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Introducing Your Fall 2022 Student Ambassador Team

Student ambassadors
Top row (left to right) Deirdre Byrnes, Maddie Bain, Sarah Isenhour, Connor Nelson. Middle row (left to right) Soliyana Zemenfes, Kilye Hucks, Olivia Fiser. Bottom row (left to right) Geena Thomas, Dmitri Campbell, Lindsay Hazelwood, Madison Thomas, Yuanyuan Li, Brenna Wheeler. Not pictured: Samantha Aiken.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology’s Student Ambassador program is a team of undergraduate student volunteers who help with student activities, new student recruitment, Department communications (newsletter), student involvement and student mentorship through the Student Connections program. Each student in the Department is paired with a Student Ambassador from the time they enroll at NC State until graduation. Stephanie Jares, the Coordinator of Advising for the Department of Sociology and Anthropology is the Director of the Student Ambassador Team.  The Team was founded by Ms. Jares in February of 2020 and currently, there are 14 Student Ambassadors on the Team. In the Spring of 2022, the Student Ambassador Team was nominated for the NC State Chancellor’s Creating Community Award. 

Student ambassadors receive special recognition during graduation — an honor cord to thank them for their hard work and dedication to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. 

Students may apply to be a student ambassador if they have completed at least one semester at NC State and at least one semester in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, have an overall and major GPA of 2.0 and have a letter of recommendation from a current student ambassador or instructor in the department.

Meet the Student Ambassadors for Fall 2022!

Returning Ambassadors

Samantha Aiken

Samantha Aiken

Hello! My name is Samantha and I’m a senior majoring in Anthropology and Microbiology with minors in Forensic Science and Global Health.

I’m from Stedman, NC, and I’ve been an ambassador since 2020. My favorite part of being an ambassador is being able to share my story with others in the hopes that no one feels alone in what they are going through during their time at NC State! I’m currently the president of the Rural Health Outreach Club here on campus, and I’m very passionate about health issues faced by rural areas in North Carolina. After I graduate, I hope to potentially go into the public health field so that I can better advocate for rural North Carolinians! When it comes to anthropology, my favorite field is cultural anthropology because I love to learn about folklore from around the world, especially folklore with a paranormal element to it. I’m a ghost hunter by hobby and a ghost tour guide by profession. Some of my other hobbies include hanging out with my 6-month-old kitten, baking, and traveling. I’ve only been able to visit 11 US states, but I studied abroad in Poznan, Poland in 2019 and got to travel to Prague, Budapest, and Rome. So far, I’ve had the privilege of visiting three continents (North America, South America, and Europe), and my ultimate dream travel destination is Antarctica! A fun fact about me is that I played the viola for 8 years, and during that time I also was able to learn to play the violin and cello. One of the proudest moments from my time as a musician was being able to play the triangle at one of my orchestral concerts as it was simply the definition of rock and roll.

I look forward to continuing my time as a student ambassador for the department, and hope that the ambassador team makes your time at NC State better!

Maddie Bain

headshot of Maddie Bain

Hi, I’m Maddie Bain and I am a junior. I am a criminology major and a forensic science and psychology double minor.

I am also the president of the Outdoor Rock Climbing Club at NC State. I’m from Matthews, North Carolina, just right outside of Charlotte. For the last two years, I am happy to call Raleigh home. In my free time, I love going outside to hike and/or climb. I also love taking advantage of the climbing wall at the Wellness and Recreation Center and going to Triangle Rock Club. I try to get out and explore new parts of Raleigh and the local area and take trips to Barnes and Noble to find a new book. I also spend time with my friends as much as possible and try my best to take the best BeReals. I also love climbing trees and I am a huge Marvel fan.

I chose NC State because of the beautiful campus, accessibility to the city, and most importantly (also very clique) I fell in love with everything this University has to offer me. Even though I had a rough start because I came in during the pandemic, being back on campus has been so fulfilling and exciting. NC State has also exposed me to so many new opportunities within my major and out of my comfort zone. I have been able to get an internship at a law firm and join the Criminology Club. I was introduced to rock climbing and now work at the Rock Climbing Wall at the Wellness and Recreation center. I also work as an assistant trip leader and get the chance to expose others to the outdoors. I am so excited to be rejoining the Department of Sociology and Anthropology Student Ambassadors for the Fall 2022 semester.

