Martha Amaya is a standout. The Honors College senior is triple-majoring in criminal justice, French, and political science. She works 25 hours a week in the Student Union; puts in at least three hours a week as a Hixson-Lied Success Scholar mentor; and is a research assistant in UNLV’s Center for Crime and Justice Policy where she investigates tourism safety and crowd science. She is a recipient of the Hixson-Lied Success Scholarship, the Michael & Geri Rumbolz Scholarship, and the Earl & Hazel Wilson Scholarship.
She is spending the summer at Princeton University, where she earned a full ride to participate in the 2019 Public Policy & International Affairs Junior Summer Institute. This fall she will have a Running Start Congressional Fellowship in Washington, D.C. She is one of just eight college women selected across the entire nation for the fellowship. She also received the Gary Gray Scholarship and the Philip J. Cohen Scholarship.
What fascinates you about your research?
Everything about the Strip is fascinating and it’s a perfect place to focus on the interactions between public policy, law enforcement, and tourism. My lab (directed by professor Tamara Herold) has been examining “dialogue policing” where police talk with, or coach, demonstrators before and during protests to avoid escalation. This is done more in Europe, so I’ve been summarizing research in this area from French- and Spanish-language publications.
What impresses you most about your UNLV experience?
A lot of people mention diversity when they talk about UNLV, but I’d go further. I really value the diversity of thought, of working with different theories and opinions. It’s important to not just hear an echo chamber.
Where do you get the drive to take on so many challenges?
My family, definitely. My mom is from Mexico and my dad from Colombia, and they worked so hard for me. I want to be able to give back to them. And my friends inspire me. I work hard to keep up with them!
Why do you want to join the U.S. Foreign Service?
When I was younger I wanted to work for the CIA as a spy, like a ninja. It was the thrill factor that attracted me. Well, now, the thrill factor isn’t as strong. And I realize that I can still do incredible work in the Foreign Service — but more professionally. In a suit.
How have scholarships made a difference in your UNLV experience?
Without a doubt, I couldn’t complete my work at UNLV without my scholarships. They mean I don’t have to work full time. I can live on campus, so I don’t have to commute two hours each way by bus. I have more time to study, more time for research — and more time to just be a college student.
What might people be surprised to learn about you?
I like to watch dog and cat videos on Instagram. They’re under a minute long and I can fit them in between classes.