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Senior Symposium

The Senior Symposium highlights the diversity of undergraduate scholarship at Gallatin. The annual event showcases a select group of seniors who present live talks that share ideas at the heart of their academic passions. Developed from individualized majors and colloquium topics, the talks span a range of disciplines and are meant to teach and to inspire the community.



Senior Symposium 2019

Jenzia Burgos Biography

Jenzia is a Bronx-born writer and editor with a Gallatin concentration in Arts Journalism and Cultural Criticism. Her work as a critic is interested in the subjectivity of performers in music, theater, and film. She especially considers how performer’s identities are capable of both informing and complicating narratives of minority/majority subjects in culture at large. Her Colloquium, “Performing Identity: From Bard to Pop Star” grappled with these ideas through critical race, gender, and sexuality theory, music history, dramatic literature, and performance studies. Jenzia currently serves as a Music Editor at Gallatin’s Arts & Culture magazine, Embodied. Previously, she interned and written for online publications such as Paste Magazine, AdHoc, The Knockturnal, and Theater Development Fund’s SEEN Magazine. Jenzia will give the student address at the Gallatin Graduation Ceremony. She would like to dedicate this talk to her parents and the neighborhoods that raised her— Spanish Harlem and the South Bronx— for giving breath to her words on and off the page.

Emily Gordin Biography

Emily’s concentration, Designing the Good, investigates the intersections of design, ethics, and the environment. Her studies are based around the assertion that designer consider not only the aesthetic and utilitarian qualities of design, but also their environmental, societal, and cultural effects. She explores ethical questions such as “Is something well designed if it is not environmentally sound?” Emily is interested in designer agency, and in understanding what she, as an aspiring industrial designer, can do to promote social and environmental equity. She examines the relationship between Western consumption and the environment, specifically focusing on single-use culture, planned obsolescence, the effects of outsourcing production/manufacturing and attempts to unpack how this reflects the West’s values. Emily ultimately aims to reimagine the way we make things and believes that to create designs that are environmentally conscious, we must first redesign our value systems. After graduation, she will begin a Master in Industrial Design program at Pratt.

Sabrina Illiano Biography

Sabrina came to Gallatin interested in studying politics and social justice, which quickly evolved into a focus on human rights scholarship. She discovered a passion for exploring how the past, especially the ancient past, becomes political in modern nation-states in the Middle East. Following this unexpected interest has greatly enriched her concentration “Politics of the Past: Human Rights, Heritage and National Identity in the Middle East.” She is excited to examine how the interplay between cultural heritage and human rights might facilitate better understandings of the power of history and national identity in contexts of conflict. Sabrina’s Senior Project draws on human rights, cultural heritage politics, archaeology, territorial nationalism, conflict studies, discourses of indigenous identity, and international law to consider how constructions of cultural heritage both shape and mobilize human rights claims in Israel and Palestine. She looks forward to building on these investigations in the fall at the University of Oxford, where she will study for an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy.

Hajra Jamal Biography

Hajra’s concentration, Narrative Medicine and Medical Narratives, explores how the clinical encounter is humanized through the practice of empathic care, informed by narrative ethics. This emerging discipline supplements Western medicine's approach by reinstating the deeply human nature of medicine and by honoring and being moved to action by stories of illness. In exploring the intersections of art and science, Hajra is also interested in environmentally sustainable and ethical research. Her senior project focuses on detecting the genes and mechanisms that plants use to sense and respond to changing environmental conditions. She examines these in order to consider how to develop crops that can adapt to a rapidly changing climate. As an aspiring physician, scientists, and writer, her academic endeavors have helped her approach each of her interests through an overarching interdisciplinary lens.

Jonathan Ji Biography

Jonathan’s concentration investigates the intersections between queer theory and Christian theology to explore the ways diverse identities can be welcomed into Christianity. His research examines Biblical hermeneutics, histories of sexuality, and the Metropolitan Community Churches. In his Senior Project, “We, the Body of Christ, have AIDS,” Jonathan looked at the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco and the various AIDS ministries the gay church enacted to reconstruct homosexual identity in the midst of terror. Jonathan created an Independent Study, “Sexuality in the Church”, for which he studied the current stance of homosexuality within ten American denominations. He translated this information into a Dean’s Award for Summer Research project in which he conducted an ethnography of the gay churches of San Francisco. Outside of Gallatin, Jonathan continued his research at NYU’s Center for the Humanities as part of the Undergraduate Summer Research Program, presenting his work at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium. He is currently a Digital and Inclusive Excellence Fellow for the Association of Research Libraries and works at NYU’s LGBTQ Student Center. Post graduation, Jonathan will be pursuing a Masters of Theological Study with an emphasis in Queer theory at Harvard Divinity School.

