Geography, Political Science, and International Relations Majors Recount Intern Experiences

Internships can be a rewarding means of linking classroom studies to real-world experiences in the local political arena.   Ari Kaputkin, a Geography Major, recalls his formative summer internship:

Ari Kaputkin

“As a Community Development intern with the DUMBO Improvement District, I was able to participate in just about every facet of the Business Improvement District’s workings, making for a very diverse summer of experience and learning. From the start, I was working with graphic designers and computer programmers on producing a map as part of an initiative to develop Brooklyn’s Tech Triangle into the next Silicon Valley. Through attending meetings, data collection and working with many different organizations, this project gave me immediate insight into the vast collaborative effort it takes to produce studies of this scale, and move forward on projects in a place like New York City.

“ I was also given the reins to propose and site new bike racks for the DUMBO neighborhood, working directly with the Department of Transportation and local business and property owners. The experience of working with the DOT and observing intra-governmental procedures will be an invaluable experience as I move forward to study Urban Planning.

“ In the same vein, I was able to attend planning meetings with government officials, architects, engineers, artists and designers on various development projects, including restoring the neighborhood’s streets to their original cobblestone surfacing, commissioning mural artists, and creating new parks and plazas. I was often in contact with local businesses on these projects, and gained the often overlooked perspective on how these types of projects may affect and are perceived by local business and property owners. “

Political Science and International Relations majors also made notable contributions to distinct communities through summer internships. “Faculty members in the Department of Political Science and International Relations encourage students to seek out internships as a means of linking theory with practice as well as preparing to work effectively with the philosophies, institutions, processes, and behavioral aspects of politics in government, public affairs, and the law,” said Jeff Miller, Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations.

Miller noted that many Political Science and International Relations majors who advance to government positions at the local, state and federal levels began their careers as interns.

The following students, all members of the Class of 2014, share some of their experiences as summer interns.

Ariana Cember

Ari intern

“This summer I had the opportunity to intern with Representative Nita Lowey, who has been fighting for women’s rights in the House of Representatives for more than twenty years. As a Political Science major with a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor, this internship effectively combined two of my main passions. It was very rewarding to work in local politics. I encourage all students to apply for internships to establish the networking sills and connections necessary in the today’s unsteady job market.”

Will Raphaelson

Will intern“This summer I worked under the mentorship of New Paltz Village Board Trustee Ariana Basco. My experience was diverse and engaging. I attended board and committee meetings, researched local political issues, and participated in community outreach initiatives. This experience provided me the opportunity to experience the intricacies of local government, and also served to hone my understanding of quality research methods when I was tasked with the specific job of researching municipal mergers.”

Tom Savidge

Tom intern“I interned at the Village Hall of the Incorporated Village of Massapequa Park (my hometown). I got the position by cold calling the village asking if they needed any interns. I organized road plans, maps, building plans, and blueprints dating as far back as the early 1940s and created an Excel database in order to keep track of record location. This summer allowed me to see government directly interacting with people.”

Professor Tom Festa Honored for Anthology on Early Modern Women

 ENG Festa book award1
The Society for the Study of Early Modern Women (SSEMW) has honored Professor Thomas Festa and his co-translator/editor, Michelle Dowd (University of North Carolina, Greensboro), with the 2012 award for best teaching edition for their book, Early Modern Women on the Fall:  An Anthology.  Festa is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in English.

ENG Festa book award2 Early Modern Women on the Fall: An Anthology presents the works of eighteen early modern Englishwomen addressing the story of the Fall of humankind in the Bible.  These texts, many of which are now available in a modern edition for the first time, include poems, prophecies, romances, medical treatises, handbooks on wet-nursing and on women’s education, and proto-feminist political tracts.  

“For the women who wrote these texts, the myth of Adam and Eve and the Fall from the Book of Genesis proved inescapable, as it was the most formative story of their culture,” noted Festa. “Thus, commentary on the story of the Fall became the medium in, through, or against which women argued for greater rights in English society in the period.”

