Summer Scholar Research Highlights

by Kristal Mainsah on September 12, 2019

Stephanie Zemba ’21

Major: Sociology

Title:Social Isolation Among Aging Immigrants

Abstract: Health consequences of social isolation are well-documented. Older immigrants are particularly vulnerable to social isolation due to the stresses associated with aging in a foreign country. The projected increase in foreign-born elders makes social isolation an important phenomenon to study. The proposed research will employ semi-structured interviews to explore whether and how social isolation is experienced by immigrant elders in the Roanoke Valley. Investigating social isolation among immigrant elders who live in an area where their ethnic group is underrepresented will provide a greater understanding of the challenges these elders face and potentially help local organizations address their needs.

Something about the scholar: Stephanie is a junior at Roanoke College, majoring in sociology. She was born and raised in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Through the Research Fellows program and an independent study course, Steph is involved with two ongoing research projects in the Sociology department on interfaith dating and nondrinking students. She is a member of the French and Culture Shock clubs on campus, and her hobbies include creative writing, reading, and painting. Her friends like to joke that if you can’t find Steph in the library, you’ll find her attending office hours. Steph’s future plans include attending graduate school, earning a PhD in sociology, and becoming a college professor.

Nathaniel Willis ’20

Major: History, Political Science

Title: Religion and Politics in the Middle East: A Comparative Study of Christian Communities in Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel

Abstract: The relationship between religion and state is an important component of the political dynamic of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, and while Islam is the predominate religion in these areas, Christian Minorities play a notable role in the region. These communities include the Coptic Christians of Egypt, Maronite Christians of Lebanon, and the numerous Christian churches in Israel and Palestine. This study is a comparative analysis of how each community directly and indirectly participates in the political and civil service apparatuses of their respective countries.

Something about the scholar: Nathaniel is a senior from Bedford, Virginia and is a History and Political Science double major. His primary interest of study is the intersection of religion with the fields of politics and history, which is an interest likely influenced by his parents, one of whom is a professor of religious studies at Lynchburg College and the other an ordained Presbyterian minister. Nathaniel is involved in Roanoke College athletics, having participated for 3 seasons of Cross Country and 2 seasons of Track and Field. Nathaniel has spent his past three years at Roanoke working as a student assistant (churl) for the History Department, as well as spending a semester in Washington, D.C. working as an intern for the U.S. Department of State.


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