2021 Truman Scholars
Congratulations to the 2021 Truman Scholars!
The Foundation reviewed 845 files from 328 institutions. Students were nominated by their institution based on their records of leadership, public service, and academic achievement. Our Finalist Selection Committee selected 193 students from 129 institutions to interview with the Foundation’s Regional Review Panels between March 1 and April 5. The 2021 Truman Scholarship Finalists can be found here.
In 2021, we selected 62 outstanding college students from 51 institutions as Truman Scholars. Read more about them in our Press Release. Biographies, provided by the Scholars, appear below.
Originally from a fishing community in coastal Somalia, Sagal is a first-generation Somali-American currently based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She studies statistics and public policy at Carleton College and researches illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. Having previously worked with the Minnesota House of Representatives, she is keen to use data to explore and inform policies concerning marine management and fisheries at local and national levels. Much of Sagal’s work involves the advancement of cross-regional learning and investor engagement in fisheries, inland waterways, and coastal zones. She addresses the interconnected issues of maritime security, sustainable marine resource extraction, and marine conservation. Sagal is currently a research assistant at Collaborating for Resilience, an active member of the Minnesota Young Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, and the leader of a research project that is developing tools to monitor and track the movements of illegal vessels along the Somali coastline using remote sensing data.
Joris is a first-generation Togolese-American from Denver, Colorado. He is majoring in political science with minors in business and leadership studies. As a member of the Presidents Leadership Class at the University of Colorado Boulder, Joris serves as the director of community outreach and recruitment of prospective scholars, developing expansive recruitment strategies for the program. A firm believer in the influence and impact of government, Joris hopes to promote the formation of sound education, health care, and economic policy. As a low-income student, he understands the existence of wide gaps within our systems, and the work to narrow these gaps ignites his passion. After graduation, he intends to earn an MA in education at the University of Colorado Boulder. In his free time, Joris can either be found in a studio producing music or having a laugh with a friend.
Abigail studies political science and Spanish, and serves as board president of Oregon Student Voice, an education policy and youth empowerment nonprofit organization she co-founded in 2018. At her school, Abby is a labor rights organizer and disability rights activist. Most recently, she raised $30,000 to create an emergency relief fund for service and auxiliary workers on her campus who lost their jobs during the pandemic. Previously, she organized labor rights demonstrations, including a campus-wide boycott of dining services in solidarity with SCU’s cafeteria workers. She is the student representative on the university’s Task Force for the Prevention of Unlawful Harassment and Discrimination, and she chairs the Committee for Social Change. Abby is passionate about public policy and social justice and has spent her last two summers in Washington and Sacramento doing immigration and criminal justice policy advocacy. After undergrad, she plans to go to law school and eventually run for office.
Ose is studying Chinese and political science with an international relations specialization. On campus, they are active in student government and currently serve as the inaugural chair and co-founder of Ohio State’s Undergraduate Black Caucus. Since coming to campus, they have been working to emphasize the need for inclusive practices for minority students. For their advocacy, the Student Life Multicultural Center awarded them the university’s Buckeye Pride award. Ose was also crowned Ohio State’s first openly nonbinary homecoming royal in the school’s 150-year history. Prior to attending Ohio State, they served as the National Student Advocate of the Year for LGBTQ+ nonprofit Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teachers Network, advocating for youth voice and inclusive practices in K-12 schools. Ose plans to pair interests in human rights and foreign affairs by pursuing an MA in international affairs. They plan to work for the Department of State, first as a Foreign Service Officer, and ultimately, representing the United States abroad as an Ambassador. Ose has an interest in linguistics and history, and has studied Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and American Sign Language.
Originally from Denton, Texas, Sarah is a first-generation college student majoring in Spanish and psychology, who is passionate about creating a better child welfare system. Driven by her own lived experiences, Sarah has spent her time in college helping children and families access resources on an individual level, as well as advocating for them systemically. She has worked with Mid-Iowa Community Action for the past three years, expanding their mobile food pantry program and supporting low-income elementary school students and their families. She has also worked directly with foster youth in a residential treatment center, helping them develop coping mechanisms and build relationships. Sarah interned with the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, focusing on youth justice system reform, and she completed independent research on the experience of foster youth involved in the youth justice system in Iowa. She plans to earn an MSW with a focus in public policy to help create a child welfare system that truly supports both children and families.
From Valdez, Alaska, Sadie studies human-environmental systems and cultural anthropology. Sadie’s people-centered approach to issues of environmental justice and climate displacement is informed by her diverse experiences, ranging from co-founding a nationally-recognized youth climate activism organization, interviewing climate activists in red states on how to bridge the partisan divide, farming on frozen Alaskan tundra nearly 400 miles from the nearest road system, and working as a stagiaire at a sustainability-oriented Michelin-starred restaurant. Recently, she served as co-director of Baole, a Bay Area organization that seeks to apply a cultural lens to sustainable eating. On a national level, Sadie serves as board co-chair for Power Shift Network and as the National Reinvestment Director for the College Climate Coalition. She hopes to pursue a JD in immigration and climate law to address the growing climate refugee crisis. In her spare time, Sadie loves unicycling, playing the mellophone in the Stanford Marching Band, and dancing to Gloria Trevi.
Passionate about technology, Tarik is a computer science major and public policy minor, who seeks to make meaningful change in the world. He is interested in addressing algorithmic bias in emerging technologies. By leading initiatives that target systemic inequalities, Tarik aims to eliminate the root causes of issues that perpetuate racial inequity in the United States. Through volunteer work and leadership opportunities, he has been able to tackle symptoms of these larger issues and is inspired to use his technical skill set for good as a public interest technologist. Tarik plans to pursue an MPP and to create nonprofit organizations that use grassroots strategies to promote equity throughout underserved communities. Tarik is also an avid fan of jazz music and plays the tenor saxophone as a member of the Band of the Fighting Irish.
