Hispanic English Language Learners and Gifted Education: Elaine Estes ’19

Elaine Estes


Learning isn’t the same for every person; a teacher’s mission is to challenge students while also providing a safe and caring environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Elaine Estes’ ’19 Summer Scholar project is focusing on the pathways to and barriers within gifted education for English Language Learners (ELLs), with a special focus on Hispanic ELLs and those within the greater Philadelphia area.

“One thing I’ve learned in my time as an education major and teacher candidate here at SJU is that student experiences and teacher experiences are radically different,” says Estes.

A secondary education and Spanish double major from Oxford, Pennsylvania, who is also a member of the SJU Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field teams, Estes is conducting a literature review of scholarly studies on educational opportunities for gifted and Hispanic ELL students. She is creating a survey for and conducting interviews with local gifted program coordinators or school administrators in the Greater Philadelphia area. She will synthesize this information to develop recommendations for potential pathways for Hispanic ELLs in gifted education.

“English language learners have historically been one of many under-identified and underserved populations in gifted education programs,” says Estes’s Summer Scholar mentor Janine Firmender, Ph.D., assistant professor of education, who researches gifted education and pedagogy. “Elaine’s investigation into the pathways and potential barriers to gifted education services for English language learners is an important step in addressing this need in the field of gifted education.”

Estes is a member of the SJU Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field teams and has earned Dean’s List, Athletic Commissioner’s Honor Roll and A-10 Academic Honor Roll during her time at SJU. She was recently admitted to the University Senate as an at-large Senator for the class of 2019. Additionally, she is a member of the University Singers choral group and the Spanish National Honors Society, Sigma Delta PI.

She plans to use the knowledge she gains from her Summer Scholars research as she works toward becoming a teacher.

“I am interested in ELLs as a minority group, because I have seen through my experiences as a student and as a teacher candidate how they are disadvantaged within the school system,” says Estes. “I hope that my research might have a small impact in improving the educational situation for these students.”

Project Title: Hispanic English Language Learners and Gifted Education

Mentor: Janine Firmender, Ph.D., assistant professor of education

Hometown: Oxford, Pennsylvania

Follow @sjuartssciences & @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP



Colette Hanlon ’18: The Social Meaning of SNAP Benefits

Colette Hanlon


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been active for more than 50 years, providing aid to families throughout the country. Colette Hanlon’s  Summer Scholars project focuses on the lived experiences of those who grocery shop using SNAP benefits, or food stamps.

Hanlon, a rising senior sociology major and economics minor from Oxnard, California, is working with her mentor, Keith Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, to examine the social meaning of SNAP, mainly, how low-income consumers make decisions regarding healthy eating and food costs and if there are any common themes in purchasing. She will conduct two differently styled interviews with about 50 participants: “shop along” and sit-down interviews.

“The Summer Scholars Program is helping me to apply what I’ve learned in undergraduate work through a practical lens,” says Hanlon. “I’ve always been interested in how people budget their money. This project is giving me the opportunity to discover trends and examine the strengths and weaknesses of the SNAP program.”

Hanlon is working as the project’s coordinator. She has advertised the project to community organizations, such as Philabundance and Coalition Against Hunger, received participant calls, and scheduled, transcribed and conducted interviews for about 50 participants, who each will be interviewed twice. The project also includes Miriam Kahn, a retired anthropology professor at the University of Washington, and Mary Segal, who researched health policy while at Temple University. Kahn and Segal will focus on the program’s health and nutrition aspects.

Brown, whose teaching interests include ethical consumption, culture and economic sociology, says that Hanlon’s project is different than others because most current marketing and consumer behavior research focuses on wealthier consumers. The team will use the data they collect to create memos, which will be sent to community health organizations and grocery stores that seek to better provide access to healthy food for low-income consumers. The team is also planning to publish their research in at least two academic journals, and possibly, a book.

“Colette has an analytical way of looking at social problems, and she is able to work independently,” says Brown. “She has proven to be an invaluable addition to this project; we would not succeed without her.”

Hanlon will continue her research on this project for her honor’s thesis. As a result of her Summer Scholars experience, she is considering a career in research in either economic sociology or behavioral economics.

