Student Life

Student Experiences

Tom Jacobs

Political Science

Minoring in French, Business Administration, and Military Studies
Air Force ROTC
Political Science Club

“The Political Science Department puts on some amazing events for students and faculty to interact and address pressing issues that will challenge our generation. Our ‘Super Tuesday’ and ‘Election Night’ get-togethers, student research conferences, dinner-and-discourse book club, and weekly coffee hour make being a Political Science student a lot of fun.”

Political Science the RIT Way

When Tom decided to attend RIT to major in a College of Liberal Arts program, he surprised a few of his friends and family. “Coming to a school for Political Science that is known primarily for engineering and tech programs raised more than a few eyebrows,” he says. “But after touring and applying to fourteen different schools, even traditional liberal arts colleges known for their political science programs, it became clear that RIT was the best choice.”

During Tom’s visit to campus as a prospective student, he was able to meet with Dr. Sean Sutton, the Chair of the Political Science department.  “Dr. Sutton spent the afternoon with my family and me talking about RIT’s highly-flexible degree program, top-notch faculty and one-of-a-kind courses that other colleges don’t offer or teach like RIT does. I also learned that nearly all the political science courses are taught by full-time faculty with PhDs, which was not the case at many schools I toured.”

As a student at RIT, Tom says he’s found support and guidance from his professors and academic advisors to be helpful. “They have all been incredibly helpful in planning my courses strategically so I could graduate early, all while making sure the classes were pertinent to my interests and goals.”

Ruth Starr

Museum Studies

Double Major with ASL-English Interpretation
Co-op with Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)

“I was hired by MOMA for my co-op because I have experience as both a visual artist and as someone who is able to work with people with disabilities. Having a double major allowed me to hit courses across multiple disciplines, growing my knowledge base in several areas as opposed to just one.  That’s what really gave me the opportunity.”

A Personalized Education

Electing to pursue a double major at RIT might sound intimidating, but it’s a lot more manageable than you’d think.  “It’s not that it’s more stressful to double major, it’s just a matter of managing the stress. Staying on top of your classes is what’s really important. It’s an organizational thing more than anything else,” says Ruth, a Museum Studies major who is double majoring with ASL-English Interpretation, a program offered through the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

 During her time at RIT, Ruth has taken advantage of the diversity of courses offered on campus to build an education that fits her personal interests and goals.  “Last spring, I interned at the Memorial Art Gallery here in Rochester, which was a great general experience in working in a museum.  But I also wanted experience working in museum accessibility, which is how museums open up their programming to those with disabilities.  I knew I wanted to be in a place that was really well-established so I could see what it really takes.”  With encouragement from her professors, Ruth applied for an internship at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, citing her skills both in museum studies and ASL interpretation as strengths.

Ruth credits the combination of her majors and the unique synergies they create with helping her to land such a prestigious co-op position.  “I’m hesitant to say simply ‘dual majors made be successful’ because it was less about simply having the majors and more about how I was able to combine and synthesize them.”  The skills she learns in both programs—and how she is able to apply knowledge from each to the other— gave her the opportunity to work at one of the country’s top cultural institutions.   

Interested in learning more about double majors at RIT? Contact an advisor to discuss your options! 

Cassidy Putney

Public Policy

Chair of Sustainability Student Advisory Board

President of Student Environmental Action League (SEAL)

Co-op with NYSERDA

“I want to serve people and help them in any way that I can. Many of today’s issues are affected by public policy in some way, and understanding how to analyze policy is the first step in being able to advocate for change.”

Making a Difference

Many students come to RIT with the desire to make a difference in the world and Cassidy, a Public Policy major, is no different. “Being able to alleviate youth hunger is my career aspiration,” she says.  Cassidy has been able to connect with people on campus and in the City of Rochester to gain the insight and experiences necessary to help those dealing with food insecurity. In addition to taking focused coursework on areas such as food policy and social issues, she has worked with Seedfolk City Farm, an organization co-founded by several RIT alumni that works to establish urban farming sites to provide locally and sustainably grown produce to city residents. “Seedfolk is hitting a need. They do programs during the summer when kids are out of school and may not have meals provided for them. It’s great to share healthy food with people who likely wouldn’t have access to it. I want to do what they do.”

Cassidy credits a combination of her work with Seedfolk, RIT’s unique coursework, and her experience as a research assistant to Dr. Sandra Rothenberg, Chair of the Department of Public Policy, in helping her to land a prestigious internship with the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). The organization promotes energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. “NYSERDA has a lot of influence on energy in New York State, so I am excited to be working with a group that makes a real difference in how energy policy is created.”

Richard Barney

Criminal Justice

US Army Veteran

Criminal Justice Student Association

Veterans Club

“My admissions process was pretty smooth.  Dealing with the Veterans Office here on campus, I’d say they were very helpful.  They made sure that my GI Bill was all set so I could register for classes easily.”

Army Strong

Richard Barney enlisted in the United States Army upon graduation from high school.  After completing basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, he went to Goodfellow Airforce Base in Texas for his Advanced Individual Training, specializing in Military Intelligence.  A Rochester native, the Army gave Richard the opportunity to see other parts of the country, as well as the world, stationing him at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Grafenwohr, Germany.   A combat veteran, he served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning awards and distinctions such as the Army Commendation Medal (three of them!), Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, and Army Combat Action Badge, among many others.  After eight years of service and reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant, Richard was honorably discharged from the Army.  Soon after, he decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.  Richard plans to work for a federal law enforcement agency someday, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency or the US Marshals.  