Tatyana is a proud African American and Afro-Puerto Rican raised in the American South. After several years of community organizing within Black and Latinx communities, she moved to the United Arab Emirates to attend NYU Abu Dhabi. As a social research and public policy major with a concentration in Africana studies, she has traveled to six continents researching the compounding systemic injustices faced by Black women and gender-marginalized people everywhere. In Abu Dhabi, she co-founded and directs AZIZA, an organization that builds community among Black women from over 30 countries. She also advocates for an NYU-wide Black feminist curriculum, the creation of a Black Student Association, and several projects to address institutionalized anti-Blackness in policies, data, health, and hiring at NYU Abu Dhabi. Tatyana intends to pursue an MA in Africana studies and an MSW to further explore the crossroads of global Black feminisms, abolition, and mutual aid, and hopes to create or expand a global network of mutual aid projects supporting Black women and gender marginalized people as harmful systems are abolished. Beyond her work, she finds joy in making pottery and performing acoustic soul music.
Alessandra Brussel Faria
Alie is committed to combating health disparities and improving access to health care. She majors in ethnicity, race, and migration, while concurrently completing pre-med studies. Alie has participated in numerous health equity research projects, including interning at the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health with the White Mountain Apache community and at the Yale School of Medicine’s Equity Research and Innovation Center. Alie is also a named author on a study that evaluated psychotherapy services for Native American communities. Additionally, Alie serves as a certified Emergency Medical Technician and COVID-19 vaccinator for Yale’s distribution program. In spring 2020, she volunteered in the emergency department and intensive care units at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, assisting with the response to the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. Alie has also worked in advocacy spaces, bringing attention to public health issues on a national scale by organizing the Women’s March Youth Empower’s Enough! National School Walkout. Alie intends to pursue an MD and is dedicated to crafting health care policy grounded in patients’ lived experiences and public health research.
Sophie is a third-year Boettcher Scholar studying political thought and philosophy of law. Sophie’s struggles with dyslexia instilled in her a deep concern for equity that motivates her work on youth civic engagement, voting rights, and antiracism. Sophie intends to continue studying political thought and then to pursue a JD, focusing on constitutional law and civil rights. She works as a community organizer and writing tutor. When she is not talking politics at the dinner table, Sophie enjoys reading old books, baking bread, doing ceramics, and writing poetry. To relax, she throws pots, but not at anyone, usually.
Yu Jing Chen
Yu Jing Chen majors in urban studies and planning and computer science. Born in Taishan, China, but raised in Chicago, Yu Jing places value in the diverse range of people and their stories, centering marginalized voices in her work. Driven by her own immigrant background, she is passionate about fighting for equity, especially for immigrant Americans. From community organizing to city government and beyond, she hopes to develop field experience and elevate community knowledge to channel power within communities for local-driven development in the face of historical cycles of oppression and marginalization. Yu Jing serves as vice president of the Undergraduate Association, MIT’s student government, using her platform to elevate student voices, such as in the shaping of the Institute’s first 5-year Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan or embedding equity into MIT’s COVID-19 response. On campus, Yu Jing is also invested in first generation and/or low-income and Asian American advocacy. Drawing on COVID-19 recovery experience in the City of Miami Beach Mayor’s Office and field work with nonprofits in Oaxaca, Mexico, where she worked with local communities to co-create low-cost technologies for development, Yu Jing has learned the importance of investing in local capacity and is excited to take this forward in her work.
Passionate about alleviating food insecurity, Ronnie brings a strong academic foundation in economic analysis, econometrics, and data-driven policy to her leadership, focused on rural development. Currently, she serves as co-executive director of the Clemson Food Collective, an organization focused on ensuring equitable, culturally appropriate, and sustainable access to food on Clemson’s campus. She also interns in Clemson’s Department of Sociology, working with federally-designated Opportunity Zones to develop sustainable economic development projects, and co-founded the Youth Scholars Program, a mentorship program at Title 1 schools in South Carolina. Ronnie worked as an undergraduate researcher with the Promise Zone Coordinator of South Carolina to promote asset-based community development projects in persistent poverty communities and studied the impact of food insecurity across twelve counties through a Blue Cross/Blue Shield grant-funded project. Currently, she is pursuing a political science honors thesis on state-based restrictions of SNAP for individuals with previous convictions. Ronnie intends to pursue an MPP to ensure she is well-equipped to craft, analyze, and implement effective policy solutions to promote food sovereignty and alleviate food insecurity globally.
Jarrell Daniels is majoring in sociology and African American studies. His personal experience of incarceration and its aftermath motivates him to work for criminal justice reform throughout the United States. Jarrell is passionate about eliminating the collateral consequences of felony convictions, which have the effect of permanently limiting the citizenship rights and civil liberties of those who have been convicted of a crime. He hopes to attend law school after college and to specialize in constitutional law and public policy. In the future, Jarrell plans to work as a civil rights attorney and to lead a national campaign to repeal the Thirteenth Amendment’s Exception Clause. He would eventually like to serve in the United States Senate. He hopes to dedicate his career to ensuring that nobody in our society is forgotten by the government. Jarrell is active in community service, organizing youth from underserved communities and sponsoring toy drives for children.
Hailing from Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Dominique is a first-generation college student majoring in political science. She believes that building strong local communities is the solution to many of the most daunting social issues of our day. Her passion for community resilience shines through in her efforts to meet the challenges surrounding her campus, from organizing annual support programs for survivors of suicide loss to serving as a student leader in the University of Maine’s Honors College. She is particularly invested in seeking systems-level policy solutions to environmental and social challenges, such as diverting wasted food from landfills to food security organizations. She plans to pursue a joint JD/MEP to equip her with the necessary expertise to tackle both short-term and long-term challenges to local resilience. In her spare time, she enjoys sharing a beautiful day exploring nature with friends or settling down with a coffee and a good book.
David Edgerton III
David is a political science major and legal communications minor from Saint Paul, Minnesota. A student leader, he serves as the legislative director for The Live Movement, civic engagement coordinator of the Howard University Student Association, and president of the Howard University Speech and Debate team. David is currently interning in the executive office of the National League of Cities and has dedicated his life to service and community action. An aspiring civil rights attorney, he recently committed to Howard University School of Law. He believes that it is our duty as a nation to build up every child from every background and will not stop until this goal, this American dream, is achieved.