Project Title: The Social Meaning of SNAP Benefits

Mentor: Keith Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology

Hometown: Oxnard, California


Follow @sjuartssciences & @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

Gender Norms & Group Dynamics: Amelia Martinie ‘19

Martinie and Conry-Murray

Martinie (left) and Conry-Murray

We know that attention to gender norms start influencing children at a very young age.  Adults often assign colors schemes like pink bedrooms for girls or blue bedrooms for boys, and little boys get toy trucks while girls get baby dolls. But do those norms shape children’s judgments on their peers’ behavior? That’s the question that Summer Scholar Amelia Martinie ’19 is asking as she focuses on her project, “Gender Stereotypes and Their Effect on Children’s Potentials.”

“I chose this topic because I wanted to use research methods to explore peer group interactions as well as gender differences in perception,” says Martinie. “I’ve been interested in conducting research since taking the Research Methods class, so it was a good fit.”

A psychology major with a Spanish minor, Martinie will interview children ages eight and up about how they think about moral and conventional norms in theoretical peer-group interactions at her hometown YMCA in Jennersville, Pennsylvania. She will read stories to them and then ask about certain characters’ actions and how the children feel the characters should act, and why. She hopes to understand how deeply children consider gender norms and whether or not there are gender differences in their reactions.

Martinie says she discovered this line of research after taking the developmental psychology and research methods class with her Summer Scholars mentor, Clare Conry-Murray, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology. Conry-Murray has conducted research based on gendered toys and their effect on children’s perception of gender and its role in peer-interactions. She found that children do not recognize unequal opportunities available to boys and girls.

“Amelia will investigate how group dynamics affect children’s reasoning about challenging group norms,” says Conry-Murray. “If she is able to find support for her hypothesis, it will support the benefits of diversity, especially in children.”

Martinie is interested in continuing her research in SJU’s five-year M.S. program in psychology. She hopes to pursue a career as an experimental psychologist.

“The Summer Scholars program is giving me the chance to conduct my own research in the field of psychology,” says Martinie. “This is my first time doing research on my own so I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”

Martinie is a varsity rower, and is a member of Psi Chi, the Psychology Honors Society. She has also earned a spot on the Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll all four semesters that she has attended SJU.

Project Title:  Gender Norms and Group Dynamics

Mentor: Clare Conry-Murray, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology

Hometown:  Jennerstown, Pennsylvania

Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

Storytelling and ASD: Nick O’Malley ’19

Nick O’Malley ’19

As a lifeguard on Long Island last summer, aspiring pediatrician Nick O’Malley ’19 made sure to spend extra time helping children with special needs, some of whom had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This year, he is staying in Philadelphia as a Summer Scholar to begin work on research that aims to discover if TimeSlips, a storytelling therapy developed for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, can lessen anxiety and increase social interaction in children with ASD.

“I always had a passion for helping people with intellectual or physical disabilities,” says the interdisciplinary health services major and varsity rower from Floral Park, New York. “This project is a great way to continue this passion in a manner that might leave lasting results.”

When O’Malley’s advisor Eileen Sullivan, Pharm.D., assistant professor of health services — who has researched the effects of TimeSlips on dementia patients and found that it decreased their agitation and anxiety — told him that another health services professor, Anne Fetherston, Ph.D., would embark on novel research focusing the same therapy on children with ASD, O’Malley jumped at the chance to get involved.

TimeSlips is based in the improvisation, imagination and spontaneity that develop when dementia or Alzheimer’s patients are given a photograph they haven’t seen before — for example, a woman playing a guitar, and then they begin to tell the woman’s story. As the story progresses, anxiety and isolation decrease, and pleasant interaction with caregivers increases. Patients focus on the enjoyment that using their creativity brings, instead of the realization that their memory is failing.

Fetherston, a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) who has provided interventions based on Applied Behavior Analysis principles to multiple populations, including individuals with autism, became intrigued by Sullivan’s findings and wondered if TimeSlips could produce the same positive results in the autism community.

“People with Alzheimer’s or dementia present with social deficits and behavioral excesses such as anxious and disruptive behaviors,” says Fetherston. “Likewise, individuals with autism have deficits in social skills and often display challenging behaviors, including anxiety-based responses that impede development of social interactions and relationships.  Given that TimeSlips has been effective in ameliorating the problem behaviors of people with Alzheimer’s, we hypothesize that it will be an effective intervention for similar behaviors in people with ASD.”

