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Meet Some of Our Outstanding 2017 Graduates

 |  Nash Dunn  | College of Humanities and Social Sciences News

Our army of nearly 38,600 alumni will grow even larger this spring, as nearly 1,000 Humanities and Social Sciences undergraduate and graduate students earn NC State diplomas for their hard work.

Meet a few of our outstanding graduates and see what’s next for them after commencement. 

Grace Callahan.

Grace Callahan

Major: International Studies 
 
Scholarships and Awards: Triangle Institute for Security Studies-Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence (TISS-IC CAE) Intelligence and Security Scholar; Humanities and Social Sciences Merit Scholarship; University Scholar; Honored as one of the Class of 2017’s Valedictorians
 
On campus: Callahan served as a culture ambassador for NC State’s Office of International Services and was a member of the university’s Global Village, a residence hall that pairs international and American students as roommates. She’s also worked as an assistant news editor for the Technician, and conducted undergraduate research on how terrorist organizations use Twitter as a recruitment tool. Callahan published a paper on her study, “Attacking ISIL on Twitter: Addressing the Ethical Responsibility of the Weaponization of Social Media,” in Intersect, Stanford University’s student-run peer-reviewed journal of science, technology and society.
 
In the community and beyond: During her junior year, Callahan studied abroad in Spain at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She documented her experience in a blog designed to educate elementary school students in North Carolina, a project she took on as a cultural correspondent for Go Global NC (formerly Center for International Understanding). Through her involvement in the TISS-IC CAE security scholar program, she visited the CIA headquarters and national counterterrorism center earlier this year. 
 
What’s next?: “I’m currently applying for jobs in the D.C. area related to transnational security and counterterrorism efforts. I hope to pursue a career in the intelligence community and am particularly interested in examining current efforts to counter ISIL on social media.”
 
Favorite experience at NC State: “Being a part of the University Scholars Program, connecting academic goals with personal goals through an exposure to a wide variety of visual and performing arts performances.”


Shannon Dwyer.

Shannon Dwyer

Majors: Anthropology and Physics (minor in classical studies)
 
Scholarships and Awards: 2017 recipient, Richard Patty Award for Leadership (from the Department of Physics); 2016 nominee, Equity for Women Award
 
On campus: Dwyer served as president of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Student Council during the 2016-17 year and has been a representative since 2014. She’s held officer positions for the Society of Physics Students (secretary 2014-15, president 2015-16) and the Society for Ancient and Classical Studies (secretary 2014-15, vice president 2015-16) and also served as a representative on the College of Sciences Student Council from 2014-16. As for undergraduate research, Dwyer conducted ethnographic studies of physics research groups in 2016, in addition to computational condensed matter investigations of rare-earth tritellurides.
 
In the community and beyond: Dwyer studied abroad in 2014 through NC State’s ethnographic field school in Guatemala. Through a research position she earned at Duke University in 2015, she worked on a project to design an apparatus for detection of greenhouse gasses at fracking sites, landfills and other environmental hazard sites. Dwyer also attended and presented research at the 2016 Quadrennial Physics Congress (PhysCon) in San Francisco. 
 
What’s next?: “A master’s degree in social anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, then hopefully graduate school for anthropology, either in Europe or North America. I want to continue examining the relationships between physical sciences and human affairs, especially politics, economics and social structure. But as an anthropologist, I want to compare the quantitative and historical evidence of that relationship with the lived experiences of practicing physical scientists and engineers. I will take the opportunity of being in London — a global cultural and political capital — to push myself beyond the boundaries of academia, using ethnographic methods, critical analysis and basic human compassion to explore the relationship between inequalities, knowledge and public policy.”
 
Favorite experience at NC State: “Recently, a fellow undergraduate and Guatemala field school alumna, Lauren Frey, organized an Environmental Justice Symposium. While this experience on its own was fantastic, what made it my favorite NC State experience was that I was witnessing and participating in Lauren’s manifested vision for educating and including students in that discussion. Moreover, I employed my academic background from relevant courses like physical oceanography, medical anthropology, social movements, and hunter-gatherers to enhance my understanding and contributions to the event. So, my entire education converged in a way that enriched the event for me, while helping contribute to the goals of others in my community. Students and faculty at NC State have given me the foundation for accepting those opportunities to engage new physical experiences and intellectual frameworks, and then to communicate it to others.” 
 

Karen Eisenhauer, left, discusses NC State’s Language and Life Project while handing out “I Speak N.C.” buttons at the 2016 Packapalooza festival on Hillsborough Street.

