2022 Truman Scholars
Congratulations to the 2022 Truman Scholars!
The Foundation reviewed 705 files from 275 institutions. Students were nominated by their institution based on their records of leadership, public service, and academic achievement. Our Finalist Selection Committee selected 189 students from 126 institutions to interview with the Foundation’s Regional Review Panels between March 1 and April 4. The complete listing of the 2022 Truman Scholarship Finalists can be found in our News section.
In 2022, we selected 58 outstanding college students from 53 institutions as Truman Scholars. Read more about them in our Press Release. Biographies, provided by the Scholars, appear below.
Haleemat Y Adekoya
Haleemat is earning a BA in political science, with a certificate in elementary education, and an MA in teaching. As a Sherman Scholar, she is devoting her academic career to researching culturally competent practices that help ameliorate racial inequities in K-12 education. Her past experiences include teaching with Elev8 Baltimore, the Sherman Summer Math Program, and the Baltimore City Summer Academic Mentorship Program. Haleemat’s leadership ranges from serving as a student representative for Baltimore County Board of Education, to working with the Maryland State Department of Education as a Governor’s Summer Internship Fellow. Haleemat was appointed to serve as the Student Commissioner for Maryland Higher Education Commission for the 2021-22 academic year. As an aspiring educator and policy leader, she is committed to advocating for marginalized students in the public school system. Beyond her work in advocacy, teaching, and research, Haleemat is the author of The Art of Transformation: A Faith-Based Self-Care Guide to mindfulness, community building, and intentionality.
Cameron H Adkins
Cameron majors in political science with a concentration in American politics. Born and raised in Logan, a small coal mining community in the southern coalfields of West Virginia, he has dedicated himself to the problems of his community, state, and region, with a specific interest in addressing the generational poverty which plagues Appalachia. On campus, he serves as the president of the Columbia University College Republicans and senior columnist for the Columbia Political Review, for which he specializes in domestic policy. While home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cameron worked as a 2020 election official and as an executive intern for Coalfield Development, an Appalachian-based social enterprise. He intends to pursue a JD, specializing in public interest law, in order to return home to his community to advocate for effective change. Cameron enjoys spending time with his friends, exploring New York City, and riding ATVs while home.
Julian R Applebaum
Julian is an aspiring litigator studying political science, legal studies, and English. Dedicated to using the legal system to protect civil rights for marginalized communities and driven by his identity as a transgender man, he spearheaded an initiative with the ACLU of Minnesota to uphold protections for transgender students in public schools. He assisted with recruiting signatories for amicus briefs that went before the Supreme Court in Fulton v. Philadelphia and recruited 27 American mayors to the Mayors Against LGBTQ+ Discrimination Coalition. Julian discovered his passion for constitutional law while competing in moot court at the age of 14, placing as a national semi-finalist in the Marshall-Brennan Moot Court Competition. Today, he is the founder and president of Macalester’s highly ranked moot court team. Julian was recognized with the Hamre Award for service to Macalester College and the Charles W. Ferguson Endowed Prize in Public Speaking. He plans to pursue a JD, and his dream is to one day argue for transgender rights before the Supreme Court.
Lorena Bonet Velazquez
Lorena is a first-generation Cuban-American from Louisville, majoring in international studies with a minor in social justice. She is passionate about reproductive health and immigrants’ rights, and intends to pursue an MPH to dismantle the structural barriers that hinder immigrant women’s access to health care. She is in the process of institutionalizing a comprehensive, gender-inclusive sex ed curriculum she developed, a continuation of her virtual workshop series, “Let’s Talk Pleasure,” bridging conversational and informational gaps about cisgender women’s sexual anatomy and right to pleasure. Lorena understands the importance of ensuring that everyone’s basic needs are met and will continue to advocate for the rights of immigrants. She enjoys cooking for friends and dancing her heart out to Spanish Caribbean music.
