University of Maryland Individual Studies Program

Spring & Fall 2011 Graduates




ZAHRA ASHKTORAB

B.A., Middle East Studies
B.S., Computer Science
Minor: Arabic
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Peter Wien, Department of History
Dr. Allison Druin, College of Information Studies

Zahra will be graduating with a double degree in Individual Studies (Middle East Studies) and Computer Science. She will also be getting her minor in Arabic. Zahra’s IVSP major focuses on multiple facets of the Middle East, such as history, government and politics, culture, and language. Zahra’s senior Capstone Project extensively involved the language component of her major. She was motivated by the large presence of Iranian immigrants in America with bilingual children. Her project focuses on the interests of these youth when given the ability to search through a book in their mother language—in this case, Farsi. Using a book from the International Children’s Digital Library, she created a Web site that allowed search in English and Farsi to enable children to conduct searches throughout the book. Zahra has interned at the National Institutes of Health twice and will be an intern at the Smithsonian this summer. After graduation, she will be pursuing a Master’s in Human Computer Interaction followed by a PhD in Information Studies at the University of Maryland. She is very proud and excited to continue being a part of the UMD community.

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TAMI BURGER
B.A., Mediation: Interpersonal Relationships
B.A., History
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Leah Waks, Department of Communication

Tami is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a double major in Mediation: Interpersonal Relationships and History. The Mediation: Interpersonal Relationships degree focuses on the process related to negotiation and conflict management among families in an interpersonal setting. Her major taught Tami how to frame an issue or offer, suggest a direction for further discussion, and discuss a problem that may affect the psychological aspects of parties’ willingness to settle a dispute. Tami’s senior thesis questions the academic research that addresses the choice to involve or exclude children from the divorce and child custody mediation process, also known as child-inclusive mediation. Tami was fortunate enough to receive an IVSP Professional Development & Research Grant to travel to Canada and interview a professional child-inclusive divorce mediator. The information acquired was central to her thesis about the positive aspects of including children in the divorce mediation process. In addition to her academic pursuits, Tami has been working as an intern for the Key-Bridge Foundation in Washington, DC. Here, Tami was lucky enough to study with Dr. Peter Maida, a prominent and distinguished member of the family mediation field. At her internship, Tami learned to more wholly understand the mediation process as it pertains to children and divorce. Dr. Maida’s plethora of knowledge and connections to various researchers enabled her to get in touch with practitioners about whose work she was reading. After graduation, Tami plans to attend graduate school for either clinical social work or marriage and family therapy. Tami has made the Dean’s List several times throughout her experience at the University of Maryland. She is a member of several extracurricular clubs and a highly involved member of the Hillel Jewish community on campus.

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Serena Fasano in Mali SERENA FASANO
B.A., Public Health Education and Promotion
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robin Sawyer, School of Public Health

As a Public Health Education and Promotion major, Serena has had the opportunity to practice health prevention in several different areas and to study the principles and methodologies of leadership in an effort to maintain and improve health. A HEALTH Works peer educator and mentor, Serena spent two years educating her peers about wellbeing as well as planning and implementing health programs on campus. She also spent two consecutive semesters as Dr. Mia Ko’s teacher’s assistant, an incredible learning experience which allowed her to gain insight on the health education. She served on the Student Health Advisory Committee evaluating UMD’s Health Center and connecting students with resources. Serena had the opportunity to mentor with the Center for Vaccine Development and conducted a summer-long internship in Mali, Africa. Her research in Mali inspired her to create the DIF5RENCE project to raise awareness of the various causes of childhood mortality. Serena’s Capstone Project raises awareness of the different health issues affecting children in West Africa through a documentary and an education program.

Serena is a frequent member of the Dean’s List. In the fall, Serena will be starting the Health Promotion MPH at Columbia University, and she is extremely excited to be moving to New York City. She would like to thank all of her mentors who have given her inspirational educational experiences: Dr. Sawyer, Dr. Ko, Laurie, and Dr. Soe. She would also like to thank her family, especially her nonna, for their immense support. 

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BENJAMIN GARNER
B.A., Sport Culture and Communication
Faculty Mentor: Major Dan Shaltanis, AF-ROTC Department

Ben is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Sport Culture and Communication. His degree focuses on the direct relationship between sport and American society. For his senior project, Ben organized a 5K race that benefitted the Wounded Warrior Project. Through the use of marketing, advertising, sponsorship leveraging, and public relations, over 150 people ran in the race, which raised over $5,000 for the charity. The race was covered by the Diamondback, Washington Post, St. Mary’s Today,and Annapolis Capital Gazette. In addition to his academic pursuits, Ben has been working as an intern for the government relations firm Book Hill Partners in Washington, D.C., where he assisted in the organization of the National Foundation for Physical Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition, which will raise funding for physical fitness programs in schools. In addition to his work with Book Hill Partners, Ben also interned with Maryland’s Media Relations Department, covering the Men’s Tennis and Wrestling teams. After graduation, Ben plans to work within the sports industry. Ben has been recognized for his academic success by being named to the Dean’s List. Ben has also been continuously involved within the campus community, holding leadership positions with WMUC Sports and the Sports Business Society.