From South Orange, New Jersey, Cosimo currently studies economics and government. Guided by his conviction that that the best way to shape the future is to educate and nurture young people, he has worked under Bryan Stevenson at the Equal Justice Initiative and currently works with the New Jersey Public Defender’s Appellate Division on behalf of juveniles who have received unjust sentences. On campus, Cosimo works with law professors on The Re-Entry Project to improve resource access for formerly incarcerated individuals in Tompkins County, co-founded the Cornell Criminal Justice Coalition, and is a Cornell Tradition Fellow. He is also the co-founder and president of rapStudy, an ed-tech start-up helping thousands of children learn via music throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Both rapStudy and his criminal justice advocacy have been inspired by his experiences in jazz: Cosimo has been a featured guitarist at Jazz at Lincoln Center since middle school. He intends to pursue a joint JD/MPP and work to elevate the integrity of our nation’s justice system. Cosimo loves Sabatino’s Pizza, boxing, and the music of Joe Pass.
As a political science major and transfer student from Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, Massachusetts, Max’s background lies at the intersection of history, political science, and social change, which has informed and motivated his belief in the power of community organizing. Upon graduation from Boston College, he intends to complete a year of service in a community-based program focused on closing the achievement gap among children in low-income housing. He then plans to pursue a JD with a social change track in order to explore the relationship between the historical consequences of policy and marginalized groups, while also providing low-income legal assistance. In his career, Max seeks to combine his legal training with his background in community-based campaigns to protect voting rights. Max enjoys creative writing and reading, as well as sharing his experience, strength, and hope.
Born and raised in Parkland, Florida, Carlee is an Angier B. Duke Scholar double-majoring in political science and history. With a passion at the intersection of juvenile justice, reducing gun violence, and civic engagement, Carlee has spent her college career researching gun violence from medical, public policy, and legal perspectives, while creating opportunities to engage in public service and government. On campus, Carlee is an associate justice for student government, a peer advisor, a panelist on the Student Conduct Board, a Hart Leadership Fellow, and a 2020 Mount Vernon Fellow. Outside of Duke, Carlee serves as president for the Triangle Debate League, an organization aimed at increasing access to speech and debate opportunities in the Triangle area. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a joint JD/MA in socio-legal studies. Carlee hopes to spend her career at the nexus of research and practice, working to develop community-led solutions to reduce gun violence.
Catherine is a mother of two toddlers, an activist, and an advocate. Previously a student at Washtenaw Community College, she now studies political science at the University of Michigan. After both she and her son almost died in childbirth, Catherine founded BirthSafe.org, a maternal health-specific review website. She has lobbied for maternal health bills in Michigan and Washington, and serves on the steering committee of the Hungry for Justice SNAP expansion coalition, elevating formerly incarcerated and disability inequities in Michigan’s current food stamp system. In September of 2020, her group helped get Senate Bill 1006 passed, which removed the felony ban for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in Michigan. Catherine plans to pursue an MPP and, eventually, shape policy to be more equitable and effective. She hopes to create greater and more effective safety nets for everyday citizens in the nation. In her life, Catherine hopes to advance solutions that create shared prosperity and equity for all.
Nick studies philosophy with a concentration on medical ethics. Because his professional goal is to serve the suffering and his country as a military trauma surgeon, he intends to pursue an MD with a focus on health care leadership and policy. Currently, Nick can be found caring for and learning from injured patients in the ambulance, helicopter, trauma bay, operating room, and intensive care unit. He also sits on multiple hospital ethics committees. In the future, Nick seeks to use his front-line experience to improve battlefield trauma care so that the military is always ready to “fight tonight.” From tents in remote, austere battlefields to airplanes flying at 30,000 feet, he aspires to be a military leader and policymaker who pushes military medicine forward in the battlefield and higher in the sky. When not in scrubs, Nick enjoys spontaneous adventures, skydiving, water skiing, farming sweet corn and giant pumpkins, line dancing, baking cookies, and eating too many cookies.
Halima arrived in America as a refugee from Dadaab, Kenya, with her mother and six siblings. A first-generation college student and AmeriCorps VISTA alumna, she is studying political science with an emphasis on international relations. On campus, she is a student leader who promotes inclusion: Halima co-founded the first African Student Association at Boise State. Informed by her firsthand experiences, she advocates for students from various backgrounds, such as English language learners, refugees, and first-generation students. Off campus, she is a community leader who elevates marginalized voices through grassroots campaigns and working alongside local nonprofits. Via her experience as a McNair Scholar, she has developed her interests in credential recognition of refugees in the United States. She is the first runner-up of Miss Somalia 2021, and created The Circle of Excellence, providing refugee women with a safe space to share their experiences and create dialogues on identity, confidence, and self-understanding, through her Miss Africa Idaho scholarship. Halima plans to pursue graduate work in international affairs, focusing on East Africa, with the goal of empowering refugee women and girls’ social development through policymaking.
Originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Noah is studying government and was recently elected as the first Black male student body president in Harvard’s history. He also serves as co-chair of the Black Caucus and is passionate about creating initiatives to help improve the experience of the student body via the Undergraduate Council. Following the racial injustices this past summer, Noah led an effort to raise over $45,000 for Black solidarity charities. He rented a warehouse to provide low-cost storage to over 500 students, and he partnered with Headspace to provide a year-long mindfulness subscription to over 1,200 students. Harris is also a member of the Politics of Race and Ethnicity group at the Institute of Politics. He is involved in the Phillips Brooks House Association through the David Walker Scholars Program, by which he mentors minority children in the Boston area. Apart from Harvard, Harris is the author of the children’s book Successville, which teaches kids they can do anything in life if they are willing to work hard in school, set goals, and develop talents.
Austin is currently studying economics and public policy as both a Hunt and Tower Scholar. Austin’s passion for education equity has led him to teach children in Kenya and Puerto Rico, intern for two members of Congress, and serve on the board of a Dallas-based education nonprofit. After receiving the Richter and Engaged Learning Fellowships and performing a needs assessment in Cameroon, Austin founded the Global Education Mission which now connects a class of Cameroonian students to high-quality teachers from around the world. Active on campus, Austin serves as student body vice president and works on numerous faculty committees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he founded the College Health Alliance of Texas (CHAT), a coalition of student body presidents and vice presidents from 27 universities. For CHAT, Austin organized two Congressional roundtables, forged partnerships for a statewide mental health hotline, and ultimately received a Congressional Tribute for advancing the cause of public safety. Austin will pursue a joint JD/MA in education policy to pursue a career in public service centered on education policy that creates systemic change.