Karen Eisenhauer 

Graduate Program: English (linguistics)
 
Scholarships and Awards: First place, humanities poster, 2017 NC State Graduate Student Research Symposium; Nominee, 2016-17 Graduate Student Association Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

Involvement/accomplishments on campus: Working closely with NC State’s Language and Life Project, Eisenhauer helped the group expand its reach by redesigning the group’s website and creating and managing new channels on social media. She also worked as a graduate teaching assistant and volunteered as a language diversity ambassador. 
 
As for her scholarship, Eisenhauer continued her innovative research under Pitzer College professor Carmen Fought on how language in Disney Princess films depict and represent gender roles. Learn more about her research, which has been featured in the Washington Post and National Geographic. Eisenhauer also recently presented a paper with NC State linguist Walt Wolfram about YouTube linguistics. 
 
Involvement/accomplishments in the community: Earlier this spring, Eisenhauer joined a group of NC State sociolinguists in teaching a “Voices of North Carolina” curriculum to students at Ocracoke School on the Outer Banks.  

What’s next?: “I am moving to Chicago. Over the summer, I will be working with the Language and Life Project, continuing to update its new website to include accessible information about our past research. I will also be continuing my work with Dr. Fought — we may even be looking for a book deal! If a book isn’t in the works, I’ll be looking for full-time employment in the fall, hopefully in a field that employs my social science background.”
 
Favorite Experience at NC State: “It’s a toss-up. Presenting at the Linguistic Society of America is one — it was a huge milestone for me. Walt [Wolfram] introduced me to many of my academic role models. I’ve never been so excited about my field as when I got to see that many brilliant scholars in one place, talking to one another about their mutual passion. It was also my first conference presentation and that moment (for better or for worse) is probably burned in my brain forever! On the other hand, when I think of this program, I mostly think of Walt taking the entire linguistics cohort out to Mitch’s after a Friday afternoon talk (as he is known to do). The time that’s created for us students to spend time with each other and with our professors is what sets NC State apart from other programs in my mind. The supportive community of scholars, all of whom I’ve come to love and respect, is what has defined these last two years for me.” 
 

Senior political science major Sydney Grice, right, works alongside two peers in a trench during an excavation in Petra, Jordan, in 2016. Grice participated in the dig through NC State’s archaeological field school.

Sydney Grice

Major: Political science (minors in history and journalism)

Scholarships and awards: Park Scholarship; Susan E. Carter Global Endowment Scholarship; General Henry Hugh Shelton Leadership Award

On campus: Grice has made the most of her time on campus. Outside her coursework, she’s served as the executive director for Feed the Pack, the food pantry of NC State. She’s worked as an aide to the chancellor, an intern for the Department of Political Science and University Housing and held multiple roles in NC State Student Government. Grice also participated in undergraduate research in 2015, studying the nature and history of politics in children’s literature. She’s currently writing her departmental honors thesis on political romantic selectiveness and is a charter member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. 
 
In the community and beyond: Grice has served as a legislative intern at the North Carolina General Assembly. She also founded NC State’s chapter of The Empowerment Project that facilitates workshops for young female students at the Wake County Young Women’s Leadership Academy on body image, media and leadership. She spent the summer after her sophomore year building housing for students in Costa Rica. And in 2016, Grice participated in NC State’s archaeological field school in Petra, Jordan, where she was part of a team of NC State researchers who helped uncover ancient statues of Aphrodite. Learn more about the historic discovery.
 
What’s next?: “I’m moving to Houston to join Teach for America, where I’ll be teaching elementary school at Promise Community School, a charter school that specifically serves immigrant and refugee communities.” 
 
Favorite experience at NC State: “As a Park Scholar, I had the opportunity to visit Washington to learn about STEM education, funding and policy. I was able to speak with legislators, individuals from the National Science Foundation and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. I am so grateful to the Park Scholarships program and NC State campus community for providing exceptional opportunities to lead and grow.” 
 

Student Laila Knio at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Photo courtesy of Laila Knio.

Laila Knio

Major: Psychology (minor in French)

Scholarships and Awards: Park Scholarship; recipient of the Darnell Johnson Outstanding Graduating Senior Award in the Department of Psychology; recipient of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student in French; inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. 