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MAUREEN JONES
B.A., International Studies
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Roberta Lavine, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Maureen is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. The International Studies degree is a combination of international relations, Spanish, and French. Maureen spent part of her undergraduate career in Argentina and Denmark. She felt that it was important to study abroad in order to better understand the international world. She spent five months in Buenos Aires, Argentina, improving her Spanish language skills and studying international relations. In Denmark, Maureen continued taking international relations courses and learned an immense amount about Europe and its role in global politics. Also, she took a few classes that focused on human rights and Islam, which furthered her interest in those areas of study. For her senior thesis, Maureen researched the women’s rights transgressions that occur in the Muslim world. In her thesis, Maureen focused on published personal stories that have come from the region. In addition to her academic pursuits, Maureen has been working as an intern with The Raben Group in Washington D.C. The Raben Group is a unique public policy firm: its employees are comprised of mostly minorities who work for minority rights. After graduation, Maureen plans to work for a year and then attend graduate school. She hopes to earn a master’s degree in the field of human rights and international social work.  

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CAITLIN MARSHALL
B.A., Culture, Crime, and Family Health
Minor: Spanish Language and Culture
University Honors Program
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robert Marcus, Department of Human Development

Caitlin Marshall is proud to be from the high-five of America, a.k.a. Michigan. When asked why she chose the University of Maryland, her answer is simple: “Because I love it here.” However, a more correct answer might be that she loves what Maryland has to offer. She took full advantage of the unique opportunities within the Honors College, such as studying peace and going whitewater rafting; of the Alternative Breaks program, volunteering in Lima, Peru; and of the free group fitness classes, especially Zumba, Cardioboxing, and Yogafit. However, the experience that truly molded her into the woman she is today, ready for the real world, was her involvement with the Individual Studies Program. Her designed major, Culture, Crime, and Family Health, gave her the opportunity to dabble in all of the fields she found most interesting and soak up as much knowledge as she could during her college career. Yet, just when she found her niche, Caitlin jumped across the pond to study in Spain for a semester and liked it so much that she decided to stay another year in England, where she played varsity lacrosse and worked in a pub. Upon returning to the motherland, she enjoyed the change of pace from pouring lager for footballers to being appointed as the Coordinator of Social Media for the Stamp. Caitlin also finished her training to become a counselor at the Help Center (301-314-HELP) and devoted much of time her senior year volunteering there.

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CARA MELLEA
B.A., Principles of Art Therapy
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Patrice Kehoe, Department of Art

Cara is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Principles of Art Therapy. With her degree, Cara focused on coursework in studio art, psychology, and family and child studies. The degree focuses on the use of art as a therapy to unlock and view the subconscious and help to explore feelings that may not be easily expressed through words. Cara interned at Georgetown Hospital’s Lombardi Oncology Center, where she painted and colored with patients who were seeking treatment for cancer as well as their family and friends who accompanied them on appointments. Cara also explored working with children with special needs at the Diener School in Potomac, Maryland. There, Cara worked with a wide range of children with intellectual disabilities to help them use art as a tool for communication and expression. For her Capstone Project, Cara created lesson plans for the Diener School children to see the effects of art on them and to view how art can be used to communicate with the children. Upon graduation, Cara will be attending the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Cara will be studying to gain her Master’s in Professional Studies in Art Therapy and will be working with children with special needs for her first-year field work.

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YANA RATUSHNY

B.A. Intergovernmental Communication: The U.S. and Russia
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bart Kaminski, Department of Government and Politics

Yana is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Intergovernmental Communication. Her degree focuses on the intercultural communication and foreign relations between the United States and Russia. Her coursework included an intercultural communication course, Russian history, and international relations courses. Yana’s senior thesis analyzes the relationship between the two nations. The central argument to her thesis was that the Russian Federation needed to give more attention to democratizing their government and start upholding human rights in order for the two nations to be able to maintain the good relationship that was reestablished two years ago.

Yana has interned at the National Conference for Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) and the National Defense University. For the past two semesters, she has been interning for Hillel as a Campus Entrepreneur, whose goal is to engage uninvolved students in on-campus Jewish-related activities. Following graduation, Yana plans on pursuing a career in foreign affairs for a year prior to applying for graduate school, where she wants to earn a master’s degree in international relations.

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CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS
B.A., Leadership, Counseling, and Religion
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kurt Finsterbusch, Department of Sociology

Chris is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Leadership, Counseling, and Religion. The Leadership, Counseling, and Religion degree focuses on understanding and learning how to help others. He has taken classes in sociology, communication, leadership, psychology, history, and religion among other departments to gain broad and versatile knowledge. He has also worked with other organizations such as the Veritas Institute of Mentorship—where students and young professionals receive coaching and mentorship from established and successful businessmen—and his local church to be able turn what he has learned in his degree into applied knowledge. Furthermore, Chris wrote his capstone project, “The Growth of Early Christianity through Early Church Leaders” on the leadership of several early church leaders, including Jesus, Paul, and Constantine, and how they crafted their leadership styles to fit their circumstances and goals. Chris is looking forward to careers in both entrepreneurship and church ministry. 

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Lila Rosenbloom LILA ZIVA ROSENBLOOM

B.A., Global Sustainable Development
B.A., Jewish Studies
College Park Scholars – Advocates for Children
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sheila Jelen, Department of English and Jewish Studies Program

Lila is excited to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a double major in Global Sustainable Development and one in Jewish Studies. Her IVSP degree incorporates anthropology, economics, and environmental science to study the societal barriers that prevent equal access to resources as well as how to integrate human behavior and ecological systems in a way that ensures long-term wellbeing for both people and the environment. Lila’s senior thesis, “Shifting Imbalance: A Holistic Approach to Sustainable Development,” uses creative and academic methods to answer the question “what is sustainable development?” Lila’s interests were especially molded by study abroad experiences living and working in ecovillages in both Israel and India.

Lila’s collegiate accomplishments include winning UMD’s Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies Essay Contest and a roundtrip flight to Israel for her first-place submission, “Jewish Remembrance: Yom HaShoah, the Zionists, and the Shofar.” In addition, she has been a regular Dean’s List honoree and a member of the Hebrew Honors Society. She also received a citation for the College Park Scholars Program in the Advocates for Children track. To complement her education in advocacy for children, Lila served as a tutor and mentor for local neighborhood children through the Lakeland Stars Program. In addition to her academic pursuits, Lila has worked as an intern at the Alliance for Community Trees and as a copy editor for the University of Maryland’s student newspaper, the Diamondback. She also traveled to New Orleans and Mexico on Alternative Spring Break Trips. After graduation, Lila will be interning at the Human Rights Campaign and plans on pursuing other jobs that work to break barriers to equality for all people.

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NICOLE SEDAKA

B.S., Applied Health Sciences
Magna Cum Laude
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Woodie Kessel, School of Public Health

Nicole is proud to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Health Sciences. Her degree focuses on biological health, behavioral health, and public health and policy. Through her involvement in the Individual Studies and Federal Semester programs, Nicole has held several internships at federal health agencies. As an intern in Division of Special Populations at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Nicole conducted an evaluation of current childhood obesity interventions. She also explored health and nutrition policy while working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Washington Office. Nicole is currently learning about the clinical basis of childhood obesity as a research assistant in the Section on Growth and Obesity at the NIH Clinical Center. Following graduation, Nicole will be working full-time at the NIH as the new Clinical Research Coordinator for the Children’s Growth Study—a fifteen-year longitudinal clinical trial assessing the metabolic, psychosocial, and genetic factors related to childhood obesity. During her time at Maryland, Nicole has won several awards, including the Undergraduate Scholar Award, Doris Sands Scholarship, and Joseph M. Mitchell Memorial Scholarship. She is a member of the prestigious Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society and has made the Dean’s List every semester. Nicole’s campus involvement includes service as a Resident Assistant; Orientation Advisor; Group Fitness Instructor; HEALTH Works Peer Educator; and Peer Counselor at the Help Center, the University’s peer counseling and crisis intervention hotline.

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AARON SHAPIRO

B.S. Global Health
Minor: International Development and Conflict Management
University Honors Program
Magna Cum Laude
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Muhiuddin Haider, School of Public Health

Aaron is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Global Health with a focus on the social determinants of health. He will also be graduating with a minor in International Development and Conflict Management. Aaron’s senior thesis is titled “A Call for Increased Investment in Evidence-Based Research for Sexual Violence Policies in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Aaron is the Administrative Director of the Help Center, UMD’s peer counseling and crisis intervention hotline, where he also co-founded a peer education program to teach university students about mental health and suicide prevention. Additionally, Aaron founded Hamsa, a student group that works to combat homophobia in the Jewish community. Currently, Aaron works in the Country Strategy and Implementation Office of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Food Security on the Feed the Future Initiative. Previously, Aaron has interned with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition in Washington, D.C.; with the Social Justice Coalition in Cape Town, South Africa; and with St. Lucia Hospice and Orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania. Aaron has been named a University Medal finalist, a Truman Scholarship finalist, a Kirwan Award winner, and a Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar. Aaron is graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a citation from the University Honors Program and as a member of Omicron Delta Kappa.


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Individual Studies Program  Campus Location: 2407 Marie Mount Hall
Appointments: 301.314.0023  Email: individualstudies@umd.edu
IVSP is a degree granting academic program of the Office of Undergraduate Studies