Raised outside of Albuquerque, Emma is studying political science and sociology, pursuing a political science honors designation and an Honors College designation. Her determination to serve underserved populations and her community stems from her experience as a woman of color growing up in rural New Mexico. For example, she recently served on Protect NM, a coalition to distribute personal protective equipment across underserved areas in New Mexico. Emma was elected to the University of New Mexico’s undergraduate student government (ASUNM) and has been an active participant in many student and political organizations. Emma interned for the UNM Honors Research Institute, where she saw firsthand the needs on her campus, and she was appointed to the Student Fee Review Board, a board that allocates $12 million in student fees. These experiences influenced her to champion the establishment of the Asian Pacific American Culture Center, the ASUNM Emergency Scholarship Fund, and the ASUNM Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion position. Emma has also interned for the Albuquerque Mayor’s office and the New Mexico State Legislature. Upon completion of a joint JD/MPP with concentrations in human rights and social justice, she hopes to run for public office to tackle basic needs insecurity, homelessness, and racial and ethnic inequities.
Chanise is double-majoring in law and policy and business administration, and minoring in global engagement. Fueled by her personal experience, she is passionate about Lupus awareness, public service, human rights, and activism. In the summer of 2020, she mobilized her community’s local Black Lives Matter efforts to co-found Fredericksburg Free, a community resource and empowerment organization that works collaboratively with local organizations and elected officials. She is particularly interested in the intersections of gender, race, class, and laws on individual mental health and plans to pursue a joint JD/LLM program to inform her career as an international human rights attorney. Chanise ultimately wants to use her experiences and love for people to bring volume to the voices often silenced. She hopes to achieve this domestically through litigation, and then on a global scale through writing international human rights treaties.
After many years as frontline staff for various nonprofits and local government offices, Bay Area native Cassandra studies politics, economics, policy, and law. A graduate of the City College of San Francisco, she is also a nontraditional student and mother to two boys. Her background in community organizing, interest in equity and policy, and understanding of barriers in system-impacted communities have compelled her to focus on advocating for racial equity policies. Currently, she coordinates a rental assistance program, partnering with nonprofits and local government to provide assistance to families impacted by the pandemic and other one-time emergencies. Her motivation for finishing her education is to gain access to those in power to redistribute resources. She intends to pursue an MPP, concentrating in nonprofit management, in order to effectively analyze and advocate for grassroots policies. She is particularly interested in cementing collaborative leadership by uplifting marginalized communities and policy makers to move from protests to policy in order to ensure equitable policies and create the community we all deserve. Cassandra enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing board games, and learning historical fun facts.
Andre is studying law and policy and minoring in global engagement. He currently serves as the Student Leadership Council co-chair for the University of Washington’s Global Honors Program. He also serves as a Commissioner on the City of Tacoma’s Human Rights Commission, which studies, investigates, and mediates community issues that may result from discrimination. Prior to pursuing his undergraduate education, Andre worked in the nonprofit sector as a fundraiser and development associate. He plans to earn a JD, after which he will explore legal advocacy, policy reform, or elected office. In what little free time he has between working at the Tacoma Community College Foundation – where he was also a student – and studying, he enjoys spending time with his family.
Gurtaran is pursuing a dual-degree in sociology and political science, with a minor in Spanish studies. Her passion for women’s rights stems from her identity as a Sikh woman, which has motivated her to pursue a career advocating for women and women of color who are systematically disadvantaged by institutional structures. Her work at the YWCA and EMILY’s List was grounded in uplifting the voices in her community and providing opportunities such that every woman could succeed, whether by obtaining a job or running a successful campaign. On campus, she is heavily involved with her university’s undergraduate student government, the Minnesota Student Association, where she chaired the Sexual Assault Task Force and currently serves as the Speaker of Forum. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a JD focusing on public interest or criminal justice, with the goal of breaking down the barriers faced by underrepresented communities. In her free time, Gurtaran enjoys weightlifting and watching basketball.
A Nepalese-American raised in the American Midwest – Michigan, Nebraska, and South Dakota – Dhwani studies government. At Dartmouth, she is heavily involved in sexual violence prevention advocacy and has also worked extensively as a student researcher on menstrual health management. Dhwani has interned at both the Congressional Research Service and the Brookings Area United Way. In these positions, she worked on a variety of issues, ranging from Congressional behavior to resilient communities. She is passionate about women’s rights and hopes to pursue a career in the legal field to challenge the structural problems that continue to limit women’s potential. Dhwani’s commitment to public service stems from an understanding that rights, opportunities, and potential should never be denied based on arbitrary factors.
Jessica, an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation and a registered first-generation descendant of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. At Princeton, she studies political anthropology, American Indian studies, and environmental science. A 2020 Udall Scholar of Tribal Public Policy, she is committed to citizen science and community-engaged research that is both accessible and meaningful. Beyond the classroom, Jessica is working hard to expand Native access to higher education and grow institutional support for Native students. She is co-president of Natives at Princeton, leads the Princeton Indigenous Advocacy Coalition, and is an advising fellow with Matriculate. She also serves as co-president of the National Congress of American Indians Youth Commission, where she fights at the national level for Native access to higher education and tribal environmental remediation and protection. After earning a PhD in anthropology and environmental studies, she will work with tribal nations to create tribal environmental protection agencies, remediate sites of contamination, and pass tribal environmental laws. Her career will focus on illuminating and mitigating the impact of industrial contamination on Indigenous peoples and their lands.