Deirdre Byrnes

Deirdre Byrnes

Hello everyone! My name is Deirdre Byrnes and I am a senior here at NC State. I am pursuing a double-major in both criminology and psychology with a minor in forensics and Middle East Studies!

I am originally from Long Island, New York, but have lived in Wilmington, NC for a while now. Growing up, my dad was a member of the NYPD so I have always been interested in criminal justice, law, and forensic science. I originally applied to NC State as a criminology major, however, before my freshman orientation actually switched into the Exploratory Studies Program. Everything really does happen for a reason because through the Exploratory Studies Program, I was able to find my other passion and love for the study of psychology. I am especially interested in the huge overlap this field has within criminal justice and criminology altogether, specifically in regards to psychopathology and crime prevention. During my free time I also work at an indoor rock climbing facility, as well as love to hike or spend time outdoors! I chose NC State because of all the amazing opportunities this school has to offer, especially within this field of study. I also loved the location of Raleigh and decided it was the perfect distance away from home. I am so excited to spend my last semester here at NC State doing what I love, helping other students, and working as an Ambassador in our department!

As a senior, I have been given the amazing opportunity to work with this Ambassador Program, the Criminology and Criminal Justice Club, as well as have been a member of a Co-Ed Service Fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega). Additionally, I am also a College of Humanities and Social Sciences Ambassador, and have had some amazing research opportunities as an Undergraduate Research Assistant for two separate projects here at NC State as well. I have recently been involved in a few criminal justice internships, as well as interned with CORRAL Riding Academy, a local nonprofit, last spring. I have truly loved having this opportunity to be a Student Ambassador for this Department. I have loved helping other students and getting to know them on a more personal-level, and am so thankful to have found a smaller “home” in this Department. I hope to one day obtain a job within counterterrorism and work within the Bureau or for Homeland Security. I am forever grateful for NC State, the friendships I have made, the opportunities I have been given, as well as this amazing Department. I am so excited to see what else I can do during my last semester here! GO PACK!!

Dmitri Campbell

headshot of Dimitri Campbell

My name is Dmitri Campbell (he/it/they), I am a junior and anthropology major from Raleigh, as well as a transfer student— having arrived here in the fall of 2020.

Some of my hobbies include costuming and makeup, writing, and wildlife observation. I am a lover of animals, and my boyfriend and I currently own two snakes (a western hognose and a Kenyan sand boa) as well as a fluffy black cat named Stanley. Anthropology as a discipline has always fascinated me— I’ve always loved studying the connections and variations in human culture, and my experience in CHASS has continued to foster my love for my major. The faculty, students, courses, and opportunities within the anthropology/sociology department continue to fuel my passion. I chose NC State for a multitude of reasons— but the most prominent reason has to be the community. Initially I was nervous about my transition from a small, private university to a school boasting over 30,000 students. However, the larger student body has provided a great opportunity for meeting others both like and different from me, something that has enriched my experience. I have loved working as a student ambassador for the department, especially with the student connections program. I love being able to share advice and experiences with my fellow students, and nothing brightens my day more than when I am able to start a conversation! 

One of my favorite experiences has been assisting the incoming freshmen and transfer students over the summer— as well as students participating in new student orientation. It’s a great feeling to be able to hopefully make new students feel a little less alone on campus. Writing and reading the newsletter is another favorite of mine— the varying articles and subjects found within, be it interviews or advice, really connect me with the goings-on within the department. I am so excited to once more be participating in the program— and I look forward to what the year has in store!

Sarah Isenhour

headshot of Sarah Isenhour

Hi everyone! My name is Sarah Isenhour, and I’m a junior double majoring in Criminology and Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Science.

I was born in Dover, New Hampshire, but I’ve lived here in North Carolina for most of my life. In my free time, I love reading fantasy and science-fiction novels, watching hockey (I’m a huge Rangers fan!), spending time with friends, thrifting, and crafting.

