Carnegie Mellon University
April 20, 2016

Dietrich College Selects 11 Honors Fellows

By Emily Stimmel

Several of the newly selected fellows pose for a photo.Several of the newly selected fellows pose for a photo.

Eleven outstanding juniors have been named 2016-2017 Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences Honors Fellows. Part of the college’s Senior Honors Program, the Honors Fellowship Program is designed to give students a head start on their thesis development. Fellows receive financial support to spend the summer before their senior year researching their thesis topics.

Projects that the students will tackle range from creatively exploring human separation and a theory of refugee self-sufficiency to researching self-affirmation and the physical and psychological causal inference in adults.

Kenya Dworkin y Méndez, associate professor of Hispanic Studies, will work with Kayla Lee, a global studies and Hispanic Studies major, on the refugee project. Lee aims to identify and analyze the factors that influence the relationship between economic self-sufficiency and English language proficiency among Pittsburgh’s Bhutanese-Nepali refugees.

“Kayla already has impressive experience and competence with this community. I know her research will make an important contribution for these and future refugees, as well as to numerous social service agencies,” Dworkin said.

Delancey Wu, who is majoring in psychology and decision science, plans to examine how affectionate touch can increase sacrifices made in a romantic relationship by increasing feelings of authenticity. Wu will work with Brooke Feeney, associate professor of psychology and acclaimed interpersonal relationship expert.

“The fact that something as simple as touch can change how we feel about our partner and relationship is really cool and unexpected,” said Wu. “Touch is also a relatively unexplored field in the relationship literature, so learning more about it can inform others of what touch is capable of and maybe even help improve others’ relationships.”

The extra time during the summer allows students to focus exclusively on their research without the competing demands of coursework, internships and extracurricular activities. Now in its third year, the program has an impressive track record that includes providing opportunities for the fellows to develop lasting mentor relationships that enhance their lives academically, personally and professionally.

“The intellectual community that builds in the fellowship cohort each year is a special experience for the students, faculty and the assistant and associate deans who administer the program,” remarked Jennifer Keating-Miller, assistant dean for educational initiatives.

The Honors Fellowship Program has grown exponentially since launching in 2014.

“The program has grown from four fellows in 2014, to eight fellows in 2015, to 11 this year. We have been working to ensure the students who can benefit from the program know about it and pursue it with intentionality,” Keating-Miller said.

She added that the new fellows are, “A dynamic group of motivated students and stellar faculty ready to facilitate the process.”

The 2016-2017 Dietrich College Senior Honors Fellows:

Jordan Cox

Majors: Creative Writing and Professional Writing
Project: A Creative Proposal for the Exploration of Human Separation
Adviser: Gerald Costanzo

Mary Catherine (Casey) Devine

Majors: Global Studies and French and Francophone Studies
Project: French Nationalism and Unity Associated with La Loi Toubon
Adviser: Mame-Fatou Niang

Ariel Hoffmaier

Majors: Creative Writing and Ethics, History & Public Policy
Minor: Professional Writing
Project: A Trove of Connections: Reimagining LGBT Identity Through Multimedia Stories
Adviser: Sharon Dilworth

Dhruva Krishna

Majors: Ethics, History & Public Policy and Professional Writing
Project: Do DIY: A Documentary About the Pittsburgh Music Scene
Advisers: Tim Haggerty, Scott Sandage

Kayla Lee

Majors: Global Studies and Hispanic Studies
Minor: Politics and Public Policy
Project: Understanding the Economic Self-Sufficiency of Adult Bhutanese-Nepali Refugees in Pittsburgh Through English Language Proficiency: Towards a Theory of Refugee Self-Sufficiency
Adviser: Kenya Dworkin y Méndez

You Bin Maeng

Major: Psychology
Minor: Cognitive Neuroscience
Project: Physical and Psychological Causal Inference in Adults
Adviser: David Rakison

Sophia Makal

Major: Psychology
Project: Using Self-Affirmation to Increase Willingness to Give Social Support in Males
Adviser: Brooke Feeney

Karen Nguyen

Majors: Professional Writing and Psychology
Project: Coming of Age as a Vietnamese American
Adviser: Jane McCafferty

Naomi Sternstein

Majors: Creative Writing and Chemical Engineering
Project: Collected Fiction
Adviser: Kevin González

Delancey Wu

Majors: Psychology and Decision Science
Project: Touch Holds True: How Affectionate Touch Can Promote Authentic Sacrifices in Romantic Relationships
Adviser: Brooke Feeney

Diana Yuh

Major: Global Studies
Project: Flexible Citizenship and Politics of Belonging: Gendered Migration of Chosonjok Women
Adviser: Judith Schachter