Jilkiah L Bryant
Jilkiah is pursuing a degree in public health and health sciences, with minors in mathematics and African American studies. Her Mississippi roots shaped her interest in and awareness of the impacts of inadequate health care systems, motivating her work to eliminate health inequity, alongside the best and brightest of her generation. She intends to pursue an MSPH to address policy issues specific to Mississippi and health care reform. She is especially interested in public policies that affect rural low-income communities, as well as expanding health care access in rural areas across the United States that are plagued by health disparities and inequality. Jilkiah enjoys reading and building communities through service initiatives.
Fatimata D Cham
Originally from the South Bronx, Fatimata is a Muslim Gambian-Senegalese first-generation American, double majoring in government and law, and women and gender studies. She is a published poet, human rights activist, and Coca-Cola Scholar. On campus, Fatimata serves as a Center for Integrated Teaching and Learning Fellow, working with faculty and students to make classrooms more inclusive. She is also the student government’s director of equity and inclusion, a Gateway Career Services Ambassador, Kaleidoscope Social Justice Peer Educator, president of both Girl Up Lafayette and the Muslim Student Association. Outside of school, Fatimata is the co-founder of Safe Guarding People at Risk, dedicated to improving safeguarding systems for survivors of abuse, and founder of Muslims Matter, an online community focused on combating Islamophobia around the world. Fatimata centers her work around uplifting people from minoritized backgrounds to build a world around justice and equity. Fatimata hopes to pursue an MA in global affairs and a concentration in women and gender studies.
Ji Hye Choi
An aspiring wrongful convictions attorney, Ji Hye Choi is a child of Korean immigrants and was born and raised on the island of Guam. She is studying political science and Asian American studies and has a certificate in civic engagement. Passionate about criminal justice and prison reform, Ji Hye hopes to advocate for incarcerated people’s rights, address prison conditions that adversely affect incarcerated people, and challenge the harsh policies and consequences of mass incarceration. She is currently an intern at the Center on Wrongful Convictions and serves as co-president of the Undergraduate Prison Education Partnership, which cultivates collaboration between Evanston undergraduates and incarcerated students in the Northwestern Prison Education Program. Additionally, Ji Hye is a Brady Scholar in the Brady Program in Ethics and Civic Life and has served on the executive boards for the Korean American Student Association and Womxn in Law. She intends to pursue a JD with an emphasis on public interest and wrongful convictions to uncover the distinct ways in which Pacific Islanders are represented and treated in the criminal justice system. In her free time, Ji Hye loves to dance ballet, sing, and play the ukulele.
Originally from Franklin, Mariah is a first-generation college student majoring in forestry. Prior to enrolling at the University of Vermont, she served over 1,600 hours with AmeriCorps. As crew leader, she managed on-the-ground operations to restore ecosystems, protect endangered species, and expand recreation opportunities on public lands. Between projects, she hiked the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, which strengthened her passion for public land conservation. These experiences motivated her to pursue a public service career, and in 2020, she joined the United States Forest Service as a wildland firefighter. She serves as treasurer for her university’s chapter of the Society of American Foresters, participates in the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Scholars program, and recently joined the Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management. Mariah interns with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, where she assists agricultural producers in implementing conservation practices and reducing environmental degradation. She intends to pursue an MFS at the Yale School of the Environment, where she hopes her research on temperate agroforestry systems will contribute to an understudied field and inform climate smart policies.
Born in Richmond, Alton’s passion for socioeconomic justice derives from the scarcity of adequate opportunities for educational advancement in his community. A Jackie Robinson and William & Mary Scholar, he seeks to foster community, empowerment, and healing to each setting he joins. Alton currently serves as the Undersecretary of Multicultural Affairs of William & Mary’s Student Assembly, responsible for ensuring quality programming for the student body concerning equity matters. In this role, he assisted in the university’s first-ever Sankofa Legacy Festival, showcasing the beauty and brilliance of the Black American experience and involving Black businesses, performances, and the arts. Alton’s interest in constitutional law is served by his research with William & Mary Law School’s Center for Racial & Social Justice on disproportionate uses of racial discipline in public school settings. He serves as president of the African American Male Coalition, a safe space for the College’s multicultural male students and faculty to receive free food, haircuts, and showcase vulnerability as strength through meaningful conversations. Alton intends to pursue a joint MEd/JD to combine his interests in education and law to protect the civil rights of students in public education settings.
