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Angelica (Angie) DeDona

Soaring across many disciplines

Hometown: Glen Head, N.Y
Majors: Political science, English
Minors: Environmental science and policy

Angelica (Angie) DeDona was admiring the original Audubon “Birds of America” prints hanging in Schaffer Library when her mind took flight. It was Accepted Students Day, and though she had no idea where her academic path lay, she immediately got excited about the possibilities.

“I heard the tour guide talking about engineers who were arts minors, and students who were combining physics and philosophy, and other ways you were encouraged to explore different ideas,” she recalls.

This was especially appealing to Angie, since she could never be pigeonholed in high school, where she joined the swim and mock trial teams, played cello in the chamber orchestra and was active in the environmental club.

“My parents were always saying, ‘Angie, try to concentrate on one thing.’ I was happy to learn about professors who really embraced an interdisciplinary focus.”

At Union, Angie was more than ready to spread her scholarly wings.

A lifelong reader and aspiring writer, she was naturally drawn to major in English. “I was receiving credit for reading, something I’d been passionate about my whole life, and I was learning from authors I admired,” she says.

She decided to also major in political science after taking Professor Cigdam Cidam’s course in political thought, which examined centuries-old principles debated by key Western thinkers, such as democracy, leadership and citizenship.

And though busy with a double major, she added environmental science and policy as a minor, inspired by an introductory course and lab with Professor Jeffrey Corbin as well as a mini-term in Argentina.

“On the mini-term, we got to meet with environmental study specialists and ecology activists in El Calafate, a town near the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field,” she said. “Witnessing the visibly shrinking icebergs was life changing. It conveyed the urgency of global warming and pushed me to fight harder and faster for a healthy green world.”

In addition to intellectually challenging work in three disciplines, Angie counts among her academic highlights an internship in the Special Victims Unit of the Schenectady District Attorney’s Office, which she found through her contact with Clifford Brown, professor of political science.

She is particularly excited about her senior thesis in political science, which will explore the connections between immigration and climate change.

“I am arguing that those facing statelessness and homelessness at the hands of climate change should be considered as refugees until a new legal definition is created,” she says. “This is a kind of ‘environmental racism’ that is consistently overlooked by immigration researchers.” 

Last spring, she went on a term abroad in Germany, where she worked at a refugee camp, further expanding her knowledge and understanding of the refugee experience.

Not surprisingly, Angie’s extracurriculars are wide-ranging. She serves on a sustainability committee, holds a work-study job in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and is vice president of Women’s Union. She helped organize a bus ride to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and she received the 2016 President’s Commission on the Status of Women Community Service Award.

Even during vacation periods, there’s no break for Angie, who is a contributing writer for the diversity magazine ENSPIRE, covering inner city events in New York.

Thinking ahead, Angie imagines writing for a newspaper or magazine or teaching at the college level someday. She also contemplates pursuing a law degree, with a focus on human rights and immigration.

“I have so many passions that I cannot really imagine myself at one job my entire life,” she says.

She laughs when recalling her parents’ worries about her having too many interests in high school.

“I am really lucky I found a school like Union that encourages me to approach learning as an exploration that never ends,” she says. “I love the academics here. I had been worried about fitting in, but here I found all these amazing people with varied and multiple passions, just like me.”

Convergence: Jakub Kaczmarzyk,
neuroscience and music

Click play (above) or view on VIMEO