Sively de los Santos

Laidlaw Scholar, Columbia College
  • People
  • United States of America

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Leadership & Research Scholar


Columbia University

Laidlaw Cohort Year


Research Topic

Criminology & Criminal Justice Drug Addiction Ethics Ethnic & Racial Studies Gender Studies History Immigration International Relations Law Politics Poverty Psychology

Area of Expertise

Law Leadership Politics Social Sciences

I am from:

United States of America

I speak:

English Portuguese Spanish

My hobbies/interests are:

Dance Foreign languages Music Politics & current events

I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes



Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jun 22, 2023
Replying to Aleena Garrison

1. A challenge that I’ve encountered is defining the word diva. Part of my research is finding toys and products from the 2010s that embody or promote diva-ness. This has allowed me to reexamine what being a diva means, and investigate what “type” of diva has been pushed towards certain generations versus others. Initially, this portion of the project was challenging for me because I was only searching for toys, ads, and other media and products for things that explicitly stated diva. There wasn’t much to go off of, so I had to redefine what diva actually meant. In the 2010s, being a diva was about being sassy and chasing fame, which is a stark difference from the definition in the 90s where being a diva meant owning your individuality, being outspoken, and embracing diversity. Using this, I was able to find more products and media that related to diva-ness, but didn’t explicitly state diva in them. Instead, they had many qualities of being a diva, as their products and ads boasted buzz words like “stardom”, “sassy”, and “fashionista”. This has shaped the larger picture of my research because not only am I getting to relive my childhood by examining girlhood in the 21st century, but I am really exploring the deeper meanings behind the shift in the word and nature of divas, and how that has shaped an entire generation of young women. Being a diva has become something negative when it used to be empowering. 

2. I have found Google Scholar to be particularly useful.

Hi Aleena, I resonate with your challenge on finding source material given an initial vague understanding of a topic. For one of my previous assignments, I was researching an "underground" organization and I didn't get many results from just typing the name of the organization itself. It was only when I read some of the scarce secondary literature on the organization and I established key names, dates, and phrases associated with them that I was able to find more information to successfully complete the assignment. Good luck on your divalicious studies!

Jun 22, 2023

1. One of my assignments is to write a paper about a topic assigned to me. I am at the point where I have collected all of the data/information that I want to include in the paper but, the style of the paper is meant to be more of an encyclopedia entry than an argumentative paper. This is the first time that I've written a paper like this so I am trying to walk the line between not introducing evidence for the sake of debate/justifying an opinion but, also not just inserting data on a paper. I've had to step back and ask myself why I input certain pieces of information or whether or not I am leaning into the habit of an argumentative paper. 

2. Because I've been working with 30+ sources and 80+ citations, Zotero has been helpful for me to keep track of all my source material. 

Jun 16, 2023
Replying to Karen Zhang

1. For my research, I am still currently conducting fieldwork, especially because ethnography is generally conducted over a long period of time. Because of this, my immediate expectations are to continue taking observational notes, talking to community members, and reading more articles about history pedagogy and PBATs. I am currently writing an annotated bibliography with the readings that I’ve been doing to supplement my understanding of PBATs and how social studies and history are taught in schools. This will provide more background and context that will supplement what I’ve been observing during my fieldwork research.

2. Especially given the little amount of literature out there about PBATs and especially, the use of different kinds of assessments and educational equity for immigrant students, I hope that the contribution and research I conduct can add to this field of increasing equity in education for immigrant students. Specifically, I am interested in the way history PBATs affect immigrant students’ understanding of US history, as the students add a critical cultural significance to the classroom with the perspectives and experiences that they bring in. Additionally, given the current political climate and discourses over what should and shouldn’t be included in history education, I am also interested in the way history education has evolved throughout the years in the United States.

Hi Karen, it sounds like you're experiencing the highs and lows of being one of the first people to formally research this information for the purpose of publishing/distributing the information. Because your research is reliant on communicating with others which also implies accommodating their schedules etc I think it would be a great idea/addition to maybe continue this research into the academic year or past the Laidlaw timeline. Whatever you do, I hope it goes well!