Originally from Miami, Gabriel is a Cuban-American student studying political science. Driven by his personal experience with climate change growing up in Florida, he is committed to a career of climate action. Gabriel helped lead the movement to bring Amherst College to sustainability and worked through the student senate thereafter to continue his activism on campus. He interned with the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Energy and Environment team and at the Environmental Advocacy Center at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law. During the pandemic, Gabriel took a leave of absence from school to work as an Emergency Medical Technician and as a consumer advocate with the Massachusetts State Attorney General’s Office. He hopes to pursue a dual JD/MA program in environmental law and science to effectively advocate for climate action.
James H Elliott II
James Harvey Elliott II is majoring in African American and African diaspora studies with a concentration in political science. Incarcerated at age 19, James discovered that the college courses offered in prison provided him a golden opportunity for self-development. Upon his release, he enrolled in Delaware Technical Community College. There he began to advocate for prison education, serving as the catalyst for the College to participate in the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative. He was elected international president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. James plans to pursue a JD and hopes to establish a nonprofit enabling colleges and prisons to collaborate more easily. He is the proud father of a four-year-old daughter, Vaeda Jade.
Adam H Elzarka
Adam is a Cincinnati native studying medical sciences and liberal arts. He is committed to mitigating barriers to education and health equity, especially those faced by refugees and immigrants. He currently serves as president of Refuge-UC, an organization that promotes higher education among refugee and immigrant students through mentorship. Inspired by his time volunteering as a Refuge mentor, he has also conducted public health research on improving the students’ health literacy rates. He is furthering this work by co-founding Refuge Collaborative, a soon-to-be nonprofit focused on empowering refugee adolescents. Additionally, Adam can be found in the emergency department working as part of the Early Intervention Program by which provides education and support to address the mental health, sexual health, and substance use stigmas that underserved patients encounter. Adam has interned with USAID and is currently studying abroad in Oman as a Boren Scholar. Upon graduation, he intends to complete a year of service before pursuing a joint MD/MS in health policy research and is interested in leveraging policy to form community-led solutions that promote refugee health.
Tal is double majoring in economics and mathematics and is interested in using data science and artificial intelligence (AI) within the US government. As an intern last year, he built AI models for the US Department of State, after which he was promoted to manage a team of interns on the same project. Recently, he worked at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, where he created cutting-edge AI for monitoring and ensuring international financial stability. He has published papers on using AI for foreign policy and making AI fairer. At Wake Forest, Tal served as president of Hillel and co-founded the Collegiate Association for Inequality Research (CAIR), an organization that mentors undergraduates in research on inequality and disseminates this research via international conferences. This year, while studying abroad at the London School of Economics, he continued his work for the Federal Reserve and has given several presentations on the applications of AI at the US Embassy in London. Tal hopes to bring emerging technologies, such as AI, to the government so it can better serve its constituents.
Born on the Muckleshoot reservation in Auburn, Rosalie is a student-athlete majoring in social welfare with a focus on policy. She is a devoted advocate for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), Girls, and TwoSpirit crisis, and uses her platform as an athlete to raise awareness towards Indigenous issues. Rosalie serves as a Tribal Engagement Specialist at the Washington State Coalition of Domestic Violence. She seeks to use her education to center social welfare in tribal communities, as well as to implement policies that would actively combat the MMIW crisis, such as affordable housing, accessible advocates, community engagement, and environmental justice. Rosalie has given multiple TEDTalks on the subject of preventing violence in Indigenous communities, as well as testifying on legislation in Washington state on behalf of local tribes and to amplify their voices.