On campus: Knio conducted undergraduate research through NC State’s Forensic Psychology in the Public Interest Lab, which included a study on the relationship between postpartum mental health and breastfeeding behavior. She presented her research at the 23rd annual North Carolina Psychological Foundation undergraduate conference in November 2016 at NC A&T State University in Greensboro. Knio currently serves as the president of the NC State chapter of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the National Health Pre-professional Honor Society. She is currently a teaching assistant for psychology professor Rupert Nacoste’s Race and Interdependence course. Knio also danced competitively on NC State’s ballroom dancing team, Dancing With Wolves, for three years. She served on the team’s leadership board in several capacities, including secretary, treasurer, and vice president. From 2013-14, Knio also served on the Logistics and Public Relations Committees for the Krispy Kreme Challenge.

In the community and beyond: Knio, who was born in Lebanon, traveled back to her birthplace to create a documentary about the Lebanese people. Her film, The Common Link, shares the stories of eight people who are all connected by a common thread: humanity. Knio studied abroad in Lille, France in 2014, and returned in the summer of 2016 to conduct research at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. As an undergraduate researcher at the institute, she investigated the motility of cancer cells by studying the degradation rate of collagen type I by a highly invasive line of breast cancer cells. In the spring of 2016, Knio served as the clinical records intern at the Urban Ministries Open Door Clinic. In the summer of 2015, she was selected to participate in the University of California, Davis Premedical Surgical Internship Program, where she observed 14 different sub-specialties such as plastics, transplant, oncology, and burn. Knio volunteered regularly at the Duke Raleigh Hospital, and participated in an NC State Alternative Spring Break trip to Ecuador with Timmy Global Health. 

A still from Laila Knio’s The Common Link.

What’s next?: “Medical School! I will begin medical school in August and hope to be a physician-writer.”

Favorite experience at NC State: “The opportunity to create a documentary as my capstone project for the University Honors Program. It was incredible to receive so much support from the Honors Program and my capstone mentor, film studies professor Devin Orgeron, as well as professor Bob Patterson, who has been a champion of this project from the very beginning. The experience has been a testament to how strongly NC State values its Think and Do philosophy. I had a passion to create this film, and there were people all along the way who helped make it happen. Sharing the film with a broader audience was an incredibly exciting experience, because the culmination of two and a half years of work could be put up on a screen and finally shared with others.” Learn more about the film.


Darlin Mejia. Photo courtesy of Karen Tharrington.

Darlin Mejia

Major: Foreign Language Education (Spanish) 

Scholarships and Awards: 2017 Outstanding Spanish Student Award from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

On Campus: One of the greatest accomplishments I’ve achieved on campus was being acknowledged by professor Shelley Garrigan, who offered me my first job. She gave me the opportunity to put my skills into practice by helping her kids improve their Spanish proficiency. The job offered me the opportunity to experience the long-lasting effects of teaching.

What’s Next?: “After graduating, I plan to seek a job at a public school that will give me the opportunity to share my knowledge and shape the lives of future generations. I want to use and apply the skills I have learned throughout these years to equip students with additional skills that will help them become more successful in life. In sum, I want a job that allows me to portray the beauty and benefit of learning a second language.”

Favorite Experience at NC State: “Being chosen to receive the 2017 Outstanding Spanish Student Award, especially after collaborating with a number of other bright students in the department.”


Corey Myrick at the NC State Spring Crafts Fair. Photo courtesy of Corey Myrick.

Corey Myrick

Major: Social Work

On campus: Myrick has worked as a designer for NC State’s student newspaper Technician, served as a student leader for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship since sophomore year and held the position of Photography Club Treasurer since junior year. He participated in the NC State Crafts Fair (April 2016 and November 2016) and Student Art Sale (2016 and 2017).
 
In the community and beyond: Myrick has been an active volunteer and worker in the community. At Fred Olds Elementary School in Raleigh, Myrick tutored third grade students on reading and writing skills. He also helped organize a school supply drive for an after school program at Lions Park Community Center in East Raleigh. Myrick has interned with Legal Aid of North Carolina, where he offered case management for at-risk youth and created a “School to Prison Pipeline Prevention Guide” for school social workers. During the summer and other breaks from NC State, Myrick also worked at the Mountain Diabetes and Endocrine Center in Asheville — a job he’s held since his junior year in high school. 

What’s next?: “My plan is to gain experience in the field before going back to get my master’s degree in social work or counseling. I plan on working in Asheville, hopefully with young students in some form or fashion. Right now, I’m interested in art therapy and finding how I can combine my love of photography with my interest in social work to improve the lives of others.” 
 
Favorite experience at NC State:
My favorite experience at N.C. State would have to be one of two things: 
  • Studying abroad in Prague through the design school — getting to experience another culture, making new friends, being able to be a part of a design class and learning more about photography.
  • Participating in an alternative service break through my dorm, North Hall. We went to Charleston, South Carolina, where we visited and met members of the Emanuel AME church, which had been the location of a terrible hate crime months before. It was an eye-opening experience.” 
 

