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Eastern Student Sabreena Croteau Presents Research Posters in Washington, D.C.

Published on April 29, 2016

Eastern Student Sabreena Croteau Presents Research Posters in Washington, D.C.

Eastern student Sabreena Croteau ’16, a double major in Political Science and History, recently presented her undergraduate research project at the prestigious Council on Undergraduate Research’s (CUR) Posters on the Hill event in Washington, D.C. Croteau, who grew up in North Kingstown, RI, is also a sociology minor.

Each spring, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) hosts its annual undergraduate poster session on Capitol Hill. CUR works to ensure that members of Congress have a clear understanding of the research and education programs that they fund. Approximately 60 students out of a pool of 600 applicants from all over the country are selected on a competitive basis to present their research posters to members of Congress and other invited guests.

Croteau’s faculty mentor for her research project, “Democratic Elections in the American States: A Case for Reform,” is Political Science Professor Bill Salka. She initiated work on the project in Salka’s Quantitative Research Methods course during the spring 2015 semester, but according to Croteau, the depth of her research required more time and effort than one semester allowed. She decided to continue her work with Salka via an independent study during the fall 2015 semester.

“By doing that, I knew I could take the research farther,” said Croteau. “The research looks at the system of state legislative primary elections in the state of Washington, which uses a top-two primary system. Only one other state utilizes this form of primary. I wanted to see if their system, which selects the two candidates most favored by the electorate regardless of party affiliation, goes on to the general election. The theory is that this takes power in the election and gives it back to the voters, thus enhancing the democratic process. As this had been recently instituted in that state, I was able to compare electoral competition before and after to see whether the change produced more competitive elections,” added Croteau.

According to Carlos Escoto, professor of psychology and coordinator of undergraduate research and creative activity at Eastern, “I think it is important to note that dating back to 2005, no other Connecticut public university has been represented at Posters on the Hill. During that period, Eastern students have been selected to present five times out of the past 10 years.”

“Sabreena is the model liberal arts student and honors scholar,” said Salka. “One of the many aspects that makes her stand out is her relentless pursuit of additional opportunities to enhance her education. She has conducted independent research with a number of faculty and has sought out numerous opportunities to study abroad, including a semester in Paris, a travel course in the Middle East and volunteer work with a missionary family in Honduras. From her first day on campus, it has been clear that Bree is not content to simply take the courses required to graduate. Instead, she is constantly searching for new opportunities to build on her coursework and connect it to the real world, which makes her the ideal liberal arts student.”
About being selected for Posters on the Hill, Croteau said, “It was certainly a surprise and I’m very excited and grateful for this opportunity. I’m proud to be able to represent Eastern and the state of Connecticut at the event.”

“After graduating in May, I plan to take a gap year. After that, I definitely want to go to graduate school. I’m interested in getting a master’s degree in International Relations and Comparative Politics, as those are the areas within both my majors that I have the most interest. I have a few ideas about what I would like to do when I finish my education – I may try to work for the government in foreign affairs or an international non-governmental organization. As a result of my recent research, studying for a Ph.D. and working in academia are also on the table,” said Croteau.

Croteau is a student worker in the Office of Continuing Studies and often assists with tasks for Eastern’s Study Abroad Office. Croteau was a study abroad student herself, having studied in Paris during the spring 2014 semester. She also participated in a Global Field Course to Israel and Jordan, was a peer mentor and participates in the International Student Association and Eastern’s Honors Club.

Croteau added, “I think that the advantage of going to Eastern is the sheer amount of opportunities Eastern creates for its students and the interest that the faculty here take in the success of their students. I don’t think you necessarily get that at other universities and I think that it’s an atmosphere that Eastern, as an institution, has worked hard to create. I’m very grateful to all of the faculty and staff who I’ve worked with along the way, who have encouraged me and have gone out of their way to help me.”

Written by Anne Pappalardo