Blessing Ozioma Okoroafor

2013 Kushner Award Winner

kushner_okoroafor.jpgI am a PhD candidate in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park. My research interests include American politics, immigration and social policy, race and ethnicity and political incorporation.
My dissertation focuses on the integration of refugees through social services during resettlement, particularly focusing on three indicators of integration. Through the interviews of key service delivery agents and of refugees, my dissertation will explore refugee acculturation vis-à-vis governmental service, and in particular the ways in which health care, education and employment assistance lends to economic and social integration for refugees.

I hold both my BA and MA degrees in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Gina Watkinson

2013 Kushner Award Winner

kushner_watkinson.jpgGina Watkinson is a graduate student in American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona and the Conservation Assistant at the Arizona State Museum. Gina is interested in the preservation of material culture and cultural revitalization within indigenous communities. Her current research focuses on the persistence of Southwest Native basketry despite the disruptive change that occurred with the influx of settlers to the Southwest in the early 1900s. Today, basketweavers continue to face issues that challenge the maintenance of this traditional practice including, the inability to access material and the destruction of plant habitats. Regardless of these threats, Native weaver’s ability to retain their identity, continue their knowledge of basketry technology and plant materials, and express leadership through partnerships, demonstrates their resiliency. Gina is also concerned with issues pertaining to water management and natural resource sustainability. In the future, Gina hopes to continue to work with Native communities and basketry organizations.