Political Science Major’s Studies Bring Her to D-Day Commemoration, Dubai
For Samantha Mendence ’20, the opportunities she had at the University of New Haven enabled her to explore the world while bringing her textbooks and her research to life.
December 5, 2019
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Earlier this year, Samantha Mendence ’20 visited Normandy, France, on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, where she and her classmates took part in the commemorations that marked the milestone anniversary. On the same trip, she visited Ukraine and Italy, touring abandoned villages near the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and visiting a former Soviet missile silo.
“My favorite memory of all is of our excursion into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine,” said Mendence, a political science major. “I got to see what a post-apocalyptic world might look like, and I saw rare relics of the former USSR. On this trip, we got to see the pages of our history books come to life. I am so grateful for such an incredible opportunity.”
"On this trip, we got to see the pages of our history books come to life."Samantha Mendence ’20
Mendence’s internships, meanwhile, have enabled her to bring data to life. While interning with the corporate safety data visualization team at United Airlines, she and her fellow interns analyzed internal auditing data, identifying areas of weakness in the company’s operations and presenting their findings to management.
Another internship with the U.S. Department of State brought her to the Consulate in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. As an intern in the Consular section, she spent the semester analyzing the department’s internal visa data to identify trends in visa misuse and distinguishing characteristics of high-risk applicants from unstable nations. Her findings were presented to senior government officials and used to modify the visa application and adjudication process.
“At the University, I have learned how to present research findings, debate controversial topics, and identify institutional problems,” says Mendence, who will be among the more than 700 undergraduate and graduate students who will be awarded their degrees during the University’s Winter Commencement ceremony on December 15. “Most importantly, I have learned how to think strategically and critically about important problems in the world. My professors showed a genuine interest in helping me develop these skills, something that I think makes a critical difference in a student’s success.”
"My professors showed a genuine interest in helping me develop these skills, something that I think makes a critical difference in a student’s success."Samantha Mendence ’20
Mendence’s position at the University’s Center for Analytics enabled her to further develop her critical thinking and data analysis skills. Beginning as a data entry researcher, she eventually became a team lead, managing a cohort of more than 20 fellow student employees. Mendence, who has developed a passion for analyzing the impact of refugee resettlement programs on host nations and regional countries, plans to continue to conduct research, and she hopes her findings will make a meaningful impact.
“I want my future research to impact U.S. policymakers and decisionmakers in the area of humanitarian assistance programs to foreign nations,” she said. “I believe my research and concise data analyses of the current humanitarian programs will enable leaders to make more impactful decisions that benefit individuals and groups in high-risk areas.”