Vanessa Quince came to Binghamton University thinking she wanted to become a doctor. Instead, she is a political science and Latin America and Caribbean Area Studies double major who is also one of a dozen American Political Science Association (APSA) Minority Fellows for 2012-13.
“I’m Haitian-American and I’ve always wanted to learn about the Caribbean,” Quince said. “That’s a part of who I am.”
Quince, a 22-year-old senior from Brooklyn, earned the APSA honor for her research on how tourism affects communities (“All Work and No Pay: The Effects of Tourism on Workers’ Rights”). It is the third year in a row that a member of the University’s Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program has received an APSA fellowship. The 2012-13 fellows include two Binghamton University students – Quince and fellow senior Diane Wong.
“We know what each other has been going through,” Quince said. “We are happy for each other.
“I was excited not so much for the money, but because the APSA endorses your applications for graduate school,” Quince said of the fellowship. “I now have a greater chance of getting in somewhere.”
Quince learned of the fellowship opportunity last summer while attending the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute, a program at Duke University that simulates the graduate school experience for 20 students from across the country. The students produce research papers at the end of the program, with the top 10 going to the APSA National Conference.
Quince was selected to present her tourism research at the organization’s conference in Seattle. She used information from the World Tourism Organization to examine the years 2000-2010 in countries around the world.
“I feel like a lot of countries in the Caribbean are just known for their tourism,” she said. “A lot of literature is missing about how these communities are affected by tourism. It could be negative, such as increases in human trafficking, or positive. I learned in the Dominican Republic that a lot of resorts have contracts with people in the towns in which they will pay for education in return for workers taking part in the construction of the hotel industry.”
Quince credits David Cingranelli, political science professor, with much of her academic and research success.
“I don’t think I’d be here without him,” she said. “I took a regular class with him and he told me to apply to the McNair Scholars Program. As my mentor, he’s been very supportive. And he’s willing to learn things that I bring to the table.”
Cingranelli said he expects “great things” from Quince in the future.
“She has sought out tough courses, including graduate courses in research methods, to prepare herself for future success as a professional political scientist,” he said. “In addition to her excellent academic record and extensive research experience, Vanessa also is a very nice person. She works well with her peers and she is respected by the faculty.”
Quince serves as vice president of the Haitian Student Association and assists with JUMP Nation’s “JUMP Weekend,” in which inner-city youth visit Binghamton University and are shown college life. It is important for Quince to be a role model for her fellow students and others, she said.
“I see the girls on the e-board as my sisters and a lot of them are younger,” she said. “I want them to know that you can be a well-rounded person and do what you like. I want them to be happy with what they do. Money shouldn’t be the motivation. You can do a little bit of everything at the end of the day.”
After graduate school, Quince said she would like to pursue a career in academia or government work, perhaps as an ambassador to a Caribbean country.
“I love finding out information,” she said. “I love knowledge. If my research can help people see the way tourism as a development mechanism can be improved, I’d love that, too.”
And Quince has one more love to share before graduating in May.
“I love Binghamton,” she said. “I think it’s a great school. Without Binghamton, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I’ve been offered. When I meet someone from Harvard or somewhere else at a conference, I’m proud to say that I’m from Binghamton University. I make sure everyone knows where it is.”