A Korean-American raised in Thailand and representing Nevada, Chase studies cyber operations at the United States Naval Academy. His background in cybersecurity, cyber planning, and policy have compelled him to focus on the lack of protective cybersecurity measures for our nation’s data, and more importantly, its people. He is particularly interested in cybersecurity education policy pertaining to young Americans and cultivating a culture of basic cyber hygiene that will instill “herd immunity.” Chase is a member of the Cyber Security Team and engages with his community by mentoring high school students. He intends to pursue an MSc in social science of the Internet to address the technical and non-technical aspects of cyber policy. Upon graduation, Chase plans to commission as an Information Professional (IP) officer serving in the United States Navy. His role as an IP officer will provide technical knowledge at the tactical level of operations that later can be applied to strategic-level decisions and policy formulation.
Mia is studying mass communication with a concentration in political communication and a minor in history. Her passion is rooted in youth voting and democratic campaigns and elections. Throughout her time at Louisiana State, Mia has helped to register over 6,000 students to vote with her organization, Geaux Vote, a nonpartisan, student-driven organization dedicated to voter registration and civic engagement. Mia also worked as the scheduler on Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards’ reelection campaign, and by forgoing her sophomore year at LSU, helped him to secure a victory in the traditionally conservative state of Louisiana. In 2019, she went on to work as a Governor’s Fellow at the Department of Children and Family Services. There, Mia presented a policy proposal to the governor that instituted a statewide, multidisciplinary data sharing platform to streamline application processes for benefit programs. The Department launched a pilot program last year, and now uses the communications plan that she created to recruit more foster parents. Mia spent 2020 working on various local campaigns, including the reelection of Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Baton Rouge’s first female mayor. She is currently running for student body president and is hopeful for the opportunity to work towards institutionalizing on-campus civic engagement and voter registration. She is also working on her honors college thesis, a study of the history of student activism at LSU.
Abel studies sociology and economics, merging theory and praxis in an effort to understand power, equity, and the instruments of systems change. An Echols Scholar and Royster Lawton Fellow, Abel previously served as the head of UVa’s student legislature and an executive at a social impact incubator for young entrepreneurs. He was recently elected as the nation’s first university student government president who was openly transgender upon election. Abel has also invested his time in community research, particularly focusing on frontline worker advocacy and creating jobs with high employment capital. He is committed to inclusive urban economic empowerment and development through community wealth building. To that end, Abel intends to pursue an MSW with concentrations in social administration and community planning, organizing, and development. After graduate school, he hopes to build local power through community development financial institutions and democratic models of local decision making. In his free time, Abel enjoys engaging in student mutual aid and organizing, learning the guitar, and hiking with his dog Chip.
Destiny is a religious studies major with dual concentrations in peace and conflict studies and studies in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. She is passionate about promoting interfaith cooperation and protecting religious freedom. Since January of 2020, she has contributed to Mapping Islamophobia, an open-source digital humanities project which tracks incidents of anti-Muslim hostility in the United States. She currently interns in the Religious and Ethnic Minorities Unit at the United States Agency for International Development, where she has told the stories of partners rebuilding post-ISIS in Northern Iraq, researched Jewish-Muslim interfaith cooperation in Morocco, and created a database of faith-based organizations, all helping to illuminate the important relationship between religion, service, and community throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to this work, Destiny serves as president of the Grinnell Debating Union, the Student Government Association’s Election Board Chair, and as a member of Student Educational Policy Committees for each of her academic departments. Upon graduation, Destiny plans to pursue divinity school to continue her work at the intersection of religion and community.
Seeking financial stability and a path to higher education, Thor enlisted as a geospatial engineer in the United States Army at the age of 17. Initially drawn to the military by incentives that offered a stable and successful future, he quickly took to heart the Army’s core values of selfless service, which guided his service in Iraq. During his deployment, he was part of the planning and eventual resettlement of 3.5 million Iraqi refugees, who were fleeing violence in Mosul, the pseudo-capital of ISIS. This experience introduced him to the world of international development and aid organizations, such as UN- Habitat. Serving as a planning expert for them, Thor’s responsibilities included mapping and designing temporary settlements for millions of displaced people. After returning home with a new sense of purpose, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he studied international development and geography, focusing on sub-Saharan Africa and economic development policy. Thor will begin graduate school at Georgetown University this fall, where he will study public policy with plans to serve in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. Thor continues to serve as a Warrant Officer in the National Guard.
A member of the Honors College, Greg is pursuing a major in economics and minors in math, data analytics, and political economy. He participated in an economics research project that analyzed vaccine hesitancy in the United States, recently presenting his findings at the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society’s virtual conference. Greg has interned in the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, at the American Enterprise Institute, and with the Irish Federal Government Department of Housing. An avid soccer fan, he is a volunteer soccer coach for refugee youth in the Lansing area. As a leader in the Fed Challenge, an academic competition on monetary policy, Greg transformed Michigan State’s team by making the Federal Reserve’s role on racial inequality the primary focus of the organization. Greg believes that Federal Reserve monetary policies have played a significant role in racial inequality in the United States, damaging the economy in the process. In his future career as an economist, he hopes to become a leader in the Federal Reserve and drive institutional change. Greg is a proud native of the state of Wyoming, a French dual citizen, and passionate about skiing.
An aspiring Air Force Judge Advocate General, Kehani comes from a mixed CHamoru-Korean household. Born and raised on the United States territory of Guam, this young mother double-majors in public administration and criminal justice. Passionate about prison and crime reform, Kehani hopes to reduce the political and public stigma against incarcerated persons and to help implement restorative justice policies and programs to curb the island’s rising recidivism rates and ensure the successful reintegration of convicted individuals. At the University of Guam, she serves as the president of the Public Administration and Legal Studies Society, secretary of the Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society, and a member of the Blue Key Honor Society. Additionally, Kehani works as a teaching assistant to the university’s chair of public administration and legal studies, Dr. Ronald McNinch-Su. She intends to pursue a JD/MPA focused on the longstanding issues that serve as precursors to crime and to increase local government efficiency. In her free time, she enjoys sewing and meditation.
Greg studies applied and computational mathematics and statistics, and economics. President of the Roosevelt Institute at Notre Dame and co-founder of the South Bend Tenant Association, he is interested in serving at the intersection of housing policy research and advocacy. In the spirit of his work with BridgeND, a club dedicated to bipartisan conversations and promoting civil political discourse at Notre Dame, Greg also cares about fostering a culture of open political dialogue, including facilitating ideologically diverse political conversations. By pursuing a joint JD/PhD program, Greg seeks to redefine the established landlord-tenant model through increased access to shared equity housing, supporting people into pathways to intergenerational wealth. In his career, he plans to even the asymmetrical balance of power between landlords and tenants, and continue his advocacy for tenant rights.
