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Democracy in Action | Students Study League of Women Voters of Frederick County

Some students are getting a jump on their future this summer as participants in Hood’s Summer Research Institute. The SRI is a competitive program which allows selected students to work one-on-one with a faculty adviser on a research project. Students are provided free housing and a stipend while they conduct research in the laboratory or in the field for eight weeks. Pictured: Students Brielle Rozmus ’19 and Nailah Russell ’18 (standing) and Hoda Zaki, Ph.D., Virginia E. Lewis Professor of Political Science, Director of African American Studies, and Coordinator of the Nonprofit and Civic Engagement Studies minor (far left) with a panel of former and current presidents of the Frederick chapter of the League of Women Voters.

By Brielle Rozmus ’19 and Nailah Russell ’18

This summer, we’ve joined Dr. Zaki in her research on the League of Women Voters of Frederick County. Our objective is to understand the impact this organization has had on Frederick politics and civic life, and its connections to Hood College.  We’re using a number of different techniques to do so. We’ve reviewed literature, including a Ph.D. dissertation, to give us the historical and theoretical contexts necessary to understand the League’s influence. In addition to our own Hood archives, we’ve visited the Maryland Room at the Public Library, the Historical Society of Frederick, and plan to visit the University of Maryland archives. We’ve also stepped outside of the library to interview important County politicians. Recently, we spent the weekend in Chestertown, Maryland as delegates observing the League of Women Voters of Maryland. They decided on which policy issues to take action and discussed the current political climate with vigor. Some days later, we attended a heated Frederick town hall meeting at which the County Sheriff and ICE officials discussed the controversial 287(g) program. We witnessed the Frederick League president alert officials to her plans of researching and acting on local immigration policy.


When Dr. Zaki approached us to be her assistants, the task seemed relatively simple. However, the deeper we got into the research, the more we had to be flexible. Sometimes we’ll find everything we need at that time. Other times, we have to shift gears. In these instances, we learn to accept our data, look for different clues and move in the direction the information is pushing us. Acquiescing to that reality has allowed us to gain many other useful insights. A wide scope of focus is critical to understand that research is a complex web of ideas, events and people. The more you entrench yourself in that web, the more questions you develop that often go unanswered. Therefore, you must either rephrase your questions, look to other sources, or accept that there may not be an answer. In the field, you must be vigilant. At the State convention, we gathered just as much information from casual interactions about the League’s civic impact as we did from formal sessions.

It appears that the League has done a tremendous service to the community. Members at the local level have adhered to their goals of good government, public welfare, equality and democracy. Through the SRI grant, we not only continue to acquire valuable research skills that will aid us in our pursuit of higher education and career advancement, but we have learned about the importance of civic engagement and empowerment.

Read the next post:
Part Two: Our Trip to the League of Women Voters Maryland State Convention

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