Sadie Mlika Biography

Sadie’s concentration brings politics and culture into conversation as she reimagines the dynamics between democratic institutions and public action. The question at the core of her studies asks what democracy can mean: from an ideology, or institutional form, to an integrated practice of everyday life. Much of her undergraduate studies focused on determining why democratic societies are so often characterized by intense and enduring struggles over issues of identity, as well as the ways in which democratic forms of political life are facilitated and hindered by the economic structures in place. Her conception of democratic action involves public deliberation and citizens acting in concert in order to actively re-establish common needs and values. This action requires visibility, in the sense of individual appearance in the public sphere, in order to redefine a collective conscience and understanding. She believes that performance, as a form of art, can also serve a political function, in that it enables an audience to both access and grapple with the political in their everyday lives. Therefore, the theatrical stage can be a space of public appearance as well as one that can be transformed into a platform for political debate. After graduation, Sadie will begin a MPhil International Relations and Politics at Cambridge University.

Maria Polzin Biography

In her concentration, Poetics of the Political, Maria investigates the ways in which articulating emotion in the domain of the political can be radical and radicalizing. Maria is conducting research with the Center on Violence and Recovery to understand how restorative justice can address intimate partner violence in NYC. When Maria is not studying, she is advocating for survivors of sexual assault. She started Survivors NYC, an ongoing project that uses arts to empower survivors of sexual assault and to spread awareness of sexual violence. With versatile partners ranging from photographers to social workers, Maria and her team publish magazines and art projects that showcase survivors's stories and identities, and provide them a space to claim control over their narratives. Passionate for all things related to social justice, Maria also works on food rights. Most recently, she traveled to South Africa to film a documentary on behalf of the University of Cape Town and in partnership with the European Union.

Lila Rimalovski Biography

Lila is a student of Earth working at the intersection of regenerative agriculture, systems ecology, and environmental justice. With a concentration in Radical Ecology and a minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies, she meshes critical social theories with the wisdom of ecosystems to reimagine and redesign ways of living, eating, and growing on the planet. By addressing climate change and social injustice specifically through the regeneration of our food system, Lila is dedicated to identifying farming practices that work towards the simultaneous healing of the environment and all of its species. Through academic opportunities and grants from the Dean’s Honors Society, the Horn Family Fund for Environmental Research, and NYU Berlin, Lila has studied temperate and tropical agriculture globally while engaging with farms dedicated to food sovereignty and biomimetic design. Currently, she cultivates development strategies for an agricultural community space based in Brooklyn. Upon her graduation, Lila will be living and working outside through a year-long farm fellowship in upstate New York focused on biodynamic agriculture, community leadership, and permaculture design.

Rachel Stern Biography

Rachel’s concentration explores how humans relate to and shape their environment, as well how natural resources affect conflict and can be used for peace. Her course of study brings together political ecology, environmental justice, Indigenous theory and land rights, peace and conflict studies, and environmental history. Rachel was a 2017 Gallatin Global Fellow in Urban Practice in Oakland, California, where she researched climate resilience projects through the lens of environmental justice. She received a 2016 Gallatin Horn Family Environmental Studies Research Grant to look at urban greening projects in Berlin and a 2017 Horn Family grant to research the presence of Indigenous ideology in the Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California. Rachel is also an active member of the Urban Democracy Lab’s Student Advisory Board. Outside of Gallatin, Rachel has worked as the co-coordinator of the Environmental Law Institute’s Environmental Peacebuilding program since April 2018. In this position, she has assisted with the growth and administration of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association, worked on research projects, and helped to coordinate a team of volunteers. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career and further degrees in the fields of cultural geography and environmental and natural resource policy.

Senior Symposium - Previous Years

Natalia Barr - Beyond Cock Rock (2018)

Rachel A.G. Gilman - Rational Creatures (2018)

Léah Miller - Queerness of Language (2018)

Micah Prussack - Blood and Soil: Political Dreams of Kinship (2018)

Maria Alejandra Torres - Borderlands: US Empire, Mexico & Postcolonial Mestizaje (2018)

Melody Xu - The Reciprocity of "Real" and Artificial Intelligence (2018)

Michael J. Abraham - “woman is perfect:” The Poetry of H.D. (2017)

Omayeli Arenyeka - Data, Beauty, and Action (2017)

Hannah Baek - Reimag(in)ing North Korea (2017)

Felix Ho Yuen Chan - Chinese Contemporary Art (2017)

Jacob Ford - Tomographic Topography (2016)

Natalee Ho - Critical Faith: International Law, Human Rights and the “Third World” (2016)

Julia Lee - Art in the Anthropocene (2015)

Megan Powers - Beyond Partisan Politics (2015)

Rachel Brazie - Towards a Haunted Community (2014)