About Laura Zinzow

“This year has been a change for me,” said Laura Zinzow, a Sociology major at Russell Sage College. “I’m trying to bust out of my shell.”

Her efforts have been rewarded with some exciting opportunities. 

She just received two fellowships, which enabled her to attend a professional conference related to her Honors research, and she’s gaining more professional experience at an internship. 

Laura’s capstone research project will explore incarcerated women, their mental health and their reentry into the community, with a focus on women who have spent time in solitary confinement. 

In spring 2022, she received Sage’s Doris Adams Ferguson ’53 Memorial Fellowship for Sociology and its Nancy Parker Neumann Memorial Travel Award. These awards support student travel related to research and social justice, respectively. 

Laura used her awards to spend a week in May at the American Jail Conference in Los Angeles. 

It was her first time traveling across the country alone, and she met dozens of potential mentors willing to share advice and connections for her research and for starting her career. 

“I made sure to get all the business cards,” she said. “I was like, this is amazing. Not only am I networking for my project, I’m also networking for when I graduate.”

Sociology Professor Michelle Napierski-Prancl encouraged Laura to apply for the fellowships.

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Law & Behavioral Science Jeff Golden helped her polish her research proposal. He also connected her with people in his network who have been published by the Vera Institute of Justice, who offered additional guidance to help Laura shape her project.

“I asked a bunch of questions and they pointed me in the directions of where to go and who to talk to,” Laura said. “Now it’s a matter of connecting all the dots.” 

She’ll do that this fall, when she takes Honors Research in Sociology, an independent study with Professor Ali Schaeffing. 

Laura will present her final paper in spring 2023. She’ll also have the opportunity to submit it to professional conferences or publications. 

This summer, she is interning at Hudson Valley House of Hope, which provides emergency shelter and advocacy for domestic violence survivors. She’s helping the organization build a donor database and website. Sage’s Office of Career Planning connected her with that opportunity. 

Laura said that while her interest in a career in criminal justice was inspired by relatives who work in corrections and law enforcement, her conversations and experiences this year have helped her realize she wants to work in a reentry program after earning a master’s degree in psychology.  

“I like the idea of being able to help [former inmates] once they’re released and to keep them on the right track,” she said. “If I can work in a reintegration program, I think I’d love that.”

“I feel good about myself,” she continued. “I am doing things that I like to do, that have to do with my major. It’s been a really amazing experience since January. The opportunities I’ve had are incredible.”


“I am doing things that I like to do, that have to do with my major ... The opportunities I've had are incredible.”

Laura Zinzow