Transitioning to RIT

Deciding to attend RIT was an easy decision for Richard, as he grew up in the Rochester area and has had several friends and family members attend the University.  He was pleased with the smooth admissions process, aided every step of the way by RIT’s admissions team and the university’s Veterans & Military Services Office, which specializes in helping students navigate how to use their VA benefits.  RIT is recognized as Military Friendly school, participating in the  Yellow Ribbon Program which provides qualified veterans and dependents 100% tuition coverage each academic year.

Support for veterans carries over into the classroom at RIT, where Richard says his military experience is valued. “My professors are very understanding of the fact that I’m a veteran.  They understand that I’m not a traditional student and that I do bring a lot of life experience into the classroom.  There are relatable things between being a soldier and what we’re studying.  They appreciate when I share my experiences in class.” 

RIT also has a Veterans Club on campus, so military veterans are able to connect with one another outside of the classroom.

RIT and the College of Liberal Arts would like to thank Richard and veterans like him for their service to our country.


Public Policy

Honors Program

“With the Honors Program, it's not that you take a bunch of different, harder classes. It's really about enriching your experience here at RIT."

Honors Program at RIT

“I'm very involved in the Honors program," says Stephanie, who served as the organization's Vice President. "It's fun, it's also challenging. It's also been a great way for me to learn how to lead and manage people."

The Honors program at RIT is a great way for exemplary students to have opportunities to engage in various academic and service-based activities, including unique course offerings and various events. Honors students also receive the benefits of early class registration, free course overloads, and the option for special-interest housing in the Honors Hall.

The Honors program revolves around three pillars: academics, leadership and citizenship. Students are required to maintain a certain GPA and collect Honors academic credits. Additionally, members must provide 20 hours a year of service, in a leadership role or by giving back to the community.

"You get out of it what you put into it, and the program can do amazing things. As much as I put in, I feel like I get even more out of it."

Learn more about the Honors Program here:

Chris Provenzano

Political Science

Internship in Kosovo


“I love that the College of Liberal Arts is small.  You get to work one-on-one with professors, and the classes are small and engaging.”

Choosing the Liberal Arts, Political Science

Like many prospective college students, Chris wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to major in.  “I started out at RIT as a business management major, then switched to computer science,” he says.  It wasn’t until he took a class from the Political Science department that found his niche.  “I fell in love with the liberal arts and political science.  I really liked taking classes on topics that were unfolding current events.”  When asked about the reasons to study Political Science, Chris answers, “Politics isn’t going away.  It’s always evolving and changing.  That’s what makes it so exciting, it’s never the same thing.  You get to learn something new every week.” 

Why study Political Science at RIT?

As a student in the Political Science program, Chris elected to pursue the Digital Politics track.  “RIT is a university that is up-to-date with technology.  Pairing political science with technical knowledge and skills prepares you for the future, for 21st century politics.”  Topics that Chris has studied in class include cyberpolitics, social media and integrating it into the political landscape, and new issues brought up by technology. 

Chris also cites the faculty as a major reason to study Political Science at RIT.  “They’re all great.  I feel that I’ve built good relationships with my professors.  They’re all personable with their students and very student-centered.  They make themselves available outside of the classroom and I know that I can always go to them for help.”

Allison Rabent

Museum Studies

Studied Abroad in Siena, Italy

Completed an internship at the Smithsonian MCI

“The Museum Studies program at RIT is unique in that it is one of a handful of undergraduate programs in the world for this major.  I’ve been given the opportunity to learn about the museum world and the intricacies involved in the many different jobs that are available in this field.”

Favorite thing about her program:

“The Museum Studies program is very tight-knit, and the smaller class size and number of students in the program creates great relationships between both the students and faculty.  The advisors are extremely focused on the success of the students and take a very hands-on approach to take care of each student's needs and interests. 

Study Abroad: Siena, Italy

“During the summer after my sophomore year, I was able to spend the entire month of July in Italy and live with a host family while attending school.  I took Italian classes a few times a week, and then spent the rest of my time working with four other students for a local painting conservator and restorer.  I was able to work on actual art from day one, and we spent the month cleaning and touching-up a ceiling fresco in a local woman’s home.  It was an amazing opportunity and gave me very valuable work experience.  During the month we also had plenty of time for exploring, and were able to visit Florence, go to the beach, relax in local hot springs, and celebrate the upcoming Palio horse race.  Overall it was an experience that I will never forget, and something that I will continue to benefit from for many years.” 

Internship: Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute (MCI)

 “For my internship I spent ten weeks living in D.C. and working 40 hours a week at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute (MCI).  My project involved working with daguerreotypes, which are photographs printed on silver coated copper plates, and are one of the earliest forms of photography.  I worked with two supervisors and was using different advanced imaging techniques to gain a better understanding of the degradation that had happened over time to the very fragile daguerreotype surface.  In addition to this project, I also had the opportunity to work with the furniture conservator on the restoration of a 19th century flag-pole from the Smithsonian Arts and Industries buildings.  I also spent some time cleaning a very intricately-carved wooden Chinese frame from a painting at the Sackler Gallery.”