Festa first conceived the anthology in 2003, while a graduate student applying for jobs in academia. “One application requested that I submit sample syllabi, and I wanted to appeal to the hiring committee by reflecting new, diverse methods for approaching my field.  I came up with a syllabus and then went looking for an anthology to assign and discovered that it didn’t exist,” he said.

Festa reached out to his friend and fellow Ph.D. student, Dowd, for her expertise in women’s writing. Festa and Dowd circulated the anthropology proposal for five years before the acquisitions editors at the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), housed at Arizona State University, asked to see the entire manuscript.  The ACMRS board of editors accepted the book in the fall of 2009, and it appeared in 2012.  

Since its publication, Festa has used the anthology in his courses on Seventeenth-Century Literature and on John Milton. “Students in my graduate seminars read a selection from the book before it appeared in print, and their responses to the material helped me to think about how we could adjust the annotation and commentary to make the texts more accessible to both undergraduate and graduate students,” noted Festa.

Festa is honored to receive the book award from the SSEMW, a network of scholars who study women and their contributions to the cultural, political, economic or social spheres of the early modern period. 

 “It feels thrilling to be awarded Best Teaching Edition by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women some ten years after the idea first popped into my head,” said Festa. “I am particularly pleased that a learned society has recognized our anthology’s contribution to teaching, since that was always our aim in producing the edition–to help students gain access to a diversity of stories that have mostly been lost to history.”

Dowd will accept the award at the SSEMW’s Sixteenth Century Studies Conference at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan Puerto Rico on October 26.


Latin American and Caribbean Studies Fall Reception

Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program Hosts Fall Reception

Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) Program faculty, students and prospective majors gathered in the Student Union auditorium on Oct. 9 for a fall reception highlighting the program’s diverse offerings.

The reception began with a lively demonstration by capoeira artist Gustavo Caldas of the Arts of Brazil.  Capoeira is an African-Brazilian martial art that combines fighting, dance, rhythm and movement.  Caldas’ family has practiced capoeira for generations.

Roberto Velez-Velez, an assistant professor of Sociology and member of the inter-disciplinary LACS faculty, gave an overview of the major and minor. He noted that the LACS program’s inter-disciplinary approach gives students a “broad understanding of the people, cultures, politics and history,” of the region, which consists of thirty-three countries and has a population of 560 million people speaking Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and various creole languages.

The major requires thirty credits, including a senior capstone project or internship, as well as proficiency in Spanish, French or Portuguese.  Course offerings available in spring 2014 include classes in Black Studies, Economics, History, Spanish and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

The interdisciplinary approach appealed to sophomore Michael Grossman, who shared his experiences as an international relations/LACS double major.  Grossman noted the “strong overlap” between LACS and International Relations courses, and said he was encouraged by his academic advisor to pursue the dual degree.

 “I’ve always had an interest in Latin America – the history, culture, food, the music,” said Grossman, who is currently enrolled in two LACS courses. “I am absolutely loving this department.”

Dean of International Programs Bruce Sillner shared the many study abroad opportunities in Ecuador, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, the Caribbean and Jamaica. Students can study abroad for a semester, summer or academic year, and courses are available in the language of the host country as well as in English.  “Language proficiency should not be a barrier,” said Sillner, who noted that the cost of studying abroad is comparable to tuition at New Paltz, which offers a variety of scholarship opportunities.

Sillner recognized nineteen Brazilian students in attendance who are studying at New Paltz as part of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program.  The program promotes education in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The students will study at New Paltz for eighteen months to two years before returning to Brazil with majors in Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Physics, Mathematics and Graphic Design.

The reception concluded with an awards presentation honoring Dr. Linda Greenow, who co-founded the LACS program with colleague Elisa Davila in 1994. Greenow’s Geology colleague, Jo Mano, presented the award, calling Greenow “a totally awesome teacher.”