While O’Malley and Fetherston are still in the early stages of designing the study, which will continue into the academic year, O’Malley says that the project has received approval to involve children with ASD who attend programs at SJU’s Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support.

“Nick is very committed to developing this research,” says Fetherston. “He has been pouring over literature to locate the background information supporting our hypothesis. The development of a line of research is an arduous task and Nick has displayed a strong commitment to making it successful.”

“I’m really lucky to be doing this work,” says O’Malley. “ASD is a huge public health issue, but many doctors don’t know much about it — they usually refer patients to other experts. I have a long road to go before I’m a pediatrician, but in my view, because we don’t have a cure for autism, it’s beneficial for everyone in healthcare to have more awareness about the disorder.”

Project Title: Examining the Effect of TimeSlips Therapy on Anxiety and Social Interaction of Individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

Mentor: Anne Fetherston, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Hometown: Floral Park, New York

Follow @sjuartssciences & @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

CTE and School Age Athletes: Brant Edmonds ’17


Brant Edmonds and Peter Clark, S.J.

Brant Edmonds and Peter Clark, S.J.

From court to field, sports fans show their appreciation and team spirit in a variety of ways. But Summer Scholar and biology major Brant Edmonds ’17 is channeling his love for sports in a unique manner: He’s looking at brain development in school age football players, and writing about the ethics surrounding young people who play football and might be exposed to practices that could eventually lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder caused by repeated concussion. His research goal is to write a paper that will provide guidance and protocols that could reduce the likelihood of these young players developing CTE as they mature.

An aspiring physician, Brant read Jeanne Marie Laskas’s (Class of 1980) New York Times bestseller Concussion, and the book served as the catalyst for his project. “After noticing that autopsies of younger players were displaying advanced stages of CTE, I wondered if the disease was beginning much earlier in a player’s career,” says Brant, who adds that he hopes his paper, which will be submitted for publication, promotes awareness of CTE risks among young players and parents.

Organized in six sections, his final work will include background information on CTE, an in-depth medical analysis of the disease, a historical view of CTE in American sports, the educational issues caused by football in elementary and high school players, and an overview of associated ethical issues. He’ll conclude his paper by proposing recommendations and safeguards for children rooted in the suggestions of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Brant’s SSP mentor Peter Clark, S.J., professor of theology and health services and director of SJU’s Institute of Clinical Bioethics (ICB), where Brant is a senior research fellow, observes him in a different capacity most week days as Brant attends ethics rounds and other bioethics related meetings at Mercy Health System, where Fr. Clark is the staff bioethicist.

“Brant is bright, inquisitive, and relates very well with patients and physicians,” says Fr. Clark. “He examines an ethical issue from all perspectives and then logically evaluates the facts of a case until he reaches a well-reasoned decision. He is an exceptional scholar and person and will make a great physician in the future.”

Earlier this year, Brant, Fr. Clark, Ana Maheshwari, a Mercy medical resident, and three other SJU students — Brendan Gleason, Michael DeMuzio  and Jennifer Schadt — co-authored a paper titled “Pediatric Brain Cancer Tissue Donation: Ask and You Shall Receive,” which was published in the Internet Journal of Pediatrics and Neonatology 18.

The success of the paper helped the ICB develop a formal relationship with the Swifty Foundation in Chicago, a leading funder of pediatric brain cancer research. Both Brant and Fr. Clark look forward to collaborating on various projects with the foundation in the future.

During the academic year, Brant participates in Adventure Club and Hand In Hand. He is an RA for St. Mary’s Hall and also works in the University’s Biodiversity Lab, focusing on animal care. Brant has earned Dean’s List honors and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

— Kayla E. Lane ’17

Office of University Communications


Project Title: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and its Effect on Elementary and Secondary School Student Athletes

Mentor: Peter Clark S.J., professor of theology and health services and director of the Institute of Clinical Bioethics

High School: Cherry Hill High School East, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

Cuban Economic & Agrarian Reforms Post-Revolution: John McGrath ’18


John McGrath '18

John McGrath ’18

The study tour John McGrath ’18 took to Cuba in the spring with his political science class —Contemporary Cuban Politics and Society — was not the initial spark for his curiosity about the relationship between economic and agrarian reforms in the island nation, but it did provide him the opportunity to formulate his Summer Scholars research topic.

