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Congratulations to the Fall 2023 Phi Beta Kappa Inductees

In the Fall 2023 semester, several Government Department students were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Honor Alpha Society. The Alpha Chapter of Virginia was founded in 1776 and is the nation’s oldest and largest academic honor society. Please congratulate the following students:
Dylan Abrokwa-Jassor, Caleb Fulford, Mujia (Ariana) He, Sa’nia Heckstall, Andrew Hoffman, Johanna Pellegrino, Daniel Posthumus, Aaron Tavel, Alison Trahan, Cecilia Weaver, Amy Weitzman, and Jonathan Wilkins.

These students should be commended for their outstanding academic achievements and unique contributions to their community.

Dylan Abrokwa-Jassor ‘24 is a double major in Government and Business Analytics with interests in criminal justice, constitutional law, and the courts. More recently, he has been interested in the part that data science and machine learning play in creating sustainable and equitable solutions to criminal justice issues. Two of his favorite classes are "Courts & the Politics of Criminal Justice" and "Equal Protection of the Law," taught by Professor Nemacheck and Professor Sasser, respectively. Currently he is not engaging in any research as it's his last semester, but in past years he has conducted juvenile justice research under Professor Vivian Hamilton at the Law School and has also self-led a policy campaign as an intern at the Immigration Clinic at William & Mary's Law School. Outside of school, he has interned at the D.C. Public Defender's Service as a Special Litigation intern and the Alliance for Justice as a nonprofit Justice intern helping promote diverse and progressive judges to various state and federal benches.

 Caleb Fulford’s ‘24 scholarship, coursework, and extracurricular activities focus on the nexus between constitutional law and social politics. Caleb successfully defended his honors thesis, "Roads Less Traveled: Abortion, Interstate Commerce, and the Post-Dobbs Politics of Travel," under the supervision of Professor Nemacheck. His thesis analyzed the constitutional standards litigators must apply should an abortion travel case reach the Supreme Court. Fulford’s academic interests are influenced by his course work with Government Professors Howard and McKinney. Fulford also co-lead the W&M Undergraduate Moot Court, and recently advanced to the quarterfinals of the Empire State Regional at Albany Law School for his work on the right to privacy. During his spring 2023 semester at the W&M Washington Center, Fulford interned for Congressman Glenn Ivey of Maryland. He also continued his virtual federal student service with the United States Department of Education as a Content Management Editor in the Office of Federal Aid. This spring semester, Fulford began working for the office of Virginia House of Delegates Appropriations Chair, Luke Torian. Fulford holds the Judge James Leftwich Scholarship, the Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association Foundation Scholarship, the Patrice and James Comey Fellowship, and is a member of the W&M Legal Scholars Program.

 An Economics and Government major, Ariana He ‘24, utilizes an economic approach to examine U.S. domestic welfare policies and the social safety net. Professor Howard’s “Future of U. S. Policy” course made an impact on He’s research interests. Currently, she is pursuing independent research with Professor Howard through the Public Policy program. He is studying beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. Her research focuses on individuals who have dual public health insurance –Medicaid and Medicare. Dual eligible beneficiaries are poor, elderly, or disabled, and they represent an extremely vulnerable population in the country. He researches the characteristics of this group, including their gender, race, and income to gain a better understanding of who they are and the difference between them and the Medicare beneficiaries regarding their physical and mental health conditions, access to health care, satisfaction with health care, preventive care, and assistance on their day-to-day life. Furthermore, she also focuses on approaches that target these concerns, such as policies to address administrative difficulties, cut costs, and assist folks in navigating both systems.

Currently, Sa'nia Heckstall ‘24 is a Government Department Diversity Fellow and is committed to carrying out DEI initiatives. Her main research interest is what factors influence White Americans' political behavior and, more specifically, how increasing diversity and the emphasis on the importance of diversity influence vote choice. Last fall, Heckstall collaborated with Professor Israel-Trummel to analyze survey data to explore a correlation between opposition to critical race theory and voting choice. Heckstall’s data was generated by an exit-poll survey administered during the most recent Williamsburg election. These findings were compared to a larger national survey. Heckstall presented the results at the Charles Center Research Symposium last fall.