Andy A Flores
Originally from Ocean Springs, Andy is a proud first-generation college student studying public policy leadership and philosophy. He is devoted to advancing educational opportunity and facilitating social progress in Mississippi. On campus, he serves as the inaugural president of the First-Generation Student Network, chair of the Lott Leadership Institute, and Principal of Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement of the Associated Student Body. Off campus, Andy is an Afro-Latinx Líderes Avanzando Fellow with UnidosUS, where he is cultivating skills in grassroots civil rights advocacy and crafting policy recommendations to Congress aimed at equitable K-12 education reform. Recently, in response to a state proposal that threatened to eliminate Mississippi’s only financial aid grant for low-income students, Andy founded HelpSaveHELP, a statewide movement to mobilize support for working-class families, which has generated support from Mississippi legislators, nonprofits, and advocacy groups. His upbringing as a low-income Mexican/Afro-Panamanian informs his lifelong commitment to empowering and uplifting marginalized communities. He hopes to pursue a JD with a focus on education law and policy to ensure all students have equal access to a high-quality education. Above all, he loves people.
Beatrix A Frissell
Beatrix Frissell is a Presidential Leadership Scholar studying political science and environmental science and sustainability. Originally from Polson, on the Flathead Indian Reservation, she is passionate about ensuring the needs of minorities and other institutionally oppressed groups are at the center of environmental policy. As an intern for the US Department of the Interior’s Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance, she helped develop a tool to identify environmental justice communities around hazardous waste sites for the Central and Hazardous Materials Fund. On campus, Beatrix has brought her interests in the environment, leadership, and equity to the Mansfield Center Student Advisory Council, SEA Change Initiative, and the athlete community. She is currently co-captain of the cross country team, a leader of the student-athlete advisory council, and advocate for transgender athletes in Montana and across the Big Sky Conference. She is also completing an honors thesis on gender equity in the University of Montana athletic department. Beatrix will pursue a joint MPA/MS to effectively guarantee environmental justice for marginalized communities in the Northwest. In her free time, she is an avid trail runner, baker, and blood donor.
Robyn L Griffitts-Harper
Robyn studies history, Spanish language and literature, and human geography, which together create the foundation to inform their work as a future housing attorney. Through a comprehensive and rigorous history curriculum, Robyn embraces an approach to policy solutions that considers international and intersectional factors, utilizing their knowledge of global trends and patterns to better inform advocacy within the United States. Robyn is passionate about expanding access to housing and mitigating discrimination based on ability, race, and sexual orientation. They plan to pursue a JD to represent clients at risk of eviction, experiencing homelessness, or facing discrimination, as well as to support community members through free or sliding-scale legal advice. Robyn also plans to conduct policy research and analysis to produce nuanced and locally specific housing initiatives to increase the supply of affordable housing across the country. Robyn enjoys reading and discussing pathways toward a more equitable and accessible society with friends and colleagues.
Christine J Groves
Christine is a mechanical engineering major conducting research on renewable energy technologies, as she seeks to address environmental pollution and climate change. To support the LGBTQ+ community, Christine founded the US Coast Guard Academy’s Transgender Committee within the Spectrum Council to promote gender equality and to build an inclusive and welcoming environment. Her actions within the Coast Guard Office of Inclusion and Diversity provided recommendations to its LGBTQ+ policy supporting transgender members. She is also involved in the coordination of the 2022 Holocaust Studies Symposium through which cadets are trained in moral standing and the ability to recognize the warning signs of polarization, hatred, and conflict that can lead to mass atrocities. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Christine provided academic and emotional assistance as a mentor to local schools in Connecticut. She plans to pursue an MPP/MSc in sustainable energy engineering, with a research focus on direct air carbon capture technologies. She enjoys leading the Academy’s Drama Club, as well as playing with the Windjammers drum and bugle corps.