Jun 16, 2023

1. Right now my research is focusing on writing a paper about the intersection between a public health policy and criminal proceedings. This paper will then be made public on my faculty researcher's website as part of his wider effort to create a page educating people about issues surrounding public health. 

2. My research matters because in essence it is part of a legal reflection establishing which policies were effective in the goal of harm reduction. Hopefully, this information can be used to better inform future public health policies to come. 

Jun 08, 2023
Replying to Karen Zhang
  1. Especially because I am an outside observer coming into a community to conduct ethnographic fieldwork research, it’s important for me to practice reciprocity in my work. This means not just taking from a community for the benefit of my research but also giving back as well, whether in the form of helping the school with assessment grading or helping to mentor students with their projects. Additionally, because I am working with other people (students, teachers, and faculty), it’s critical for me to always have the community’s consent in observing them and maintain their privacy in my field notes and culminating project.
  1. I’ve looked at competing theories and gaps in my research on performance-based assessment tests (PBATs). It’s interesting to read about how PBATs became an alternative standard of testing compared to standardized testing and why certain groups are opposed to PBATs. Talking to teachers in the community about the benefits and flaws of PBATS also provides a more nuanced understanding of using this type of assessment as a measure of student knowledge. It's made me think about which types of assessments may be more or less effective in measuring knowledge and understanding depending on the subject as well (humanities versus STEM). 

Hi Karen, it's interesting that you are researching performance-based assessments because my high school graded student's skills and abilities based on PBATs. As students we were relieved when regents came around and we did not have to take them but, there was also the strain of completing and often times creating a project or assessment that took more time, energy, and effort than a three hour exam. Good luck with your research!

Jun 08, 2023

1. This week I've been asked to do research related to NYC's infamous stop-and-frisk policy. The policy brings shameful associations with police violence, wrongful incarceration, and racism. I've found myself feeling at a loss because while some of these events have happened in the past and there is nothing I can do to change it, I'm reminded that these misuses of power still occur. 

2. Previously, when doing research on stop-and-frisk, I, like many historians, investigate the relation between stop-and-frisk and race (how stop and frisk was used as a policy to isolate and traumatize black and hispanic communities). But, because the project that I am working on is focused on public health, I am now analyzing stop-and-frisk as a substance-related policy.

Jun 02, 2023
Replying to Kayla Pham

Being exposed to a variety of research topics in different disciplines has been incredibly insightful. I foremost have a greater appreciation and understanding of topics outside of the immediate field I am studying. Having this exposure prompts to me look at my research question in a plethora of different ways. Instead of always approaching STEM problems from a pure Physical Chemistry perspective, I try to employ creativity and unconventional methods to go about solving a problem. Being in an interdisciplinary program puts me out of my comfort zone in the ways that I approach researching a specific question or topic. This type of interdisciplinary problem solving has been incredibly useful, especially when feeling "stuck" or when an experiment hasn't gone the way I hoped. 

As I focus more on my individual research project this week, I've been focusing specifically on the resources that were discussed during the librarian roundtable. I've been utilizing Columbia's databases and other resources to be able to access relevant literature to better contextualize my research. There are so many resources available to students that the struggle has actually been narrowing them down. Thus, I plan to use refining and filtering strategies to find literature that best suits my research needs. 

I relate to your struggle of using the plethora of databases/resources that Columbia has. This week, I've found myself on both sides of the spectrum. Sometimes I search something and many searches come up so I feel overwhelmed with the amount of material I have to go through then sometimes I search something and the literature is limited and I have trouble finding other ways to access the information I need. Hopefully things are better for us next week!

Jun 02, 2023

Because the trainings/discussions we had last week covered many disciplines, I was able to gain exposure to the affairs or tenets of different fields. As a student who is undecided in major, it was interesting to learn about fields that I don't get to engage in or don't know much about ex. 3D printing. 

From last weeks discussions the idea of engaging with feedback remains front and center for me. I am not conducting an individual research project but, instead, I'm working on a faculty member's research project that has been ongoing before me and will continue after me. This week, while working on the project, I've been exposed to new methods or strategies of conducting research that I wasn't familiar with but, the knowledge of that difference has helped me gain access to more information/sources than I would have before.