Ten Sage Students earn prestigious NYS Excelsior Fellowships and positions in state government

June 27, 2013 at 10:38 am

Excelsior Fellows 2013

New York State Excelsior Service Fellows 2013 

The New York State Excelsior Service Fellowship Program is designed to attract talented graduates from colleges, universities and professional schools across New York who are called to career in public service. Fellows work full-time in the executive branch of the New York State government and play a policy-influencing role working on the most pressing policy issues of our time.

The Sage Colleges is extremely proud to have provided 10 of our "best and brightest" to this important program. Students went through an intense selection process involving faculty and administrator nominations, an application in which the students had to articulate their interest and qualifications via a statement of purpose, and an interview during which a committee assessed their interest, qualifications, drive, and potential for success via a variety of traditional, behavioral, and scenario-based questions.

Congratulations and good luck to the Sage graduates among the 2013 New York State Excelsior fellows: Sierra Begin, Sara-Melissa Conklin, Michelle Hutchins, Giovanna Joseph, Heather Lacis, Matt Ramnes, Jenna Sarvis, Shannon Teal and Brian Thomas (not pictured).


  

BeginSierra Begin
Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Troy, New York

Why Sage?
I chose Sage for its small classes, the availability of my major and for its generous funding.

High points of Sage Experience
While at Sage, I volunteered with the YWCA and completed an internship with the Ambient Air Monitoring Division of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

I also gained amazing friends, sisters, and had very influential professors.

Going Forward!
I am looking forward to the fellowship as a fun and exciting new experience in which to learn and grow.

 

ConklinSara-Melissa Conklin
Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Bethlehem, New York

Why Sage?
I chose Sage for many reasons. I liked the size and the fact that it was an all women’s college. I immediately felt at home on the campus, even though I was a commuter. I also felt the Environmental Studies program was an opportunity I would not get at any other school, and I was right. I was given a fantastic financial-aid package, which allowed me to graduate with minimal debt. 

High Points of Sage Experience
I had a summer-long internship at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Office of Climate Change, which was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned a tremendous amount about the environmental policy. I was lucky enough to be given an incredible amount of responsibility and opportunities to attend meetings and conferences. I also drafted the first edit of a tool that helps coastal communities in New York State measure their resilience against climate change.

I also had a work study at the Sage Office of Admission giving tours to potential students. It was a great way to get to know the campus and staff. It was a great experience to meet future students and tell them about everything Russell Sage has to offer.

Going Forward! 
During the fellowship, I hope to have the opportunity to learn from respected leaders in New York State. I plan on working as hard as I have at Sage to represent not only my education but the school as a whole. I hope that by the end of the fellowship I will have the skills and abilities to be a leader for the next generation.

 

hutchinsMichelle Hutchins
Major: Sociology and Women's Studies
Hometown: Copenhagen, New York

Why Sage?
I transferred to Russell Sage at the beginning of my sophomore year from St. Lawrence University. I grew up in a small town in northern New York and was looking for somewhere that would provide the opportunities I felt would help me create social change. Troy, being a part of the Capital Region, was the perfect place to find those opportunities. I found more political activism and engagement in Troy than I had ever witnessed in the area where I grew up. Furthermore, as a feminist, I was looking for an institution that believes wholeheartedly in women’s equality and values them as human beings. Russell Sage fulfilled all of the qualities I was searching for in my education and allowed me to create my own double major of Sociology and Women’s Studies that incorporated itself around my other interest, the law.

High Points of Sage Experience
While at Russell Sage, I was a peer educator, resident assistant, and a member of the newly found group VERGE (Voices Educating for Reproductive and Gender Equality). I also interned at the Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program of Rensselaer County during the Fall 2011 semester and continued to volunteer on the sexual assault hotline for the remainder of the time I was on campus. I spent my Fall 2012 semester in Washington, D.C., interning at the Feminist Majority Foundation as well as the sister agencies that are integrated in the organization including the Feminist Majority, Feminists for Obama, Ms. Magazine, and Girls Learn International. 

Going Forward!
The New York State Excelsior Public Service Fellowship will be unique in comparison to my previous experiences due to the shift from special-interest advocacy to government representation. I hope to be challenged in ways that previous internships in the local and national nonprofit sector did not address. I expect to better understand the New York State executive-branch functions and learn about state politics, a refreshing change from my current focus in national politics.

 

josephGiovanna Joseph
Major: Political Science
Hometown: The Bronx, New York

Why Sage?
I chose Russell Sage College because I felt it would provide me with a different environment and nurturing academic community. Russell Sage College being an all women’s college further drew me in: I was elated to be surrounded by women who wanted to be agents of change, to empower and learn from one another. Sage exceeded my expectations. 

High Points of Sage Experience
While at Sage I participated in S.A.L.A.N.A., an organization that celebrates different backgrounds, ethnicities and races by providing multicultural educational programs to the campus community. I also participated in V.I.B.E and Sage Gems: V.I.B.E focuses on building self-assurance and respect, and Sage Gems focuses on building women’s pride, respect and development at Sage.

I interned with Professor Eileen Brownell as her T.A in Contemporary Business and also research assistant. Following that internship I studied in Costa Rica, where I took classes in human rights, tropical medicine and international relations. Although I have been speaking Spanish my whole life, I also took classes in Spanish to better my speech and writing ability in hopes of one day becoming an immigration attorney or public advocate for native Spanish speakers.

