Sarah Fiordaliso ’16

As a scientist, I don’t want to look at my work too narrowly; I want to be informed about the context of what I study.

Sarah's Journey

What was your conference project?

I examined the biological, political, and economic factors surrounding the Saw Mill River daylighting project in Yonkers [the restoration of rivers that have been covered up with concrete]. I looked at whether or not the level of Enterococcus bacteria changes when the river is underground versus when it’s exposed to daylight.

As a scientist, I don’t want to look at my work too narrowly; I want to be informed about the context of what I study. So I also considered the politics and economics of the area.

How did faculty support you?

Michelle Hersh (biology) and I met every week. It was a lot of fun, like a mini graduate thesis project. We planned experiments, we talked about supplies I needed, how things were going, any new research or literature I’d found. Michelle wants us to co-publish our work. She’s always looking at the next step.

What have you learned from your conference work?

That you can have an idea that you find personally very interesting and go in-depth to discover more about it. That’s the most meaningful work!

I’ve also definitely learned how to write better. Every professor in every class—in every discipline at Sarah Lawrence—critiques your writing. No one is ever letting you off the hook about that.

Which clubs or extracurricular activities did you participate in?

Sarah Fiordaliso '16During my first year, I tutored at Iglesias de San Andres in Yonkers every week. I wanted to continue with this, so I joined the Health & Science Afterschool Program, which prepares science-related lessons for children at San Andres. During my senior year, I co-chaired the program. I was also a leader for the Alternative Spring Break program working with Habitat for Humanity. During the fall, I play on the Women’s Tennis team. I also sing in the school’s Chamber Choir, as well as with the Village Lutheran Church choir in Bronxville. I also co-chaired the Et Cetera chapter of the Sarah Lawrence Activities Council, which plans homegrown student life events ranging from karaoke to cookies, tea, and nap time! I was also a senior interviewer for the Office of Admission.

What was your study abroad experience like?

Sarah Fiordalso '16I participated in the Sub-Saharan Africa program where we did 15-20 hours of fieldwork in Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. It's hard to even understand how much of an impact studying abroad in Sub-Saharan Africa had on my college experience and my life in general. I don't think a day passes where I'm not thinking about some aspect of my trip, and it has been about two years since I went. Being able to study human development in Sun-Saharan Africa while physically living in the region and interacting with its people created an unparalleled learning experience. In addition, the community-based work aspect of the trip allowed us to experience firsthand the difficulties and successes of NGOs in the region. By working with one organization in each country (Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe), we could understand the various ways people are working to combat the orphan crisis in the region and witness firsthand the incredible work that's being done. And all of this is in addition to the beautiful African landscapes; nothing can even come close to an African sky, or the millions of stars it holds. I unexpectedly befriended people that will always be in my heart, and am thankful a thousand times over for this opportunity. I'd go back in a heartbeat!

What role did your don play in your time at Sarah Lawrence?

Every don-donnee relationship is extremely different, but I can confidently say that my experience at Sarah Lawrence wouldn't have been half as amazing without my don, Kim Ferguson (psychology). She is an incredible, dedicated, thoughtful person and a professor who gives her students all she has and more. Kim embodies the ideals of a Sarah Lawrence education, leading classroom discussions where she provides guidance and structure while allowing students to discuss and take ownership over their own thoughts and ideas. Kim's first-year studies course, "Child/Adolescent Development in North American and African Contexts: Opportunities and Inequalities" (a classic Sarah Lawrence course name) introduced me to community-based work that I'd continue throughout all four years, and sparked my interest in the Sub-Saharan Africa program that she would run a couple years later. Any time I needed advice, Kim was there. She guided my Sarah Lawrence experience without judgment and I truly believe Sarah Lawrence is very lucky to have her.