NC State has been my dream school since junior year of high school, and I’m so thankful to be here! I wanted to go to a big school in/near a city with amazing academic programs and opportunities for involvement, and NC State checked every box for me, even before I visited campus. I’ll never forget how seeing Talley made me feel when I drove up to Raleigh to tour; I was totally in awe, and I immediately felt like I had found where I was supposed to be. Those feelings only grew as I saw more of campus! I knew I wanted to get involved in everything I could, so I joined the Student Ambassador team to help students like me that were looking into changing their major (I was originally only a Psychology major) and would benefit from hearing someone else’s experience. Aside from being a Student Ambassador, I also have a federal work-study job on campus and am secretary of the Anthropology Club!

My favorite part of being a Student Ambassador is getting to interact with students in a variety of ways. Whether I’m sending emails to my Student Connections group or helping out with an in-person event, I’m always having fun! I love chatting with students about my experience in the department, talking about all the fun stuff we have going on, and helping them with anything they may need. I’m so pleased with the work I’ve been able to do so far, and I can’t wait to keep going!

Yuanyuan Li

Hi everyone! My name is Yuanyuan Li and I’m a senior majoring in sociology with a minor in political science. I’m originally from Ningbo, a coastal city in east China.

I’m always entertained to see others’ expressions when they hear that I need to spend about 14 hours on flights to get here. It’s not easy to be an international student in social science. I wasn’t so sure about whether sociology was a good choice for me before I started college, but after taking various classes I can say that I’ve never regretted this choice. It is so fascinating to learn about all the things related to our society. And one significant thing I learned in my major is to care about people in our society and that what we are doing can make a difference.

It’s my last semester here as a student ambassador since I’m going to graduate this winter. I’m really lucky to be one of the student ambassadors from the beginning of the program and see what we’ve made so far. I can still remember I was afraid of talking to others and worrying about my English then. After realizing that it doesn’t help at all just listening to what others say and that the only way that can help me talk more is to talk, I decided to join the team. Being a student ambassador in our department provides me with many opportunities to share my experiences and tell them we are here. There is a word in Chinese called “yuan fen” which can refer to something close to serendipity and combined with fate and coincidence, and I would like to use this word to explain why I’m here now. Thanks for all the people I met and everything I experienced here in NC State that makes it the second home for me and GO PACK!

Geena Thomas

Geena Thomas

Hi everyone! My name is Geena Thomas, I am a junior majoring in Criminology and Minoring in Forensic Science.

 I was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up in a small town in upstate New York. In my free time I really enjoy reading, going on walks, playing with dogs and writing. Besides being a student ambassador I am also the director of diversity and inclusion as well as the t-shirt chair for my sorority Pi Beta Phi.

When I was deciding my major, it was no question that I wanted to go into Criminology. Ever since I was younger, I have always been interested in mysteries. For as long as I could remember, I used to do riddles and word searches with my grandfather, and when I was old enough, this evolved into watching forensic files and many other crime shows. When I was deciding which college to go to, I was hoping someone could tell me the right decision. I applied to a variety of colleges, and most were out of state. I knew that to grow as a person I needed to get away from my hometown. Once I visited NC state, I immediately felt at home. I also was followed by a yellow butterfly throughout campus, and this was a direct sign from my grandpa that I belonged here, and I could not be happier with my choice! I cannot wait to share my experiences through the student ambassador team and am so grateful for the opportunity to do so!

New Ambassadors

Olivia Fiser

Olivia Fiser

My name is Olivia Fiser and I am a Junior here at NC State! I am currently a double major in Anthropology and History with plans to become a professional archaeologist and research early Antiquity and its undeniable impact on western society.

Something about me that I love is how I am always busy! Juggling work, school, and friends, I always have something on my plate any day of the week. I chose NC State the second that I visited the campus. I knew I belonged here and still feel that way four years later. I CODA’d into the anthropology program after taking a few beginning level anthropology courses and instantly becoming hooked. Several courses that I have taken here have been defining factors in my passion and drive for archaeology with several professors helping to build this foundation of who I have become academically. These courses have included Human Osteology, Intro to Archaeology, and the study abroad program on the Methods of Archaeology. 

Next summer I hope to gain more archaeological experience, here in North Carolina or out in Italy, and better refine the skills I have learned from NC State. NC State can offer a diverse range of opportunities and every once in a while I thank my mom for bringing me on the tour that changed the trajectory of my life. My path is not fully set in stone, but here at NC State that path is being paved as I type. A little more about me personally, I am a vegetarian with an immense love of Taco Bell, Criminal Minds, and cats. I spend most of my paycheck either on shoes, food, or random amazon finds, which I later will realize I don’t actually need. I am currently getting into hiking and hope to one day become a super cool survivalist. With that being said, I truly hope that everyone that comes to NC State finds their home, whether it be with friends or your program, and always know there are people here to help guide you.