“I have always been interested in the role that agriculture plays in society, especially since its importance is not highlighted in our country,” says the international relations major from South Kingstown, Rhode Island.

This summer, John is combining his curiosity about farming and his experience posing research questions while abroad to continue studying how Cuba’s post-revolution economy led to a change in the country’s agricultural practices — specifically how it fell to second place in the economy after the increase of tourism. He also hopes to discover how agriculture will change as a result of the new relationship between Cuba and the United States.

“The Cuban economy has become an especially exciting topic since the U.S. resumed diplomatic relations with its neighbor last year after having severed ties more than a half-century ago,” says John’s mentor Benjamin Liebman, Ph.D.,  professor of economics.

Dr. Liebman enjoys mentoring Summer Scholars as they navigate the research process and deepen their understanding of particular subjects in a way not usually possible during the school year. He says it’s also a learning experience for him, too.

“Working with Summer Scholars can be an opportunity for me to learn about topics outside of my research expertise,” says Dr. Liebman. “For example, I know a lot more about steel production in China than I do about Cuban agriculture, so I’m learning a lot from John this summer.”

Grateful for the opportunity the Summer Scholars program provides him to further explore a topic he finds intriguing, John looks forward to learning even more about Cuban reforms.

“[This research] is much more about following my interests than feeling compelled to complete assignments for a grade,” he says.

John is a recipient of the St. Andrew’s Scholarship and will focus on Middle East studies in Scotland at the University of St. Andrew’s beginning in the fall. He is a former member of the SJU Student Senate and has also been an RA.

— Liz Krotulis ’17

Office of University Communications


Summer Scholars Project Title: Examining the Relationship between Cuban Economic Reforms and Agrarian Reforms after the Cuban Revolution.

Mentor: Benjamin Liebman, Ph.D., professor of economics

High School: South Kingstown High School, South Kingstown, Rhode Island

Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

National Political Party Conventions & Social Justice Protests: Max Barrile ‘18

Max Barrile '18

Max Barrile ’18

In the midst of the heightened political rhetoric surrounding the 2016 presidential campaign and recent racial and social justice movements in the U.S., one SJU student is examining the extent to which history repeats itself.

Political science and international relations dual major Max Barrile ’18 will use his time as a Summer Scholar to conduct a comparative analysis of past and present protest activity at national political party conventions.

“I will be focusing mainly on the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968, the Cleveland Republican Convention and the Philadelphia Democratic Convention of 2016 as case studies,” Max says.

He will also highlight racial-based protests at the conventions to determine similarities, differences and whether or not the previous protests effectively foreshadow today’s convention protests. His work will analyze the tactics of some of the most prominent social justice movements including: the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, the Black Panthers and the Black Lives Matter Movement.

“I love research and I love SJU, so applying for the Summer Scholars Program allowed me to stay on campus and do research as my summer job,” Max says. He adds that he hopes to gain “a greater understanding of  protests and protest movements, and to better understand the history of the Civil Rights Movement and how its current incarnations, BLM, for instance, have adopted similar tactics or adapted to modern times.”

Becki Scola, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of political science, further fostered Max’s commitment to social justice during an Intro to American Politics class she taught in the fall. Dr. Scola now serves as his mentor for the summer.

“Max’s project is timely, given the upcoming convention and presidential election, and his research question will lead to an interesting study of how protest impacts national politics and the presidential nomination process,” Dr. Scola says.

“I asked Dr. Scola to be my mentor because of her expertise in American politics and because she has an additional specialty in protest and social movements,” Max says.

Max’s current research will also coincide with his work in the fall when he interns with The Washington Center’s Academic Seminar for the Democratic National Committee.

With his passion for social justice, Max exemplifies an aspect of the magis. “I am a strong believer in equal rights for all. I also believe that a society is only successful when each of its members are free and treated equally,” he says.

During the regular academic year, Max is involved in Phi Sigma Pi and volunteers as a Hawk Host. He also participates in College Democrats, the Dean’s Leadership Program and the Appalachian Experience. He is a Dean’s Scholarship recipient and he studies in the Honors Program.

