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2015 Fellows

From left to right: Maritza Navarette, Meagan McKinstry, Jay Ruckelshaus, and Winta Yohannes

Winta Yohannes, born in Eritrea, is a rising senior at Reed College pursuing a B.A. in Psychology. She started her undergraduate career at Lake Forest College before transferring to Reed in 2013. The summer of her freshman year, she was selected as a Richter Scholar and conducted research on how homeless, abused women found stable housing in Chicago. She continued this research and co-authored a manuscript, “The Role of a Home: The Child-Centered Concerns of Homeless Abused Mothers,” which has been submitted for publication. Since then, her academic interests have expanded to include immigration policy, minority rights, and the intersection of psychology and the law. She was able to explore of all of these interests through a prestigious President’s Summer Fellowship last summer, which allowed her to travel to Uganda, Italy, and Switzerland to interview Eritrean refugees about their journey to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, Winta introduced a social justice-themed dorm to Reed, helped first-generation, minority, and non-traditional students navigate college as a coordinator of the Peer Mentor Program, and served as a tutor in the Writing Center at Lake Forest. Now, she is learning about alternative detention programs through an internship at Youth, Rights, and Justice, a nonprofit law firm, while writing a thesis about how adolescents perceive risk in the justice system, particularly while making plea bargain decisions. She intends to pursue a JD/Ph.D. in Psychology and is grateful for this opportunity with the American Bar Foundation. She looks forward to working with Research Professor Janice Nadler this summer.

Jay Ruckelshaus, a native of Indianapolis, IN, is a rising senior at Duke University, where he majors in political science and philosophy and minors in English and history as an Angier B. Duke Scholar. He is particularly interested in minority rights, criminal justice reform, voting rights, disability theory/law, and the role political theory can play in direct matters of public policy. He has worked as a research assistant on democratic accountability for Duke Professor Herbert Kitschelt and as a Research Fellow for the Indiana Governor's office. Jay is heavily involved on campus at Duke, serving as an undergraduate representative to the Board of Trustees, a Student Government Senator, and student representative to the faculty curriculum committee. He is also Co-Editor-in-Chief of the humanities academic journal and Senior Editor of the political science academic journal. A Truman Scholar and elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, Jay won the Faculty Scholars Award, considered the highest academic prize bestowed by Duke's faculty. Jay is a passionate advocate for disability rights, founding and serving as president of Ramp Less Traveled, a national disability and education nonprofit. He also planned the inaugural Beyond Disability, Beyond Compliance Retreat (a national conference designed to promote student interests to the center of college accessibility conversations), serves as Director of Outreach of the Accessibility Matters disability awareness campaign, and has been invited to give keynote presentations at numerous regional and national conferences. He hopes to pursue a JD/PhD in either political science or political theory, and is extremely excited to be working with Research Professor Christopher Schmidt!

Maritza Navarrete, a native of Evanston, IL, is a rising senior at Vanderbilt University. She is double majoring in Economics and Mathematics with a minor in Islamic Studies. Maritza is particularly interested in international law, development economics, and immigration and refugee rights. In the fall of 2014, Maritza studied abroad in Amman, Jordan. A great portion of her semester in Amman was dedicated to an independent study project examining the financial and Sharia-compliance regulations of Islamic banks in Jordan. Maritza was an intern at the City Manager’s Office in the City of Evanston, where she collaborated with community leaders to plan events and provide services to increase outreach to the Latino community, including citizenship workshops, computer classes in Spanish, educational activities for Spanish-speaking elementary school students, and cultural events. In Nashville, Maritza is involved in the Latino and immigrant communities through AMIGOS, an organization dedicated to connecting Vanderbilt students to service opportunities including medical translating, teaching ESL classes, tutoring, and translating for non-profit organizations serving immigrant communities. In addition, Maritza enjoys volunteering with her service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. As a part of the Alpha Phi Omega service team, she has collaborated with the Nashville Rescue Mission, Second Harvest Soup Kitchen, and American Red Cross Blood drive to sponsor fundraising events across campus and in the Nashville area. In the future, Maritza plans to pursue a graduate degree in Economics and hopes to be able to research the interplay of economics and public policy. Maritza is looking forward to the opportunity to work alongside Research Professor John Hagan.

Meagan McKinstry, a native of St. Louis, MO, is a rising senior at Grinnell College, where she is majoring in sociology. Her primary fields of interests include social inequality, as well as gender and sexuality studies. Last summer, she had the opportunity to intern at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City, where she helped conduct research on government misconduct, racial justice, and international human rights. The summer before that, she worked as an Assistant Team Advisor for the National Student Leadership Conference on Law and Advocacy, a summer program for high school students interested in pursuing law as a career. Both of these positions helped to invigorate her longstanding interest in law. At Grinnell, Meagan has involved herself with LGBTQIA advocacy whenever possible, and during her sophomore year, she directed Grinnell's newly-formed Queer Mentor Program, which enables students to speak confidentially with a mentor about issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. She also has served on the Queer Leadership Council, which plans and organizes events intended to increase campus awareness of LGBTQIA issues. Aside from queer advocacy, Meagan is a member of the varsity swim team and club water polo team and sings with an acapella group called Noteworthy. Additionally, she is one of the leaders of a Christian student group called Grinnellians Seeking Christ. Meagan is considering a number of post-graduate options, including the pursuit of a degree in law, social work, or divinity. Meagan is absolutely thrilled to be working with Professor Tom Ginsburg this summer. 

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