Lindsay Hazelwood

Hello, everyone! My name is Lindsay Hazelwood and I am a junior double majoring in criminology and psychology, as well as minoring in forensic science.

I am originally from Asheboro, which is where the North Carolina Zoo is located, for reference. In addition to serving as a student ambassador for the Sociology and Anthropology Department, I also serve in the same position for CHASS, am the Vice President of BridgeUSA at NC State, am a member of Student Government (Athletics Department), and am a regular member of Cru. In my free time on-campus, I enjoy being active outdoors, spending time in nature, spending time with my friends and family, attending Bible studies through my church, and going to the gym!

Even though I started my freshman year off as a die-hard Tarheel fan, NC State has quickly become a sanctuary away from home. With an amazing faculty, modern facilities, a plethora of opportunities for involvement, and countless platforms to form connections on, I knew that NC State would be a perfect fit for me and my educational pursuits. I originally chose State because of its wonderful criminology program, which most colleges do not offer, but also because of its prestige and reputation. Choosing State, for me, meant choosing a pathway lined with opportunities to learn relevant information, get involved with clubs that interest me, thrive in a community of fellow scholars, cheer for well-known and highly-regarded sports teams, have access to some of the top research facilities in the state, and prepare for the “real world” that everyone has been talking about since we were kids.

Needless to say, I cannot wait to begin my first semester as a student ambassador for the sociology and anthropology department this Fall! NC State has time and time again served me well, and I cannot wait to share my knowledge, experience, and resources with those around me!

Kilye Hucks

Kilye Hucks

Hello everyone! My name is Kilye Hucks and I am from Ottumwa, IA. I chose NC State because of its nationally praised criminology program and the fact that it was placed within a city with such vast opportunities.

Coming from such a small town, I was excited to be in a city that was big enough to watch my passions grow and thrive. I decided on criminology as my major because I have such a strong passion for the idea of criminal justice reform, especially after the events of 2020. My dad is a retired officer, so growing up with the influence of his work also drove me into the field of criminology. At NC State, I participate in Mock Trial and am a very active member within the student senate and various committees. Advocacy and being informed are both very important parts of my student experience. Being a student ambassador is important to me because I have the opportunity to help new students in the same situation I was in not too long ago. Moving away from the town where you are familiar with everything to a huge city in the south is a cultural shock and can be intimidating, so I am glad to be the voice of reason and advice to those who are experiencing issues with the transition. I also thrive in roles of leadership and think the role of student ambassador will give me chances to expand the way I see and do leadership.

Connor Nelson

Connor Nelson

My name is Connor Nelson, and I’m a junior here at NC State majoring in Criminology and minoring in Forensic Science.

I’m originally from Holly Springs, NC which is only 30 minutes away from our beautiful town of Raleigh. I’ve lived in Holly Springs for most of my life, so I’m familiar with the surrounding area of Cary, Apex, and Raleigh. I love stand up paddle boarding, wake surfing, or any outdoor water activity. I also enjoy watching and analyzing movies. My reason for attending NC State was due in part to the close proximity to the city I grew up in and the opportunities for me here. What drew me to this institution was the campus and the exploratory studies program from students unsure of what to major in. The amazing exploratory studies program here allowed me to explore various subjects such as chemistry, english, and criminology. 

Eventually, my experiences interviewing SBI agents and taking classes such as SOC 306 (Criminology) led me to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Since my declaration of major I have taken some of the interesting and thought-provoking classes. Like other students, I struggled with finding ways to engage with the community and take advantage of all the numerous opportunities NC State provides. I found the engagement I was looking for in the Criminology club and became a Student Ambassador in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. To be surrounded by my peers who share the same career goals, interests, and passions as me promotes me to work harder. Also, to hear from individuals who have worked in careers I dream of helped me determine my own career goals. Eventually, my goal is to pursue law school after I graduate from NC State and pursue a career in law. I am so excited to be a Student Ambassador this year for any and all students that need any advice, recommendations, or opinions.

