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BUILD Research Competition

student typing paper and smilingThe purpose of the Helen M. and James E. Izatt BUILD Research Competition (Better Use of Information and Library Databases) is to encourage and support student research using library resources. The competition rewards students who show exceptional skill and creativity in the application of library resources to a research project. It is designed to complement the Information Literacy Program at the Holyoke Community College Library.

BUILD Library Research Competition Winners


First place - Miren Neyra Alcantara

A selfie of Miren Neyra Alcantara

Congratulations, Miren! Miren is the Helen M. and James E. Izatt BUILD Research Competition, 2020 first place winner.

Miren's research paper entitled "No Puedes Andar Dando Quejas Al Patrón: The Neoliberal Attack On Im/migrant Farm Worker Women" was completed for HON 206: Pathologies of Power taught by Professors Raúl Gutiérrez and Vanessa Martínez.

In the paper, Miren examines the daily hazardous working conditions that farm workers face to harvest the food distributed across the U.S. Miren focuses spefiically on im/migrant women who face not only the same labor discrimination as their male counterparts, but also gender discrimination and sexual harassment which places them at great risk. The paper examines that despite their essential role, im/migrant farm worker women in the U.S. food system under neoliberalism face a greater risk of such dangers as pesticide exposure, lack of access to health care, and social injustices such as gender and sexual harassment; however, the ability of such women to organize themselves through activism in such vehicles as labor unions and collectives offers one roadmap to a better future.

In addition to carrying a full course load every semester, Miren actively engages in both the campus and surrounding  communities. She is the recipient of several awards/scholarships: Newman Civic Fellowship, Marion W. Copeland Honors Scholarship and HCC Scholarship. She was also a finalist in the Business West Young Women of Impact.

Second place - Felicia LaPointe

A picture of Felicia LaPointe

Congratulations, Felicia! Felicia is Helen M. and James E. Izatt BUILD Research Competition second place winner.

Her essay "Cells Gone Wild: Neoplasia in Reptiles" was the final project in BIO 107.95 taught by Professor J. Lerner.

The paper examines a part of biological science that until recently has been neglected in research: the frequency, cellular reasons, and treatment methods for neoplasms and cancer in reptiles. Her motivation for paper originated from her twenty-year relationship with her box turtle. She explains that, "Reptiles are often misunderstood, feared, or overlooked and underfunded in scientific research," and so her hope was to highlight and learn the biological similarities and differences between mammals and reptiles by discussing how both are affected by cancer. She gives credit to her professors (especially Professor Jeffrey Learner), and HCC staff (especially her advisor Irma Medina). She is grateful to family, friends, and the community for the knowledge and support that she received while attending HCC during this pandemic.

Felicia is currently enrolled at HCC and hopes to graduate with a degree in Liberal Arts. While she is certain that she will pursue a Bachelor's degree in either biology or animal science and behavioral research, she is yet to select her next school in her academic career.

First place - Elizabeth Busker: "Women Veterans and Intimate Partner Violence"
Second place - Natalie Maslak: "Degradation over dignity: A critical examination of the maternal experiences within the carceral system"

First place - Armanis Fuentes: "Network of Puerto Rican Power: Building Bilingual Education in Holyoke Schools, 1960-1990"
Second place - Brandi St. Romain: "Segregation as a social determinant of health: Environmental justice through Hurricane Katrina and the reconstruction of New Orleans"

Kinari Horton: "Miss(ed) Diagnosis: The experiences of women and girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder"

First place - Kiana Estime: "The Arc of Resistance: Tension Between the Mainstreamed "Illness Model" and the Homosexual Identity"
Second place - Elizabeth Delorme: "Stigma of Addiction: How mainstream society perpetuates the Opioid Epidemic"

Tristan Cullen: "Capitalism, Fear, and Worldview: The Motivation of the Climate Control Countermovement."

Shannon Messer: "Alternatives to Incarceration - Saving the American Family"

Kathryn Malone: "Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: An Argument for Use in Cases with Medical Need."


Mark Humphrey: "Wal-Mart: How it Hurts Us and Why We Love it Anyway."

2008-2009 First Place

Judea Beatrice: "Sexism in the Bakkhai and in Modern Critiques."

2008-2009 Runner-Up
Adrienne Shelton: "The Evolution of Sweet Corn: In Pursuit of the Perfect Ear."


Nicole Reynolds: "White Pomp, Latino Circumstance: The March Toward Racial Inequity in Northampton's Future."




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