Six Russell Sage College students will present original research or creative work at the 2021 Northeast Regional Honors Council Conference.  

The conference will be held online March 30 through April 11. 

“This is very exciting for us and the students,” said Nathanael Green, Betty Harder McClellan Distinguished Professor in Humanities and co-director of Sage’s Honors program. “Even during a pandemic, we’ve got some exciting scholarship and achievements at Sage.”

The following students will participate in the Honors conference: 

— Childhood Education and English major Samantha Bourgeois of Bennington, Vermont, will present “Promoting Greater LGBTQ Accessibility in Children’s Picture Books.” 

“While there has been a surge of picture books representing gender nonconformity, there still hasn’t been a big spotlight on these books in terms of awards or great accessibility in stores, libraries or schools,” said Bourgeois. “The argument my presentation brings to light is the necessity for greater awareness of and accessibility to these picture books.”

Her paper emerged from a self-directed Honors project she pursued after taking a children’s literature class with Professor of English and Honors program co-director Tonya Moutray, Ph.D. 

Bourgeois is a member of Russell Sage College’s Class of 2021 and will pursue a career in education with the goal of eventually opening her own early childhood education center. 

She described Sage’s Honors program as “a great experience,” with courses that introduced her to topics she may not have otherwise encountered, helped her build deeper critical thinking and discussion skills and to reach others with her work. 

“Russell Sage College really encourages students to share their research and the Honors program holds informational sessions and interest meetings on the NRHC as a way to encourage us to get our research heard outside of just the school community.”

Honors Student Abigayle Greier

Abigayle Greier of Elma, New York, will present “The Lost Stories of Civil War Musicians.” 

Greier used writings from Civil War soldiers, photos, obituaries and other historical records to map the routes of musicians that accompanied military regiments during the American Civil War, and wrote original poetry inspired by their travels. 

“I thought that poetry was an appropriate way for telling these musicians’ stories, putting words into a format they would have used,” she said. 

She began her project in War Stories, an Honors seminar taught by Associate Professor of English and Modern Languages Elizabethe Kelley, Ph.D. 

Greier is a student in Russell Sage College’s accelerated program leading to a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences and a doctorate in Physical Therapy. 

She said that Sage’s Honors program gave her opportunities she didn’t expect to have as a Health Sciences student.

“I was able to take some interesting courses and do research on literature. I took a Broadway course,” she said. “That has been fantastic because it has given me the ability to explore other interests at school.”

Asiyah Moore of Schenectady, New York, will present “Combatting the Cultural Divide.” 

Moore will use a portion of her ongoing research into Black nursing pioneers and Civil Rights leaders to lead a roundtable conversation about Black history and culture. 

She began her project in African American History and Politics, a course with Professor of History Andor Skotnes, Ph.D.

“I felt that a roundtable was my opportunity to enrich what I had learned even more by sharing it and receiving feedback from others,” she said. 

In 2018, she presented “Colonialism and Feminism: The Case of Mary Seacole,” at the National Collegiate Honors Conference.

Moore, who will graduate in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, said these opportunities helped her build professional skills, like public speaking.

“Further, being exposed to other Honors students’ ideas and passions solidified for me the importance of collaboration and exchanging ideas. As an aspiring Nurse Midwife, having the ability to lead but also work cohesively in a team will be imperative to my success.”

Honors student Megan Paluzzi

Megan Paluzzi of Grafton, Massachusetts, will present “Saving Democracy One Screen at a Time.” 

Paluzzi will share ideas for how young people can strengthen democracy and fight for change via digital platforms. 

“This idea exchange will hopefully provide other activists and institutions with programming and resource ideas to help them fight for what they believe in more effectively,” said Paluzzi, who leads Sage’s Democracy Matters chapter.

She began her research after an internship with Democracy Matters. 

Paluzzi is a Creative Arts in Therapy student with a concentration in Theatre and minor in Sociology.

She said that having the Russell Sage College Honors program and Northeast Regional Honors Conference on her resume will help her stand out for future opportunities. 

“Graduate schools and employers want to see your ability to synthesize information and explore new ideas,” she said. “When you do just that and present findings at a regional conference, it further proves how effective your work is and your ability to communicate it.” 

Benjamin Portnoy of Naperville, Illinois, will present “Physical and Neurological Plasticity of Flow State on Productive Individuals and Its Effects On Psyche.” 

Portnoy will lead a roundtable discussion of the conditions that can support a person’s ability to sustain focused attention, or what renowned psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi identified as flow state.

Portnoy began his own investigation into flow state in Psychology Seminar with Psychology Professor Ellen Cole, Ph.D. 

“I was very curious about focused work. Where does it come from, how does it apply to me, how does it apply to everyone else?” he said. “This could be something that could help a lot of people tap into a skill set to achieve what they want to achieve.”

Portnoy is a Psychology major in Russell Sage College’s Class of 2021 who plans to attend the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine to study physical therapy..

“The Honors program has given me the ability to expand myself and my knowledge and what I want to accomplish,” he said, and his understanding of flow state will help him build effective treatment plans as a physical therapist. “This is something I will use to help get my patients where they want to be.”  

Honors student Ashlynn Rumrill

Ashlynn Rumrill of Mount Holly, Vermont, will present “What to do when History has been Stripped Away.” 

Her paper examines how Vermont’s Act 46 — which reorganized school districts across the state — affected Black River High School and the community in Ludlow, Vermont. 

“Throughout the project I explained in specifics what Act 46 was, the history of the town of Ludlow and Black River High School and what it meant to people, and I looked into what happened after the school was officially shut down,” said Rumrill, a member of the school’s last graduating class.

She began her project in Russell Sage College’s First-Year Experience course with Professor of English and Honors program co-director Tonya Moutray, Ph.D.

Rumrill is a Psychology major in Sage’s Class of 2024. 

“The Honors program has enriched my experience at Sage by giving me more opportunities to connect with other students,” she said. “It’s nice to have this community that encourages everyone to work their hardest and be there for each other.”

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