June 19, 2012
Former START intern pursues dual passions
Student combines interests in art and criminal justice
BY EMILY BONTA
For Melanie Rothman, art is not simply a hobby. The 19-year-old criminology and criminal justice major discovered her artistic talent during the beginning of high school, but noticed her talent for painting in particular during her senior year. Since then, Rothman has pursued both her interests in criminal justice and art with fervor.
Rothman began interning at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) during the fall 2011 semester. She was initially interested in START’s terrorism studies minor and the variety of opportunities available within special projects. “Instead of an internship consisting solely of drudgery work, START provides an internship that is never dull or monotonous. Each day you learn something new and it is always academically exciting,” Rothman said of her experience.
A wealth of opportunity
Rothman took advantage of the variety of opportunities available within special projects. She completed research for the CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) Terrorism Project, Influencing Violent Extremist Research Project, Islamic Radicalization Project and Organized Criminal Intelligence Project. Rothman completed her special projects internship at the end of the spring 2012 semester and was also accepted into START’s Emerging Global Security Issues Fellowship Program (EGSI).
The EGSI Fellowship Program provides tuition and stipends for six undergraduates entering their junior year in a University of Maryland bachelor’s degree program. The program focuses on two-year research course designed to introduce students to different counterterrorism research methods and help them develop expertise in specific conflicts.
At first, Rothman was hesitant to apply for the EGSI Fellowship because of the few slots open to students. After some encouragement from her supervisor, Lauren Pinson, Rothman decided to apply. Aside from Pinson’s support, Rothman was drawn the EGSI Fellowship’s wealth of opportunity. “By providing intensive seminar research courses oriented towards the homeland security science and technology arena, the EGSI fellowship provides an academic opportunity that would otherwise be impossible to achieve,” Rothman said. She will officially begin the EGSI Fellowship at the start of the fall 2012 semester.
More than a hobby
Aside from her work with START, Rothman fostered her artistic talents over the years. After discovering her talent for painting, she worked to build up her artistic portfolio. The Maryland Institute College of Art admitted Rothman to a pre-college program, Drawing and Painting the Figure: Oil Paint. With this program, she planned, led and set up a gallery of her own work. Rothman also entered competitions and won the Distinguished Achievement in Visual Arts Award in a competition in Howard County, Md.
Art is more than just a hobby for Rothman. She hopes to pursue a career in both criminal justice and art. After working with START for the school year, she is dedicating her summer to building up her portfolio. Rothman’s coursework in criminal justice and her work with START provide inspiration for her artwork.
“Primarily, my artwork centers upon psychologically charged portraits that reflect the fringes of human behavior,” Rothman said.
Painting continues to be a major influence for Rothman, who claims that when she is not in class or working she is usually painting. She has found a balance between her two interests and sees potential in their intersection.
“The unusual intersection of my dual interests – meaning art and criminal justice –enhances my understanding of each, and makes each subject more intriguing.”