— Kayla E. Lane ’17

Office of University Communications


Summer Scholars Project: Tension at the Convention: National Nominating Conventions as Sites of Social and Political Protest

Mentor: Becki Scola, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of political science

High School: City Honors School #195 at Fosdick Masten Park, Buffalo, New York


Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

Aquatic Exercise & Academic Response in Children with ASD: Erin Ross ’17

Dr. George (left) and Erin Ross

Dr. George (left) and Erin Ross

This summer, chemistry major Erin Ross ’17 of Warrington, Pennsylvania, won’t be spending much time lounging by the pool; rather, as a Summer Scholar, she has devoted herself to conducting research by the pool.

In partnership with the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support,  Erin will study the effects of aquatic exercise on stereotypic behaviors (rapid, repetitive movement) and the academic response of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) ages three-to-seven years .

During the course of Camp Kinney, the Center’s summer program, Erin is examining the academic and social responses of children as they participate in camp and classroom tasks before and after swimming. Some days, the children will be in a “no/low exercise” condition, and other days, the children will be in the exercise condition, expending more energy while swimming in the O’Pake Recreation Center Pool.

This project is timely because little is known about the effects of aquatic exercise on sterotypy and correct responding in children with ASD. Erin’s goal is that the research findings be used by families and teachers to minimize stereotypic behaviors in these children.

“I hope [this work] makes a positive impact for children with ASD,” Erin says, adding that her research project is different from anything she has done before.

“Because I’m a chemistry major, I spend a lot of time working in the lab. My Summer Scholar project is exposing me to another side of research that I’m learning how to conduct with people,” she says.

Erin predicts her Summer Scholars Program (SSP) experience will help prepare her for a career in medicine as a developmental pediatrician working with children on the Autism spectrum.

Cheryl George, Ph.D., assistant professor of special education and Erin’s SSP mentor, has over 10 years of experience in researching the effects of aerobic exercise in children with ASD. Her mission to improve behavior and academic performance in children with disabilities and discover applicable solutions for teachers and families to apply in support of those children meshes perfectly with Erin’s interests.

“When I interviewed Erin, I felt she would be the ideal candidate to mentor,” says Dr. George. “Because she’s been trained and worked as a Kinney SCHOLAR, and because she had previous experience conducting research, she possessed the background knowledge necessary to be successful with this summer project. I am thoroughly enjoying mentoring Erin and working alongside her, and I’m grateful that SJU has provided this opportunity.”

Dr. George and Erin are in the process of drafting a manuscript of the project to submit for publication, and they have already submitted two proposals to present their research outcomes: at PACEC, a Pennsylvania statewide special education convention, and at an international conference in Florida that is hosted by the Division for Autism and Developmental Disability, a subdivision of the Council for Exceptional Children.

In addition to working as a Kinney SCHOLAR during the academic year, Erin is a weekly service volunteer and a member of the Molloy Chemical Society, as well as the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.

— Elizabeth Krotulis ’17

Office of University Communications


Summer Scholars Project Title: The Impact of Aquatic Exercise on Academic Responding and Stereotypical Behavior of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Mentor: Cheryl L. George, Ph.D., assistant professor of special education

High School: Central Bucks High School South, Warrington, Pennsylvania

Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP


Mentoring, Literacy and the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Ciarra Bianculli ’17 & John Goldberg ’17


Goldberg (left) & Bianculli

Goldberg (left) & Bianculli

English and secondary education double majors Ciarra Bianculli ’17 and John Goldberg ’17 talked frequently with classmates about the need to improve education for students likelier than their peers to encounter the juvenile justice system. Wanting to make a difference in education for young people facing the school-to-prison pipeline, the two are participating in the Summer Scholars program to find the most effective ways to engage and succeed with at risk learners.

“We are providing one-on-one tutoring and mentoring for at risk youth between the ages of 13 and 17,” says John. “These students typically read one or two grade-levels below what they should, so our goal this summer is to increase literacy through different methods.”

Twice a week, Ciarra and John travel to the Police Athletic League of Norristown, Pennsylvania, a community organization offering education, rehabilitation and detention services to the juvenile justice system.. The scholars also create personalized lesson plans for each of their 12 students with their mentor, Suniti Sharma, Ph.D., associate professor of education.

Dr. Sharma knew that Ciarra and John were serious about the project when she encountered their curiosity about youth prisoner education. As an activist for and researcher of the school-to-prison pipeline, Dr. Sharma is well aware of how rewarding, yet heartbreaking, work with at risk youth can be.

