Seniors-to-Seniors Tea Was Inspiring


Each year Bard LLI has supported a small group of Bard seniors with scholarships that enable them to complete their senior projects. This year’s six recipients described their involved, personal projects at the annual Dean Stuart Stritzler-Levine Seniors-to-Seniors Scholarship Recognition Tea on May 22 in the Laszlo Z. Bito Auditorium. LLI President Nanci Kryzak opened the event with grateful words about Stuart Stritzler-Levine who died in 2020 and was instrumental in the founding of LLI. David Shein, Dean of Studies & Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and OSUN-Bard Network Programs introduced the students. Then the seniors presented their projects to an audience of LLI members, who were captivated by their creativity and commitment. 

Dean Stuart Stritzler-Levine
Ella Menees


Ella Menees’ project combined her love of painting with bright, saturated colors and her interest in portraiture. Ella says that during the process she began to care less about the accuracy of images and more about how colors interact in her work. She wants viewers to go beyond what they see on the canvas to ponder what is not shown. Her paintings are sometimes paired with portraits of people with gazes averted or with the addition of surreal landscape backgrounds. Through these bold and unconventional portraits, Ella hopes to evoke the realization that one can only wonder what is truly going on in someone else’s mind. After graduation, this Kansas City native plans to explore the world of violin making. You can see her project exhibited at UBS Gallery in Red Hook from April through May 14.

The Impact of Dismissal on Self Trust of Patients with Endometriosis

Isabella Pihas sought to explore, through survey data and interviews, the experience of patients with endometriosis, whose doctors have not believed them when they sought help. She undertook this personal topic to give a voice to patients who often go unheard. On average, patients with endometriosis are not diagnosed for eight years! Isabella asked, “How does the dismissal so many patients receive impact the way they understand and experience their endometriosis and to what extent does this affect their trust in symptoms and, consequently, themselves?” Isabella, who grew up in San Diego, hopes to continue researching this question. She has also been working on a podcast called Invisible Patients that will look at “the dismissal of non-male patients in general, not specific to endometriosis.” Isabella’s work can be heard by searching for her name at

Isabella Pihas
Francis Karagodins
Opus 40

Antigone at Opus 40

Francis Karagodins, who grew up in Latvia and New York City, has directed six drama productions in various outdoor locations on campus. He is interested in using theater, music, and architecture together in his productions. Francis feels that “Drama relies on architecture, which is itself dramatic, because it directs physical and acoustical movement.” The large environmental sculpture Opus 40 spoke to Francis, and he chose to do Antigone there. Francis began by researching Harvey Fite, the creator of Opus 40. He also translated Antigone from Greek to English, worked hard to cast the right actors, which he feels is half of a successful performance, and enlisted the help of Carl Linich to direct 12 singers performing traditional Georgian songs as part of the play.

Francis hopes to continue studying Greek and Latin history and literature and directing ancient and modern plays. You can see Francis’ staging of Antigone at Opus 40 on May 14 and 15 at 5:30 p.m. He says that LLI members will be on the guest list or they can purchase tickets at

Clemency for Shantelle Scruggs: A Campaign and Multidisciplinary Reflection

Grace Kellman, who is from Newton, Massachusetts, wanted her senior project to accomplish something in the real world. Her interest in criminal justice and incarceration led her to pursue getting someone out of prison. For the past 15 months, Grace has been collaborating with Shantelle Scruggs and her lawyer, Kate Mogulescu, on a clemency campaign for Shantelle’s release from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. During Grace’s presentation, the audience saw a video edited from an interview conducted with Shantelle that will be submitted to Governor Kathy Hochul, along with a supplemental petition for Shantelle’s clemency.

Grace learned many things through the course of this project including how surprisingly easy it is to bring “a ton of film equipment” into a maximum-security prison. She intends to continue working in the fields of criminal justice, criminal defense, and criminal advocacy. She will also continue to work on the campaign for clemency for Shantelle.

Grace Kellman
Shantelle Scruggs

William Gary

William was raised by his grandparents in Sleepy Hollow, New York. While clearing out their house after their death, he discovered over 450 drawings he had done as a child that his grandparents had stored in a bin in a closet. He was already interested in connecting children’s art to modern painting. The found drawings became William’s research and the heart of his senior project. His work encompasses a large body of paintings, inspired by his childhood artwork, connecting, in his words, “the sophistication of traditional art-making with his own childlike language.” The process, he says, was intensely personal, cathartic, and emotional. William’s bold and colorful paintings say all of that, and more.

William wants to keep studying the combination of the visual language of children’s art with “high art,” as well as continuing the work he did this year. You can view William’s exhibition at Fisher Studio Arts Building from May 14 through May 22. The opening reception is May 14 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Effects of Music-Induced Emotion on Memory

Jess Rylander, a lifelong resident of Providence, Rhode Island, has always been fascinated with the concept of memory, particularly selective memory. Why do we remember some events, images, or information and not others? She questions why some memories are so vivid and the part that emotion can play in memory retention and recall. As an avid music listener, aware of the powerful emotion music can elicit, Jess decided to investigate the relationship between emotion, music, and memory. The wealth of research in this area took her down many paths, some frustratingly contradictory, many confusing. She credits the insight she has gained through the research process to helping her “take off running in the real world.” Jess’s senior project can be found on the Bard Library Senior Project Page. She recently accepted an internship at Edelman, a global communications and PR firm, in the Data and Intelligence Division on the Human Intelligence Team.

Jess Rylander

Thank Yous

Every presenting Bard senior made sure that LLI members knew that the scholarship funds made a difference in resource development for each project. LLI members left inspired by the creativity, curiosity, and commitment of this group of graduating seniors. After a Q and A session, everyone enjoyed coffee, tea, and treats outside, organized by Irene Esposito, LLI’s Hospitality Chair. Each Bard scholarship senior went home with a bag of treats. Everyone wished the Bard seniors all the best as they wrap up their projects, graduate, and take off running in the real world.