One of Myrick’s photos from Mikulov, Czech Republic, during a study abroad excursion. Photo credit: Corey Myrick.


Austin Olander after receiving his Philosophy Prize from the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

Austin Olander

Major: Philosophy (earned B.S. in Computer Science in 2014)
 
Scholarships and Awards: 2017 Philosophy Prize in Honor of Professor Robert S. Bryan, 2013 Julia Wood Skinner Scholarship Award for outstanding achievement in the study of French.
 
On campus: Working with philosophy professor Gary Comstock, Olander participated in undergraduate research on the moral standing of individuals who are mentally disabled. Specifically, his study concerned how to distinguish between individuals with varying mental capacities, and what those distinctions indicate for their moral standing and ethical treatment compared to fully-capable individuals. Olander wrote a paper describing the work, which he has submitted to multiple journals for publication. “The paper began for the completion of my PHI 494 course, Research and Writing in Ethics, in summer 2016,” Olander says. “At the end of the summer, Dr. Comstock accepted the paper for the completion of 494, but encouraged me to continue working on it because he thought it had some potential. Over the fall semester, I continued working on it, every so often getting feedback from him, until it seemed ready to submit, so I did so.” 

What’s next?: “My current plan is to attend grad school. I’d like to eventually find a career where I can combine my knowledge of philosophy with my love of computers and future technologies. I am particularly concerned about coming advances in artificial intelligence development and its philosophical implications as a potential existential crisis for humanity in the near future. This is a topic that I think deserves more attention than it’s getting.”

Why philosophy?: “Philosophy at NC State has given me the opportunity to make use of my intellectual abilities in a way that no other subject has—by not limiting me to exploring questions of what is, but allowing me to explore what could be. I can’t think of any other field where an active imagination and an ability for analytic thinking can be exercised so well in complement to one another. This program has made that exercise all the more enjoyable, particularly for me, with its staff and students who always keep an open mind, and who so gladly share in that enjoyment.”
 

Grant Rivers.

Grant Rivers

Major: Communication (Interpersonal, Organizational, Rhetorical)

Scholarships and Awards: Member, Department of Communication Honors Program; NC State Track and Field scholarship recipient, W.E.B Dubois Scholar; Atlantic Coast Conference Scholar Athlete; North Carolina Community Foundation Scholarship recipient.

On campus: Rivers worked as a departmental researcher for communication professors Lynsey Romo and Kami Kosenko. In addition to serving as a circulation supervisor at D.H. Hill Library, Rivers worked as a communication and marketing intern for NC State Resources and Event Design Interactive (RED-i).

In the community and beyond: Rivers is a frequent volunteer for the Brooks Avenue Church of Christ and NC State Athletic Department. He previously volunteered for the campus organization, Athletes In Action (AIA).

What’s next?: “I will attend graduate school on full academic aid in the fall. I will assume the role of teaching assistant and researcher for NC State’s Department of Communication. Moreover, I have one more year of athletics (competing as a decathlete) and will be wrapping up a long five-year career.”

Favorite experience at NC State: “Breaking NC State’s indoor school record for the Heptathlon.”


Public history graduate student Hannah Scruggs, fourth from right, with her classmates during a service trip she organized to Pennsylvania.

Hannah Scruggs

Graduate Program: Public History (M.A.) 

On campus: In addition to serving as a teaching assistant, Scruggs organized a graduate student service trip to Braddock, Pennsylvania — just outside of Pittsburgh — in both 2016 and 2017. “I brought students from the public history program and we did preservation and archival work for the Braddock Carnegie Library, where I volunteered with AmeriCorps for two years,” she says. 

In the community and beyond: Scruggs went to Crooked Tree, Belize, in summer 2016 with history professor Alicia McGill and public history doctoral student Lisa Withers. “We worked with community members to create an exhibit focused on life in Crooked Tree in the Visitor’s Center there,” she says. “I mainly worked with 12- and 13-year-old students in two local schools, hearing their stories and chatting with them. I created materials for school-aged children to go along with the exhibit.”

What’s next?: “I will be working at James Madison’s Montpelier as a research associate in African American history. I will be researching slavery at Montpelier and in the surrounding county, as well as connecting with descendants of those enslaved there.” 

Favorite experience at NC State: “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my colleagues and professors in the Department of History. I have had excellent classes and just really enjoyed the people I’ve been able to work with.” 

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