Avi studies political science and computer science with specializations in American politics and artificial intelligence (AI). Avi’s background in AI engineering and public policy informs his passion for public service at the intersection of technology and policy. Avi intends to pursue a JD to harness law as a tool for crafting effective policy. He envisions a system of common-sense policies that address the harmful impacts of emerging technology while unlocking its transformative potential to build a more equitable, effective, and responsive government. He is particularly interested in combating political polarization by reexamining the role of social media algorithms in promoting misinformation. Avi enjoys playing basketball, exploring new cuisines, and walking Zaylie, the family labradoodle.
Beyonce is a first-generation Ghanaian-American from Moore. She is majoring in political science with a concentration in pre-law and leadership studies. She serves as chair of the diversity and inclusion committee for the University of Central Oklahoma’s Student Association, using her platform to represent and elevate student voices from underrepresented communities. She is also a member of the University’s prestigious President's Leadership Council. Beyonce has continually spent her time working with the Oklahoma House of Representatives, giving her a firsthand understanding of how vital criminal justice reform laws are to our nation. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a JD focusing on civil rights and criminal justice, with the goal of breaking down the barriers faced by underrepresented communities. Through her work in litigation, legislation, and advocacy, she hopes to correct the injustices in the criminal justice system and work to overturn wrongful sentences and protect civil liberties. In her free time, she enjoys going on spontaneous road trip adventures with family and friends, listening to old R&B, and reading.
Abril N Hunter
Abril majors in environmental science and policy and minors in urban and regional planning and social welfare. Growing up Black in the Midwest, Abril was exposed to the inextricable correlation between environmental injustice and race through the Flint water crisis. When she watched the water turn from clear to brown, she felt as though her own water was no longer safe, but rather, something contingent upon not only location but race. With this in mind, Abril dedicates her time to researching and evaluating environmental injustice. She has served as a Science Communication Undergraduate Fellow at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center, an Environment Florida Student Outreach Intern, and a DEIJ Intern for the Chesapeake Bay Research Consortium. Recently, she was recognized with the 2021 NOAA Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Award and will be interning with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science this summer. Abril aspires to make tangible changes in the life of minorities facing environmental injustice in housing through advocacy, grassroots action, and policy changes.
Bhav is interested in global health care delivery and transforming clinical care as a future physician-policymaker. His research spans oncology delivery, health disparities, and health systems transformation, and has been published in outlets such as Nature Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Annals of Surgical Oncology, and American Journal of Managed Care. Additionally, he engages with undergraduate students and physicians across 20 states through his nonprofit organization, The Connected Foundation, which forges intergenerational connections between youth and seniors, and partners with health care systems to support seniors transitioning from inpatient or clinical to home-based care.
From Stamford, Ali studies public health with a concentration in health care administration and a minor in management. Through her studies, she strives to better understand the intricacies of the American health care system, with intentions of expanding access, improving quality, and lowering costs. On campus, Ali’s passion for research and social justice has allowed her to conduct Manhattan College’s first diversity and equity campus climate evaluation, paving the way for the implementation of policies centered around improving resource accessibility and discrimination/harassment awareness for students of color. Additionally, as a Community Outreach Intern with NewYork-Presbyterian, she has helped provide preventive care services to Black and Brown communities throughout Harlem. Specifically, Ali led community outreach efforts for multiple COVID-19 pop-up vaccination clinics, providing education about the importance of primary health. After graduation, Ali plans to pursue an MPH with concentrations in health care management and global health, exploring how health care delivery systems in lower- and middle-income countries can be used to make America’s system more equitable.
An economics and political science double major, Jack believes in the promise of the American Dream and is committed to developing policy that catalyzes socioeconomic mobility. His experiences serving his community, from leading a program providing free ACT preparation tutoring for low-income students to mentoring elementary school students at risk for incarceration, imbued in him an awareness of the barriers to achievement faced by historically marginalized and low-income communities and a passion for helping to tear those barriers down. Working at various social impact organizations and as an intern for US Senator Mitt Romney, Jack developed innovative new solutions and improved existing mechanisms to drive investment into under-resourced communities. He plans to pursue an MPP with a focus on education and economic development, and intends to work as a Congressional policy director, crafting and enacting legislation that strengthens and modernizes educational and economic development systems. Jack enjoys playing basketball, debating hypotheticals, using Oxford commas, and making lists of his favorite activities.