Rachel works at the intersection of economics, human rights, and policy to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief, also known as freedom of conscience. As executive director of Bellwether International, Rachel works directly with government leaders, faith and belief leaders, and other nongovernmental organizations to address the growing human rights violations that affect groups such as the Uighurs in China and Rohingya in Myanmar. One project included the delivery of over 40,000 books, school supplies, and clothing for implementation of a literacy program empowering children displaced because of their religion in Nigeria. She has worked extensively on public policy in the United States Senate and most recently in the Utah State Legislature, helping to draft and facilitate support for three separate bills that ensure protection to sexual assault survivors. Rachel intends to pursue a graduate degree in economics and then attend law school. Rachel enjoys rock climbing and attending live jazz performances.
Jenna is a Gabelli Presidential Scholar studying global public health on the pre-dental track. She is passionate about the fields of global public health, dentistry, and environmental justice, and actively seeks opportunities at the intersections of them. She is an undergraduate research fellow for the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health, where she researches different sources of pollution and ways to address them. She is also the co-founder and president-elect of Boston College’s Partners in Health Chapter, which is a student organization that advocates for health equity. Off campus, Jenna conducts research and writes policy briefs on the environmental impacts of dentistry at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. She also volunteers for Completely KIDS, a nonprofit organization in Omaha, Nebraska. In the future, Jenna hopes to pursue a joint DMD/MPH degree in order to reduce health disparities and environmental degradation locally, nationally, and globally.
Daud is an organizer, storyteller, artist, and first-generation Somali-Muslim American from Salt Lake City, Utah, majoring in justice studies. As the former equity and inclusion chair and currently the youngest board member at March For Our Lives, he has worked extensively as a local and national intersectional organizer for the crucial issues of gun violence prevention, ending police violence, and using storytelling as a means of exploring sex and gender inequality. Daud was featured as one Elite Daily’s five Gen Z activists who are “The Next Wave of Black History,” highlighting his motivation to give power back to the most marginalized and oppressed communities.
Ara is a first-generation Nigerian-American born in Moscow, Idaho, and raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She studies government and African-American studies and earned a language citation in Mandarin Chinese from Harvard University. Her passion for enacting change through law and public policy began with her love for grassroots activism and community organizing, as well as her personal experiences witnessing the impact of erasure on marginalized peoples in the United States. This awareness compelled her to serve as the political action chair for the Association of Black Harvard Women and the second-ever director of diversity and outreach for the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she practiced ways to intentionally create institutional changes that could accommodate different communities. As she currently works within the Protest After Care Fund, a mutual aid organization providing financial resources to Black organizers, Ara’s priorities remain grounded in an obligation to communities whose modern disadvantages are vestiges of historical injustices. Following graduation, Ara intends to pursue a joint JD/MPP with an intersectional focus on securing economic equity for traditionally underserved groups.
Iesha-LaShay is double-majoring in Africana studies and law and society and minoring in rhetoric and composition. At Oberlin, she is a member of Oberlin’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day Committee, a writing associate at the Writing Center, a writing tutor at Oberlin High School, an assistant in the Fellowship and Awards Office, and serves on the Student Honor Committee. She also co-founded Coronavirus Oberlin Mutual Aid Fund (COMA), a mutual aid organization that raised over $60,000 to support more than 100 first-generation and/or low-income students. Iesha-LaShay volunteers at juvenile detention facilities throughout Ohio with Writers in Residence, which piqued her interest in juvenile justice and combating social determinants that have resulted in poverty and a cycle of survival crime. Iesha-LaShay plans to pursue a JD to expand her impact in her communities by representing indigent people in court, advising them of their rights, and challenging systemic injustice in the criminal justice system. Her life experience as a first-generation, low-income, Black, and Mvskoke woman with an incarcerated parent fosters her commitment to serving her communities. When Iesha-LaShay has free time, you can find her dancing, eating, watching travel vlogs, or speaking out about injustices.
Sage is a double-major in political science and human rights with a minor in Native American & Indigenous studies. Her motivation and interests in law, policy reform, and opportunity in higher education for Indigenous students stems from her own struggles she has faced in academia. Sage hopes to pursue a joint JD/MA in American Indian studies with the goal of developing a legal nonprofit organization to fight for the success of her future ancestors. While she plans to focus largely on land-grant institutions and work towards reparations for her people, her goals for reform are endless. Sage works every day through the strength of her ancestors, working for higher education institutions to be in good relation with the land they currently stand upon.
Lexi is a first-generation college student and Brown Fellows Scholar from Campbellsville, Kentucky, studying English, French, and political science with a track in global politics and international affairs. Currently, she works as a remote program intern for the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria. At the University of Louisville, Lexi serves as executive vice president of the Student Government Association. A believer in grassroots activism and the power of baked goods, she founded Bake Like U Mean It, fundraising for various nonprofits in her community through biweekly bakes. Lexi intends to pursue a joint JD/MS in addiction policy and practice to better understand the broader process and implication of lawmaking, while identifying which laws must change to better serve, heal, and protect substance-dependent individuals. She is particularly interested in establishing harm reduction networks and addressing the spillover effects of addiction in rural communities. In her spare time, Lexi enjoys trying new recipes, indulging in a good book, and cuddling with her cat, Suki.
Makaila is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and was raised in South Bend, Indiana. She is a proud first-generation college student studying biology and government, and she aspires to attend law school and earn her MPP. Makaila is interested in immigration, health policy, and human rights. Outside of the work Makaila does on campus, she spends time helping international doctors in the community with their English skills so that they can secure certification in the United States. During this time, the doctors told Makaila stories about their home countries, what it was like to work as a physician during a public health crisis, and later shared their immigration stories, which were full of anguish, victory, and love. Learning about immigration from medical professionals expanded her idea of what it means to be a global citizen. During this past summer, Makaila volunteered with the Estamos Unidos Asylum project and translated her first asylum case. Her commitment to public service is rooted in caring for others and listening to their stories in any language. Her public service goal is to become a United States Senator.