“Once I knew they were very interested and keen to start tutoring, I was excited,” says the first time Summer Scholars mentor. “I knew I was going to be working with two of the best scholars at SJU who were committed to advancing their teacher competencies by becoming social justice activist teachers invested in educational change.”

To ready themselves for the intensity of the project, Ciarra and John participated in an orientation to work with youth prisoners, earned their Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative certification to understand the implications of working with vulnerable populations, and read several books and articles on their topic.

“I applied for the Summer Scholars program with the hope that having this experience would help make me be a better teacher someday,” says Ciarra. “I want to play a part in students’ lives and help show them that learning and education are so important.”

A member of the Phi Sigma Pi Honors Fraternity and Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society, Ciarra is involved in Make-A-Wish and Relay for Life at SJU. Additionally, she serves as the assistant lifestyle editor for The Hawk student newspaper and as an SJU transfer mentor.

When he isn’t exploring the theoretical and research aspects of education, John is a Hawk Host with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and a member of the SJU Theatre Company.

— Elizabeth Krotulis ’17

Office of University Communications


Summer Scholars Project Title: “Mentoring and Literacy for Youth in the School-to-Prison Pipeline”

Mentor: Suniti Sharma, Ph.D., associate professor of education

High Schools: Ciarra attended Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

John attended Whippany Park High School, Whippany, New Jersey

How Blackness is Lived: Eric Adjei-Danquah ’17

Adjei-Danquah '17 (right) and Yates

Adjei-Danquah ’17 (right) and Yates

Eric Adjei-Danquah ’17, a rising senior biology major with minors in health care ethics and behavioral neuroscience, loves learning. “I like to learn in a way where I am in control, where I am deeply invested, and where my experience is self-driven,” he says. It’s no surprise, then, that Eric would apply to the Summer Scholars Program.

An aspiring physician, he’s spent much of his time at Saint Joseph’s studying the sciences, and deciding he wanted to step away briefly from pipettes and sterile technique, he elected as a Summer Scholar to work with Assistant Professor of History Brian Yates, Ph.D., whose expertise focuses on identity construction, Ethiopian history, The Oromo, African state building and modern African history.

With Eric’s interest in African culture and the Pan African diaspora in mind, he and Dr. Yates — who taught Eric in Forging the Modern World, HIS 154 — developed his project, which Eric says explores several dynamics, including perceived philosophical and value system differences within the black community, based on country of origin, generational length and self-identity. He’s also looking at the idea of a tangibly distinct culture as a comprehensive black community. Eric is analyzing national data to determine if socioeconomic outcomes and trends of persons considered black match their individual ethnic cultures, identities, philosophies and values.

“I had the pleasure of teaching Eric in my History 154 class for which he wrote an exceptional philosophically centered paper,” says Dr. Yates. “Since then, we’ve tried to connect on a class together, but his schedule precluded that, so I’m glad this project gives us the opportunity to work together again.

“We’re  looking at specific cultural practices, beliefs and values that are helping to answer Eric’s research question, and he is making significant progress,” he adds.

“I’m having fun with this project,” says Eric. “I wake up every day excited to be doing what I’m doing, and about where this work could lead. The Summer Scholar’s program allows me to be an adventurer, an explorer and a true learner,” Eric says.

A fellow of SJU’s Institute of Clinical Bioethics, Eric says he plans to carry the work he produces this summer into a paper analyzing the “legacy of mistrust in the African American community toward the medical profession related to end-of-life issues.”

Before he attends medical school, he would like to do service work in an inner-city, urban community. Eric is also interested in doing post-undergraduate work in philosophy.

A third year returning RA and a captain for the 2020 Student Orientation Team, Eric is involved with several Institute initiatives  and also teaches for the GeoKidsLINKS program. As a first year student, he received a travel grant to present research at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farms Research Campus. He has also presented at the annual Sigma Xi research symposium and at the American Society for Cell Biology.

–Patricia Allen ’13 (M.A.)

Office of University Communications


Summer Scholars Project Title: “How ‘Blackness’ is Lived: An Exploration of Cultural and Economic Experiences Between Africans, African Americans, and Black Americans”

Mentor: Brian Yates, Ph.D., assistant professor of history

High School: Preparatory Charter High School of Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Careers (Prep Charter), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP