Meet the Scholars

Congratulations to the following Scholars who were elected as leaders of the Scholars Steering Committee for 2013:

Co-Presidents

Cate Degen & Samantha Tyler

 

Co-VPs

Mary Beth Gadarowski & Lacey Reimer

 

Secretary

Adrianna Ratajska

 

Publicity co-chairs

Cara Slugaski & Ariella Yazdani

 

Sargent-at-arms

Henry Scherck

 

Scholars At-large

Matt Olson, Olivia Townsend

 

 

Biographies:

Cate DegenCate Degen

Class of 2014

Co-President of the Scholars Steering Committee

Hello, Scholars! My name is Cate Degen and I am a junior economics major, with minors in mathematics and German. The Scholars Program has greatly enriched my time at Union, providing me with a variety of academic and social activities, while allowing me to meet new people and take courses in a variety of areas. My first year preceptorial, titled "Literature, Ethics and the Environment" and Scholars research seminar on the intersection of art and politics, were excellent courses filled with spirited discussion and a great help in refining my writing skills. My sophomore research project - an excellent opportunity for Scholars to explore whatever hidden passion they may have, as it can truly be on any topic - focused on the economics of energy. I collected data on Union's energy usage, and with the help of the Facilities department and my advisors in the Economics department, recommended a variety of energy-efficient technologies to be implemented on campus, helping to conserve both funds and energy. I was even able to receive a grant from the Mellon Foundation to continue my research into the summer! This spring, I am studying abroad in Germany, and working on improving my German skills. In addition to being the Co-President of the Scholars Steering Committee, I am a defender on the varsity field hockey team, involved with Messa House Council and serve as a student representative on the Study Abroad Committee.  If you have any questions about academics, athletics, study abroad, the Scholars Program, or anything else at Union, feel free to contact me at degenc@garnet.union.edu   

 

Samantha TylerSamantha Tyler

Class of 2014

Co-President of the Scholars Steering Committee

As a neuroscience major on the pre-med track, much of my Union academic life is very science-focused. My experiences as a Scholar have given me opportunities to focus on my non-science interests as well. My preceptorial focused on works by the great philosophers, and my Scholars Research Seminar research was on a woman who had traveled through North America, including the area we currently call Schenectady, in the 19th century. Taught by two of the best teachers I have had at Union, these classes made me transition to a more college-level thought process and work ethic, and improved my writing skills exponentially. For my Scholars Project, I decided to teach myself to play the piano. It became the most rewarding experience I have had at Union by far.

 

Mary Beth Gadarowski

Co-Vice President

Class of 2015

Hi Scholars! My name is Mary Beth Gadarowski and I am a sophomore biology major, with a minor in religious studies here at Union! When I was first invited to become a member of the Scholars Program, I initially declined the offer. However, when I first arrived at Union in the fall, I realized that I should take advantage of such a great program Union has to offer, and to become part of such a select group! I cannot stress how glad I am that I changed my decision and how fortunate I am to say I that I am a member of the Scholars group. My First-Year Preceptorial was in the fall, followed by my Scholars Research Seminar about baseball; my SRS even involved a special trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame to conduct research for our final papers! I am currently working on my Scholars Research Project, which has entailed the ‘coding’ of the 2012 political campaign ads for appeal references on behalf of each national administration, committee and interest groups. The Scholars Program is unique in that the designated sophomore research project is not limited to your particular major; use this opportunity to explore your interests and passions! In addition to coursework, the Scholars Program invokes a sense of community between classmates through the required FYP and SRS. If you have any questions or concerns, I am more than willing to help and can be contacted at gadarowm@garnet.union.edu

 

Lacey ReimerLacey Reimer

Co-Vice President

Class of 2015

Hi! My name is Lacey Reimer and I am at sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Spanish with a Russian minor. Being a member of the Scholars Program has definitely been one of my favorite parts of being a student at Union. I really enjoyed my First-Year Preceptorial, entitled “Living (Critical) Theory” and my Scholars Research Seminar called “Generation X Goes Global.” Both classes really opened up my eyes to topics I had never thought much about and ways of thinking that never occurred to me. Furthermore, I am currently working on my Scholars Research Project, which is about the different representations of Jewish people in Latin American films. In addition to just classes, I got to go to Montreal with other Scholars and attend different events for scholars, such as etiquette dinners and interesting speakers. Perhaps my favorite part about being a Scholar is the ability to take a free 4th class each term. This not only helps with making sure I have my requirements filled, but also allows me to take more classes that I find interesting and might otherwise not get the chance to take. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at reimerl@garnet.union.edu

 

Adrianna M. Ratajska

Secretary

Class of 2016

Hi everyone! My name is Adrianna Ratajska and I am currently a freshman with a major in Neuroscience here at Union College. When I received my acceptance letter not too long ago, I had no idea that Union even had a Scholars Program. At first, I was wary of becoming a scholar. However, when I came to campus I realized just how awesome the program is! Already, my time here at Union has been made much more enhanced because of it. Every year the Scholars take a weekend trip to Montreal. Going on the trip this year was a wonderful experience that I will cherish forever. From sliding down a slide made of ice to exploring Old Montreal, the opportunities were limitless and immersing myself in a new culture and surroundings was one of my favorite memories of my first year. My preceptorial, titled “Why We Read: The Role of the Reader” and scholars research seminar titled “The Arab Spring,” were both fascinating discussion-based classes that eased my transition into college-level work. The small sizes of both classes made me feel as if I played an integral role in the stimulating conversations we engaged in on a daily basis. If you have any questions about the Scholars Program please feel free to contact me at ratajska@garnet.union.edu.

 

Cara SlugaskiCara Slugaski

Co-Chair for Publicity

Class of 2016

Deciding to attend Union College and become a part of the fantastic Scholars Program has not only opened my eyes to exciting and novel experiences, but it has also helped me grow academically, socially, and emotionally. Being a freshman can be an exhilarating yet nervous time for everybody, but being part of this program made it easy to discover my niche and the type of person I wanted to be. My first year preceptorial was taught by my favorite professor here at Union, and he encouraged my class to open our minds to new ideas and thoughts that we may have never considered before; we learned to express our opinions clearly in discussions pertaining to many aspects of life and the world. I am grateful for that class because it surrounded me with others who were similar to me, so forming connections was easy and effortless. I am also very pleased to hold a position in the Scholars Steering Committee, which plans events for the scholars and makes other important decisions regarding this program. Outside of the scholars program, I am very involved with the Campus Kitchens Project at Union, my Minerva house council, the Kenney Community Center, and I also play intramural lacrosse to stay active! Being a scholar is a rewarding experience that I would not miss out on. If you have any questions regarding anything about the Scholars Program or my involvement, please email me at slugaskc@garnet.union.edu.

 

 

Ariella YazdaniAriella Yazdani

Co-Chair for Publicity

Class of 2016

My name is Ariella Yazdani and I am a first-year neuroscience major and dance minor on the pre-med track. Even as a first-year student, I have come to really appreciate and take advantage of the Scholars Program here at Union College. A remarkable, unforgettable professor, who I was able to really connect with, taught my first year preceptorial. His lessons on the many great reads of Joyce Carol Oates and Don DeLillo were passionate and quite soul-searching which taught me more about my values and beliefs than anything. I have found that overall the professors and faculty involved in the Scholars Program and Union in general truly care for the success of their students. For example, my preceptorial teacher advised me on an important decisions regarding pre-med, for he is on the pre-med committee at Union. Further, I was able to make close connections with the ten students in my class and learn from these bright and talented scholars. I encourage all incoming students to truly consider their acceptance in The Scholars Program as an honor and come to Union ready to make wonderful connections with professors, students and faculty. I’d be happy to answer any questions about The Scholars Program, my experience thus far, or anything else, so please feel free to email me at yazdania@garnet.union.edu!

 

 

 

Henry S. ScherckHenry S. Scherck

Sargent-At-Arms

Class of 2016

 

Hello! My name is Henry Scherck and I am a first-year Political Science major. When I was accepted to Union College and the Scholars Program just over a year ago, I was excited and honored to be offered a chance to join this select group of students. I have certainly never regretted accepting that invitation! My first year here at Union has been an exciting one, especially relating to the Scholars Program. My First-Year Preceptorial was titled "Living (Critical) Theory." This seminar challenged me to think critically about theoretical concepts, and gave me the chance to apply that theory to the more practical aspects of life. Participating in this seminar offered the opportunity for dynamic discussion with other scholars, and was a great way to start my college career. Just last term, I participated in "Alexander the Great: Use and Abuse of History." This course investigated the life of one of the world’s greatest conquerors, and offered the chance analyze some of the most perennially challenging aspects of Alexander’s life. For the final project in this class, I researched Alexander’s life in relation to the intersection of substance abuse and personality disorders. I am excited to be possibly presenting my research at this year’s Steinmetz Symposium on undergraduate research. Recently, I was elected to serve as the Sargent-at-Arms of the Scholars Steering Committee. It has been exciting to work with fellow scholars planning such events as the Montreal trips and the Scholars Book Club. Please feel free to email me with any questions regarding the Scholars Program at scherckh@garnet.union.edu.

 

Matthew OlsonMatthew Olson

Class of 2015

My experience as a Union Scholar has been nothing short of remarkable.  Although I am taking a heavy dosage of science courses (as a Neuroscience major), the Scholars Program encourages and allows students to step outside their “comfort zone” and take classes that would not regularly fit in their schedule.  I have taken four classes twice in my six terms here; this allows me to experience many different disciplines and find ways to intertwine them.  My honors Preceptorial changed my way of rationally arguing, as well as justifying my opinions with valid reasoning.  It was taught by undoubtedly the most intelligent individual I have ever met in my life, and I continue to use the skills I developed in his class whenever I have an assignment due.  As a Union Scholar, I can say that the “Union experience” has been more than I could have ever envisioned prior to stepping on campus.

 

 

 

Olivia TownsendOlivia Townsend

Class of 2014

Biology major, Studio Fine Arts minor

Accepting the invitation to be part of the Union College Scholars Program was one of the best decisions of my college career. The opportunities from the program have not only enhanced my experience within my major but have also helped me become a more well-rounded student. My first-year preceptorial was titled “Genocides” where I learned about the Holocaust and genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, and Darfur, to name a few. It was a tragic, yet eye-opening topic and one of my favorite courses to this day. My sophomore research seminar was “Technology and Autism”, which involved learning about autism and actually designing a potential form of technology to help a specific symptom of the disorder. I had a lot of fun taking this course, even as someone who is definitely not technologically savvy, and designed an iPod app with games and puzzles to help children with autism read and understand emotions. My sophomore scholars project was my favorite experience as a scholar. As an opportunity to pursue essentially any topic, I decided to combine my two passions: biology and art. My project was entitled “Birds of Paradise in Illustration” and was an original collection of avian anatomical drawings and watercolor paintings of several of Papua New Guinea’s beautiful and unique Birds of Paradise. Apart from my activities of being a scholar, such as being a member of the Scholars Steering Committee and going to Montreal, I am involved with a number of other parts of campus. I am a tour guide, play intramurals, and recently studied abroad in Australia! The Scholars Program has truly made a positive impact on my time at Union, and I know it will for you too! If you have any questions about my personal experience as a scholar or anything about the program, feel free to email me at townseno@garnet.union.edu