Tayna Rivera Rodriguez
Tayna studies secondary education with a concentration in social studies and history. She also serves as an academic senator, a member of the student council, and a soccer player. Tayna’s commitment to social justice has led her to volunteer as a tutor in The Literacy Program of “El Caño Martín Peña” for the last three years. This year, Tayna conducted a study titled: “The voices of Vieques’ adolescents and their perception about exclusion, ‘juvenicides’ and education,” with the main objective of amplifying the voices of these adolescents. Upon graduation, she seeks to pursue an MA in education and a doctorate in education leadership. Tayna is committed to a career in public service and is devoted to changing Puerto Rico’s education system, ultimately aspiring to serve as Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Education. She has no doubt that there are better ways to teach, to learn, and to build a society.
Abigail is studying history, legal studies, and data science. She is passionate about juvenile justice reform, constitutional law, and the role of public defenders in the legal system. Abigail’s determination to improve the criminal justice system stems from her Jewish upbringing and steadfast belief in fighting to make the world a better place. Abigail’s experience at the Montana Innocence Project and Panahpour Law inspired her to pursue a career as a federal defender and public servant. Abigail has been heavily involved in Planned Parenthood Generation Action and the Northwestern Undergraduate Prison Education Partnership. Abigail currently serves as the president of Northwestern Hillel, where she helped create a symposium which examined issues of antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and the role of Jews in social justice movements. Additionally, Abigail is a Leopold Fellow in the Northwestern’s history department, where she investigates issues of crime, girlhood, and race in New Orleans for a forthcoming book. Abigail loves hiking and climbing in her home state of Montana. She plans on pursuing a JD with an emphasis on public interest and constitutional law with the intent of becoming a public defender.
Grace is pursuing a degree in health management and policy with a concentration in public health and minor in psychology. She has nearly a decade of experience in substance use and misuse prevention and has provided training and technical assistance to community coalitions across the country to help them build the capacity to involve youth in substance use prevention and advocacy efforts. At the University of New Hampshire, she is a member of the Substance Misuse Awareness Task Force and conducts campus outreach as a Health and Wellness Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Drugs Peer Educator. She plans to pursue an MPH degree with concentrations in the social determinants of health and health policy to gain the skills necessary to develop community health interventions and policies addressing equitable access to behavioral health and substance use disorder services.
Eli studies political science, with a focus on urban politics, poverty, and inequality. After growing up in New Haven, Connecticut, Eli ran for and won a seat on his local city council, the Board of Alders, during his sophomore year at Yale. Eli has also served as the director of the Progressive Caucus in the Connecticut General Assembly for the past two years. In both of these roles and in his studies, Eli focuses on finding and implementing solutions to the high rates of poverty, homelessness, gun violence, and unemployment in New Haven and in other towns and cities around the country. After college, he intends to pursue a JD so that he can better represent and advocate for low-income families in his hometown and in similar communities. Eli plays basketball and soccer and loves biking around New Haven.
Naomi is focusing her studies in affordable and low-income housing development and policy. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Naomi has worked to build coalition across public, private, and academic sectors to create positive social change. Early on, Naomi recognized housing as the underpinning of social, mental, and physical wellbeing and as fundamental to one’s ability to access other basic rights. Her recent years’ work with the Low Income Housing Institute and an expansive set of partners centers communities in creating solutions to broken systems that intersect with housing access, including the incarceration, social service, welfare, banking, and health system. She plans to pursue a joint MUP/MPP program and continue her efforts in housing policy and community development.
Sakshi is a proud first-generation low-income (FGLI) student and Atlanta native pursuing a BA and MA in philosophy and minoring in chemistry. She is particularly passionate about issues related to mental health, advocacy for low-income individuals, and equitable access to care. Her personal and professional experiences have fueled her work related to FGLI advocacy, particularly as related to mental health and wellness, helping lead Penn First, Penn Undergraduate Health Council, and Global Women Empowerment at Penn. A Gates and Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholar, Sakshi has also engaged in volunteering and advocacy work in her hometown of Atlanta, serving as a Behavioral and Mental Health Community Action Team volunteer, a coronavirus testing site volunteer, and as a research assistant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studying the obesity crisis. Sakshi is committed to addressing needs related to mental and public health and access to care for low-income and marginalized communities, now and in the future. She plans to translate this commitment to improving care for underserved populations by pursuing a joint MD/MPH.
Hillary is a proud Texan, Indian-American, and first-generation student studying political science, economics, and pre-law. She is passionate about alleviating social invisibility in marginalized communities through voting rights and civic mobilization work for historically disenfranchised groups. As a community leader and grassroots activist, Hillary has organized electoral and issue campaigns across the state, including the Beto for Senate campaign and Battleground Texas. She founded her own successful civic empowerment organizations, lobbied city councils and legislative bodies, and managed programs providing professional resources to first-generation students and women of color. Hillary has broken records for voter registration, created civic outreach methods, and won the Diana Award for her service on the national board of the YesSheCanCampaign. Her passion for advocacy has additionally led her to serve as the youngest University of North Texas student government vice president, earned her internships at the American Civil Liberties Union and the Department of Commerce’s Office of Civil Rights, and become one of the top undergraduate moot court competitors in the country, both in 2020 and 2021. After graduation, she intends to pursue a JD and work as a voting rights attorney.
Daughter of John and Annie Shipp and sister of Alex Shipp, Olivia grew up in Chillicothe, Missouri. Her upbringing in rural Missouri led her to pursue a BS in agribusiness and an MS in applied economics. Olivia has held increasing responsibility in the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM). The youngest executive director in the organization’s history, Olivia directs the ASUM legislative internship program and four campus engagement teams across the state. University President Mun Choi noticed her work and hired Olivia as a research assistant and fiscal analyst for the UM System Office of Academic Affairs. She also serves as vice-chair of Intercampus Student Council, a student advisory board to UM System administrators, faculty, and staff. She was a member of the highly selective Litton Scholars Cohort and earned the Crabtree and John M. Deal Scholarships for her potential to be a changemaker in agriculture. The next step in accomplishing her goals is a JD in environmental law, which Olivia seeks in order to use regulations as a tool to mitigate global warming and bolster the agriculture economy.