Going Forward!
I expect the fellowship to provide me with hands-on experience in New York State government and an opportunity to learn from my peers and from those actively involved in policy making.

 

lacisHeather Lacis
Major: Arts & Society
Hometown: Duluth, Georgia

Why Sage? 
I originally looked at Sage because it was one of the few colleges on the East Coast that offered a Creative Arts in Therapy degree. When I had my son I had to adjust my plans and degree program but chose to stay at Sage because of the incredible commitment to student success and the faculty and staff who supported me when unexpected life events forced me to reexamine my goals. 

High Points of Sage Experience
I volunteered with The AIDS Council at the Dining Out for Life event as an ambassador and, along with other volunteers, raised $120,000 to help those living with AIDS in the Capital Region. In World 420 I engaged in service learning at Bethany House in Troy, spending time with and getting to know the needs and desires of the some of the homeless population.

Going Forward!
I am looking forward to expanding my horizons and applying the skills I’ve acquired in my years at Sage to this new and exciting opportunity. Many of my family members work in the public service sector and I’m excited to continue the tradition of serving others.

  

RamnesMatt Ramnes
Major: Master of Arts in Teaching Social Studies
Hometown: Mechanicville, New York

Why Sage?
I knew several of the faculty members involved with the MAT program and that created a comfort level I could not overlook. 

High Points of Sage Experience
Student Teaching at Guilderland High School (10th Grade, Global History)  Student Teaching at Doyle Middle School (7th Grade, American History)  Student Teaching at Mechanicville High School (9th Grade Global History).

The History faculty for the MAT program was exceptional. Dr. Schechter, Dr. Leibo, and Dr. Scotnes created an excellent environment for discussion and learning.  I cannot say enough about these faculty members and how proud I am to have been able to study under them. 

Going Forward!
I hope to take full advantage of an amazing opportunity to represent the New York State executive branch.  We do not know a great deal about what our experience is going to be like because this is the first year of the Excelsior Public Service Fellowship.  My goal is to learn as much as possible from the people I will be working with while also having fun and working hard doing it.

 

rileyMackenzie Riley
Major: Environmental Science
Hometown: Albany, New York

Why Sage?
I entered Sage as a transfer student after only one semester at a different college. Even though I wanted to go back away for school, Sage had everything I wanted. Sage had the biology program I was interested in continuing, Sage had a women's tennis team that I wanted to be a part of, and Sage was affordable for me. The small class size, which allows for good communication between faculty and students, was a huge added bonus that made a difference with my experience at Sage.

High Points of Sage Experience
I played tennis, as captain, for three seasons on the girls' team and one season on the boys' team while at Sage. I was a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and of the TriBeta society. I received the Phi Kappa Phi award as a sophomore, and the Scholar Athlete of the Year Award in 2010-2011 for the Skyline Conference. I have been on the Dean's List for multiple semesters and received High Honors for a few of those semesters. I presented at the TriBeta Regional Conference at Dominican College for the independent  research I did. Through SAAC, I have volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House and the Special Olympics. I also participated in an Elementary School reading program through SAAC, studied abroad in Australia in Spring 2012, and was the student speaker at the SCA Baccalaureate Ceremony.

I found that everyone at Sage was always willing to go the extra mile to help you with what you needed. I greatly enjoyed my years at Sage and would recommend it to anyone. 

Going Forward!
I really hope to gain knowledge of politics and how the New York State Government system works. I hope to get the chance to meet many new individuals and to gain further knowledge of policy making so I can eventually give back to the community by serving in government.

  

sarvisJenna Sarvis
Major: Law & Society
Hometown: Newburgh, New York

Why Sage?
I chose Sage because I liked the feel of a small campus. I wanted to learn in a forum where I was going to be able to interact with professor’s one on one.  

High Points of Sage Experience
Internships at Saratoga Town Court, Spring 2012 and Capital Region BOCES, Summer 2012-present.

I very much enjoyed my time at Sage. The professors I had were always very encouraging and engaged me in my studies in a way that I never had before. I felt empowered and proud of myself for all of my accomplishments. 

Going Forward!
I am most looking forward to the educational portion of the fellowship program. This part of the program will help me develop better public-speaking and debating skills. I am also looking forward to working with officials who have an influential impact on public policy.

 

tealShannon Teal
Major: Master's in Business Administration
Hometown: New Lebanon, New York

Why Sage?
Low student-to-teacher ratio, networking opportunities, financial aid, family alma mater (mother & aunt).

High Points of Sage Experience
Sage Alumni Board (Graduate School Student Representative) & Alumni Finance Committee; General Electric Internship; School of Management graduate assistant (Teaching Assistant & Research Assistant)

Going Forward!
I hope to learn as much as I can about the public sector, to develop and hone my own skills and to further develop my management and leadership skills.   

 

Brian M. Thomas
Major: Master of Arts in Teaching Social Studies
Hometown: Burnt Hills, New York

Why Sage?
Sage is well respected in the education community, and my sister, Cindy Elsbree, is a graduate of Russell Sage (1999).  

High Points of Sage Experience
Two student teaching placements: Guilderland High School and Doyle Middle School. Two Graduate Assistantships: Help Yourself Academy and the Sage Climate Crisis Center.

Going Forward!
To serve the people of New York through public service and to gain valuable experience in public policy and state government.