of violence against women, and offer solutions and actions needed to be taken in order to eliminate the prevalence of its occurrence. The goal of this presentation is to raise social awareness on a major violation of human rights and encourage active efforts to reduce the prevalence of violence against women.


College Insights and Personal Development
Rachel Sobel: “Interests and Opportunity: How Taking A Risk Can Lead to A World of Possibilities”

A motivational, informative and interactive presentation. Students will participate in a discussion of their interests and discover how they can lead to a world of opportunities and insights. Personal experiences will be shared showing that by taking small risks, and trying new things, interests can lead to real-life applications after high school. Topics that will or may be included (depending on class preference and by request) are as follows: current biochemical research, participation in varsity and college sports, making personal connections, study-abroad opportunities, college scholarships and aid, alternative education programs, the benefits of a liberal arts education, volunteer work, and choice of college major. The main focus will be on inspiring students to think about how to better connect with the world and people around them by pursuing their interests.


Ellen Doernberg: “Commitment to Experience – Shaping our Futures through Risk Taking”

In short, my presentation is intended for older high school students that are going on to big life changes in the next few years of their lives. My presentation aims to encourage students to embrace the unknown, and understand that taking action in the presence of opportunity allows them to gain valuable experiences. I talk about the "risk continuum," and how our threshold of risk grows and evolves along with our situations. I discuss the importance of imagination, and the many different directions the future might take these students, contrary to the stereotypical futures they might have expected for themselves. Moreover, my presentation concerns how to approach expecting the unexpected, drawing on my own personal experiences leaving high school, doing research for my psychology major, and studying abroad for a full year in France.


Eleanor Fausold: “Beyond High School: Turning Your Goals from Dreams into Reality”

Thinking about what comes next after high school can be both an exciting and intimidating time for students.  In her presentation, Ellie tells the story of how she went from her high school classroom to spending a semester living and working in Washington, DC, using her experience as a model for how students can work to achieve their goals.  She then talks about the benefits of going beyond one’s comfort zone and incorporates a planning exercise to help students map out how to achieve their own personal goals, whether they are immediate or long-term.


Informed and Empowered Citizenry
Liz DaBramo: “The Secret Danger of Everyday Objects: Bisphenol A”

Are you aware of the secret dangers of everyday objects? Bisphenol A (BPA) is just one example of a dangerous chemical that we come into contact with every day.  In my presentation, I will discuss the significant negative effects of BPA, the extent of its presence in our daily life, and what we, as students, can do about this problem.  I will also share some of my experiences of researching BPA in beer.  This presentation is geared towards high school chemistry students to encourage them to get involved and be aware of the chemistry that is not just on the chalkboard.


Jose Vazquez: “The Captive Audience: How advertisements shape our lives and learning”

This presentation will delve into the purpose of advertising and the creation of a "brand" in today's society. The study will involve a student's perspective on brand loyalty and how corporations are attempting to influence learning spaces. To become independent thinkers in the digital age, students must learn to scrutinize all types of ads and learn what it means to be a "captive" audience.


Richard “Mac” Blessen: "Civic Engagement: Making Life Better for Other People and Ourselves"

Civic engagement is about working for the common good, improving conditions for individuals and communities. Many people equate civic engagement with self-sacrifice, assuming that working for the common good involves tireless, thankless altruism. The purpose of this presentation is to persuade students that there are a myriad of relatively painless ways to become civically engaged. From voting regularly to simply participating in clubs and organizations, there are countless ways that people can foster trust and cooperation with one another. By taking the perspective that even the smallest, seemingly insignificant acts can build on each other and lead to profound consequences, this presentation encourages students to consider the aggregate effects of small changes in individual behavior.


Psychology, Language, and Taking Action
Ramya Ramnath: “Language in the Brain”

This presentation outlines, in simple terms, the changes that occur in the brain when one learns a second language. In addition, I will elaborate on the various cognitive skills that are developed in the process of learning a new language. In this presentation, I hope to encourage students to learn a new language, and specifically learn the grammar of new languages, because this process improves a variety of skill sets that are not related to speaking a language. I will also highlight the social and cultural advantages to learning a language. While most of the content of this presentation is brain-based, I will be breaking this information down into simpler terms so that it is easily understandable by students with no prior knowledge in this field.


Virginia Savage: “The Ripple Effect: Inspiring Empowerment in Students Against Intolerance”

What makes us normal? How do we develop these ideas of what "normal" really means? When someone doesn't fit our ideal of normal, how do we respond? This presentation dissects the ways in which social constructions of identity contribute to the bullying epidemic within our school system today. As an age group exceptionally vulnerable to the pain caused by systemic harassment, high school students have the ability to work against this problem to create and sustain respectful and safe environments for themselves and their peers. This presentation explores the predominantly negative ways in which we respond to those who "do not belong" and the harmful, widespread consequences of such responses. The ultimate aim of this discussion is to engage students in dialogue that recognizes student agency as members of the greater educational community to resist intolerance in any form.