Published on May 19, 2021 by Sean Flynt  
Ak Vance
Ak Vance

Samford University law, politics and society major Ak Vance served a unique internship in academic research this spring, working with political science professor Serena Simoni on her latest scholarly project. Vance researched Columbian drug lord Griselda Blanco, and created a literature review and an annotated bibliography for Simoni’s current research on Columbia’s female narcotraffickers.

Simoni’s scholarly interests include international relations, international security, global political economy, Europe and U.S. relations, foreign policy, international organizations, conflict and cooperation, human security, international law, gender, and transnational organized crime. She has been employed by the Italian Department of State as a consultant in political affairs, and has worked with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as an international observer in Albania and as part of a nation-building mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Republika Srpska.

Brought into that world of broad international expertise and influence, Vance earned academic credit as she learned from Simoni how to locate, evaluate, document and use sources. She said the skills have already been helpful in her courses, and weekly meetings with her mentor have helped prepare her for more academic and professional options.

“I really enjoyed getting to talk to Dr. Simoni about her research, and learning from her about doing my own research in the future,” Vance said. “I feel as though I now have a much greater understanding of the research process and I am equipped to continue to do so in both my future classes and potentially my future career.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.