Student Impact

Our students are passionate about making a mark on the world. Through campus activism, organizing socially-minded campus events, or participating in research with faculty on real-world issues, they are constantly striving to make an impact.


Tenzin Thargay ’18 Spearheads Five College Conference for Compassionate Leadership

Professor Heintz in the classroom

Tenzin Thargay (political science) has racked up more impressive accomplishments than seem possible for a second-semester sophomore. He’s an active member of the SBS Academic Leadership Fellows Program and the recipient of two significant awards, the Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace and the Salute to Service Scholarship. In the spring of 2016, he was awarded the Council for American Ambassadors Fellowship in Washington, D.C., the first UMass Amherst student to receive this prestigious honor.

In April 2016 he ran the Five College Conference for Compassionate Leadership at UMass to teach compassionate leadership as a means of reducing conflict worldwide. The keynote speaker was Thupten Jinpa Langri, official translator for the Dalai Lama, and a panel of Five College professors from various disciplines discussed what compassion means in their fields.

“I started planning this conference in December of 2015, after reflecting on what a terrible year 2015 was,” explains Thargay. “There was so much conflict domestically and abroad, from racial issues to the refugee crisis, that I asked myself, ‘What’s missing?’ I realized what was missing: compassion—understanding the other side without making assumptions.”



Professor Razvan Sibii’s Social Justice Journalism Course Explores Issues of Immigration

Professor  Raz Sibii’s course, Social Justice Journalism, dives deep into one major issue each semester that it is offered, providing students with a profound understanding of the topic at hand. This past spring, the class delved into issues surrounding immigration, and students collaborated with MassLive to publish their work. These stories profile the journeys and experiences of documented and undocumented immigrants, covering issues such as being taken advantage of in the workforce and the detention of undocumented immigrants.

You can read the entire series on MassLive.


Stephanie Chan '17 and Timothy Marple '16 Win Rising Researcher Award

Stephanie Chan and Timothy Marple

Junior Stephanie Chan and senior Timothy Marple, both political science, are being recognized for their significant contributions to political science research. Chan and Marple received praise from their advisors for their ability to design, analyze, and administer political science research tools. “Tim has acquired quite the reputation around the department for his research chops,” says Marple’s faculty advisor Jesse Rhodes. According to Chan’s advisors Meredith Rolfe and Kevin Young, Chan has made significant contributions to multiple research projects within the department, several of which have earned her coauthorship credit.

Among their most notable accomplishments, Chan and Marple are coauthors with Professor Rolfe on the research paper “Defining Democracy: Public Understandings of ‘Democracy’” which examines the everyday ways in which Americans understand and use the term “democracy.” This research has been the subject of several academic conference papers and presentations, including the Midwest Political Science Association conference, considered one of the top conferences in the discipline. “Tim is quite possibly the single most outstanding student I have encountered during my time at UMass, with tremendous intellectual ambition, great curiosity, and remarkable energy,” says Rhodes. “Stephanie’s contributions are of such high quality that I have added her as a coauthor on a chapter to appear in the Oxford Handbook of Political Networks,” says Rolfe.