Madison Thomas

Madison Thomas

Hello! I’m Madison Thomas, a junior majoring in Criminology and minoring in Law and Justice!

From a young age, I always viewed NC State as my dream school, and after watching my brother walk across the Reynolds Coliseum stage in 2019, my choice was confirmed. I have always admired the beautiful campus, the strong sense of community, and the support for the Wolfpack at every sporting event. My experience at NC State started in 2020 when I received my acceptance letter as a Spring Connect Student, however, due to the effects of COVID-19, I was unable to start my journey on campus until my sophomore year in the Fall of 2021. Since experiencing campus life, I know and love NC State and all it has to offer! Coming from the small town of Richlands, North Carolina, I was initially intimidated by the large campus and the unlimited opportunities that awaited me. However, over time I made new connections and found myself looking for ways to become involved in our Wolfpack community. I have participated in the 1887 Fellows Program and the Honors and Scholars Program, and I have had an on-campus job working at the Howling Cow Dairy Education Center and Creamery!

I am excited to be a new student ambassador for the Department of Sociology and Anthropology! Being part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences has made my experience at NC State incredible with friendly advisors, instructors, and many wonderful fellow students I have met! This opportunity has allowed me to connect with my peers and help them navigate their way through college as efficiently as possible. When I was a new student on campus, I looked for all the help I could get and greatly appreciated all the events, social media posts, and helpful individuals who pointed me in the right direction. It is with great excitement that I am now able to be a helping hand for new, transfer, and returning students in my remaining time at NC State!

Brenna Wheeler

Brenna Wheeler

Hey everyone! My name is Brenna Wheeler and I am a sophomore here at State! I am a double major in Psychology and Criminology and am from Huntersville, NC.

I am originally from Erie, Pennsylvania so I am a big Steelers and Penguins fan in this Panthers and Hurricanes state! I came to NC State as a Psychology major and added Criminology to better my education and opportunities toward being a Criminal Psychologist. My hopes in the future are to better identify common trends in childhood and adulthood that lead people to become involved in crime and hopefully be able to create a better system for interviewing and documenting these trends nationwide. In my free time, I enjoy playing guitar, painting, listening to music, and talking to/spending time with my friends and family.

I chose NC State in part because of the amazing Criminology program here, but also because my older brother graduated from State in 2019. He always had great things to say about his time here and so many memories to share and I wanted to experience all of what he spoke about to me so I made my decision in April of 2021 and I’ve been grateful for that decision ever since. I have loved a lot about State including the football games and tailgates, the random events planned that are such a nice surprise, and the amazing faculty I’ve gotten to interact with. I have met amazing people here and have been able to get closer with friends from back at home who came here too! NC State also has a way of giving you a home away from home. I’ve met so many great alumni, even traveling out of the state who always love to talk about their time here and ask how you’ve been liking it. NC State is truly one of a kind. I feel beyond blessed to be a part of the Student Ambassadors Program and to share my experiences and insight with so many fellow students through my involvement with the team.

Soliyana Zemenfes

Soliyana Zemenfes

Hi! My name is Soliyana Zemenfes and this is my first semester as a Student Ambassador for the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. I’m a senior double majoring in Spanish and Criminology, with a minor in Political Science.

After graduation, I hope to either work for an international law enforcement organization or teach abroad (hopefully in a Spanish-speaking country). Because of my interest in these fields, NC State was the university best suited for me and my career aspirations. NC State offers great internship opportunities for Criminology majors and also has many study abroad options for students studying Spanish.

NC State gives so much to its students and really works to equip us with everything we need to succeed in the future. I recently took advantage of the great study abroad options the university offers and had the chance to spend 5 months in Viña del Mar, Chile. I was able to attend the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez and take courses that all counted towards my degree. I was fortunate enough to stay with the most amazing Chilean family (and speak with them several times a week) and meet the most incredible people from around the world. My time in Chile was hands down the best time of my life and it’s all thanks to NC State and my amazing advisors that worked with me.

As a Student Ambassador for the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology, I’m excited to meet new and returning students that are in the department! I look forward to planning and hosting fun events with my peers and working to further build a community within the department. I hope we’re able to host events that are interesting and helpful to those in the department and that they would like to attend. All in all, hoping for a great first year of being a Student Ambassador!