Andrew Hoffman ‘24 is a Senior from Chicago majoring in Government and Public Policy whose research has focused specifically on Congress and American government. He previously interned in the U.S. Senate and at the Brookings Institution. He is also working with Professor Larry Evans on ongoing projects related to counter-majoritarianism in the Senate and bicameralism. He is currently conducting research for an honors thesis on malapportionment and anti-democratic outcomes across the full history of the House of Representatives, for which he was awarded a grant from the Charles Center.

Daniel Posthumous ‘24 is interested in human rights, political economy, and legislative politics. Two classes that made a profound impression on him were International Political Economy with Professor Maliniak and Democracy and Autocracy in Southeast Asia with Professor Harish. The former class introduced him to the intersection of government and economy, as well as economic history, a topic that still fascinates him today and would be his ideal area of study as an economist in the future. The latter class was his senior seminar. He loved the opportunity to delve into a region of the world he had traveled throughout as a child (he grew up for 12 years in Japan). Lastly, he is a Research Fellow with the International Justice Lab (IJL) with Professor Kelebogile Zvobgo—there he is focusing on Truth Commissions here in the United States, a novel area of research. He co-authored a published article with Dr. Zvobgo, "Democratizing Truth", and he is currently working on another collaborative paper, "Proposing Truth".

Aaron Tavel ‘24 enrolled in his first Government course at the College, “Introduction to International Politics” with Professor Smith in the fall of 2020. Despite the class being online, he became thoroughly engrossed in international politics. Over his four years at William & Mary, he was fortunate to enroll in courses such as International Security, Politics of Eastern Europe, and other specialized seminars that were both stimulating and intellectually challenging. His only regret is that he did not have more time to take further captivating Government courses. Additionally, he had the privilege of serving as a research assistant at the Ignite Lab. Under the mentorship of Professor Odhiambo, he made contributions to a published research paper and an opinion editorial. Their research focused on Chinese financing for health projects in Africa. Despite lacking a background in global health, he was able to provide a unique perspective as a Government student. While Professor Odhiambo taught him much about the health aspects of their work, he offered fresh political insights into China and the United States, as well as other aspects of international relations.

Alison Trahan ‘24 is a Government and Public Policy double major, with a general focus on health policy and political behavior. During her final semester here at William & Mary, Trahan is both interning in Delegate Rae Cousins’s (a distinguished William & Mary alumna) office and completing her honors thesis under the advisement of Professor Israel-Trummel. Her honors thesis is based on a project she completed in her senior seminar on the social and psychological influences on behavior, and it explores the effects of framing disputes generated by non-movement leaders on social media on the way people interact with social movement organizations.

Cecelia Weaver ‘24 is studying Government and History. Her interests are in Political Theory as well as US Government and History. While her activities and research focus more on history and public history, such as working in Special Collections at Swem and writing an honors thesis in History, she feels that having a government background has given her valuable context for her work in these environments. She also felt impacted by a class on reproductive justice with Professor McKinney.

Amy Weitzman ‘24 is a Government major with a History minor. Within Government, she is most interested in Latin American politics and political theory. A class that made an impression on her was Professor Lombardini's Global Political Theory Project, which provided her and a group of peers with the opportunity to develop a blog and write articles about non-Western political theory. Her research focused on indigenismo and dependency theory. Outside of Government, she is writing her honors thesis in History about early U.S. political journalism, and she participates in two history labs producing databases about early American newspapers.

WMSURE and Monroe Scholar, Jonathan Wilkins ‘24, is studying Government and History. After graduation he plans to teach middle school. Wilkins’ campus activities include the Innocence Club, a club concerned with criminal justice issues in America, and the Merrimac Mentors, a group that volunteers at the Merrimac Juvenile Detention Center. Wilkins also is a Government Department Diversity Fellow. Currently, Wilkins is working on an honors thesis that explores how juvenile incarceration influences thoughts and behaviors towards political behavior in later life. His primary interest is how the government influences those who are policed or imprisoned. One of Wilkins’ favorite classes was Professor Nemacheck's "Courts and Politics of Criminal Justice." The course explored how criminal justice shapes politics and the courts and vice versa and expanded Wilkins’ knowledge of criminal justice policy, while also motivating him to advocate for productive carceral reform in the future.