Abby is a West Virginia native, currently pursuing a degree in political science. A proud daughter of Appalachia, she has seen many of the struggles faced by rural communities, particularly the disparities within rural education. Having experienced this environment firsthand and having lived through the 2018 West Virginia teachers’ strike, Abby dedicated herself to public service. She intends to pursue an MPP with a focus on education and social welfare policy to improve curriculum standards and address funding deficiencies in rural education. This work will help benefit communities like the one she grew up in and continues to hold close to her heart. Abby is a member of the West Virgnia University Policy Debate Team and serves as the podcast editor on the editing staff of The Daily Athenaeum, WVU’s independent student newspaper. Abby spends her free time working with nonprofit organizations like La Resolana and The National Speech and Debate Association to provide educational opportunities for students in rural areas of West Virginia.
Klarke is an American studies major with a minor in African American studies. Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, she is passionate about fostering inclusive spaces that empower marginalized communities, especially in America’s deep South. This passion is embodied by her work as the vice president and charter member for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) at the University of the South. Through the NAACP, she has created platforms and programs to address inequities within African American communities and other marginalized groups on campus. She also serves as the research assistant for the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation, a university initiative aimed at addressing the school’s history as an institution dedicated to a slave-dependent society and economy. As a research assistant, she has collaborated with students, faculty, and staff to elevate the voices of previously marginalized groups and incorporate them into the larger narrative of her university. Additionally, Klarke is a student member of the University’s Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, by which she works alongside administrators, faculty, staff, and students to create programming and institutional measures to promote equitable experiences for all members of the Sewanee community.
Coleman is a native Arkansan from Farmington, currently earning a BS in industrial engineering and a BA in political science. He founded Simple + Sweet Creamery, a small-batch ice cream store in Northwest Arkansas that donates its profits to local nonprofits that fight child hunger throughout the region. He intends to use his background in optimization, data analytics, and policy to serve his home state by offering innovative, pragmatic solutions to address the inequities faced by many Arkansans, specifically related to child hunger. Coleman has served with the Center for Community Engagement on campus to help fight food insecurity both on and off campus, and he spent the summer of 2019 serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Food Bank for the Heartland. In his free time, Coleman produces music and runs long-distance.
From Baltimore, Maryland, Claire studies environmental engineering and sustainable energy. Growing up near an urban park, she developed a deep love for the natural world, driving her to dedicate her studies and career to solving what she sees as the defining crisis of our time: climate change. A 2020 Udall Scholar, Claire is actively involved in making Princeton's campus more sustainable, leading the Princeton Student Climate Initiative, serving on Undergraduate Student Government as the inaugural Sustainability Chair, and working for the Office of Sustainability as a peer representative. Through internships at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Claire has become fascinated by the electricity grid and sees her life’s mission as decarbonizing it through sound policies and regulations. She plans to pursue an MPA in energy policy. In her spare time, she can be found birding, rock climbing, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.
Sena is majoring in environmental studies. She currently co-directs Sunrise Connecticut, a hub of the national youth-led Sunrise Movement combating climate change. She helped organize the two statewide youth climate strikes at the Connecticut State Capitol in 2019. In 2020, Sena served as lead organizer for the Sunrise Connecticut youth lobby day on climate change at the state legislature, which brought more than 150 students to Hartford. She then chaired a subcommittee on Governor Ned Lamont’s Council on Climate Change and helped on the campaigns of candidates running for state legislature. After graduation, Sena plans to pursue a joint JD/MA in environmental management to gain a well-rounded understanding of environmental issues and law. Later, she intends to run for office. Sena is passionate about climate and social justice and wants to bring that passion into politics.
Born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, Max is always quick to espouse his love for the First State. As a computer science and public policy student, he has developed a strong interest in expanding access to technical education through both policy change and direct action. In Boston, Max has worked to increase political engagement among college students, primarily through his work on the Biden campaign during the 2020 primary. In Delaware, Max interned in United States Senator Chris Coons’ office, and later served as the data director on his re-election campaign. More recently, Max managed the expedited stand-up of a $7 million COVID testing lab at Delaware State University through New Castle County government, while also launching a local educational initiative to provide coding classes to underserved youth. Max plans to pursue a JD with a concentration in education law and hopes to bring computer science education into every American high school. In his free time, Max enjoys (slowly) running half-marathons, singing, and exploring new places.
Sam is a Robertson Scholar studying history and political science, as well as prison studies at the Duke Divinity School. At the University of North Carolina, he serves as the president of the Chabad Student Group, where he works to plan programs that enrich Jewish students’ lives. He serves as the president of the Duke Moot Court Association, where he leads the school’s nationally competitive team. His experience with antisemitism on campus inspired him to create the Confronting Antisemitism course, UNC’s first course totally dedicated to educating students on historical and modern incarnations of antisemitism. Sam has worked in the Client Services Division at the Orleans Public Defenders and as an intern focused on Black-Jewish Relations at the American Jewish Committee. He hopes to build on those experiences when he pursues a JD and use his legal education as a tool for advocacy, specifically to combat antisemitism and help uplift minority communities.
Felita, majoring in life science, is a first-generation Chinese American, raised in both the United States and China. She was born in San Jose, California, but attended middle school in Shenzhen, China, where she experienced the taboo nature of reproductive health education. This experience, along with the lack of women’s health knowledge among cadet leaders at West Point, motivated her to pursue a career to serve women through health care. Felita is the vice president of the Corbin Leadership Forum, a gender diversity and inclusion club that aims to educate, empower, and inspire military women. At the Academy’s Multi-Functional Materials Laboratory, she researches biomaterials to develop cost-effective, readily-deployable innovations, such as biosensors to monitor maternal health. Her goal is to decrease maternal mortality by establishing maternal health education programs for health care providers, while providing them with the latest biomedical technologies. Upon graduation, Felita plans to pursue an MD to become an Army physician specializing in women’s health. She then hopes to earn a DrPH in order to focus on women’s health policy throughout the Asia Pacific region.