Born in Sierra Leone, Sawa spent her early childhood years in a conflict zone before immigrating to the United States. Accordingly, she has a keen understanding of the socioeconomic impact of government corruption and uses her experiences to inform, advocate, and organize, while studying for her BA in public policy. As a community advocate, Sawa has compelled landlords to maintain habitable properties via legal measures, including the passage of an initiative granting Prince George’s County the authority to impose fines and penalties on those in noncompliance. As a grassroots organizer, she initiated a revitalization project in Takoma Park, which included a campaign for city council, a food distribution center, and a substantial grant. While honored when her community presented her with Sawa’s Hope Circle, a street named for her efforts, Sawa finds her greatest satisfaction in the elevation and empowerment of others, believing that community is collectively strongest when others are inspired to work together sustainably and proactively. She plans to redesign public housing by using proven international methods in combination with innovative and adaptable strategies pursuant to each community and its needs, and to hold accountable those who would sow the seeds of corruption or otherwise undermine the efforts of the traditionally underserved and marginalized.
Amisha A Kambath
Amisha studies social studies and economics. Committed to a life motivated by justice, she is interested in the criminal legal system writ large, with a particular focus on the intersecting threads of economic opportunity, violence, urban economic development, policing, and alternatives to incarceration. Her background in various academic disciplines to interrogate these threads – through sociology, economics, history, political theory, and literature – motivate her belief in the necessity of a multi-pronged and interdisciplinary approach to addressing issues such as the persistence of violence and economic marginality in high-crime neighborhoods. She intends to pursue a JD/PhD to study the architecture of the criminal legal system and examine alternate models of economic policy to challenge existing paradigms of economic development. Amisha also loves spending time outdoors on walks or playing basketball, and listening to and reading about music analysis.
Hana is a second-generation Pakistani immigrant studying biology and public health as a Belk Scholar. Experiences of losing loved ones fueled her interest in health care equity, neglected tropical diseases (NTD), and Alzheimer's research at the Wake Forest Center for Precision Medicine. Hana serves as a certified Emergency Medical Technician with the Davidson Fire Department, volunteer coordinator for the Ada Jenkins Free Clinic, and longstanding emergency department volunteer. She also serves on a student hiring panel as part of the Student Initiative to Increase Academic Diversity, mentors first-generation college students as part of Strategies for Success, and is an alumna of the HHMI-funded FIRST Action Team. She intends to pursue an MD/MPH focused on infectious disease, health care equity, and medical practice in developing countries to address global health care disparities. She is particularly interested in addressing global disparities in low-income nations, such as NTD vaccine development and increasing access to resources necessary to ensure wellbeing, such as education, sanitation, food, and medicine. In her free time, she enjoys interfaith community events, drawing henna designs, and watching foreign films.
Eshika studies economics and peace and justice, weaving together economic theory and conflict transformation practices to understand ways to create sustainable institutional change. Her passion for harnessing the power of grassroots activism and coalition building to advocate for change stemmed from her successes founding programs to support mental health and diversity initiatives in her hometown. At Wellesley, Eshika is a leader in civic engagement, expanding service opportunities for students by establishing partnerships with local nonprofits. She works alongside lawyers, accountants, and law students at the Harvard Legal Services Center Federal Tax Clinic to advocate for low-income taxpayers with IRS controversies. She has personally leveraged her tax certification to secure tens of thousands of dollars in benefits for under-resourced clients, including formerly incarcerated individuals and survivors of interpersonal violence. Interested in rooting her activism in data-driven principles, she has presented her research on the long-term impact of childhood trauma and is currently analyzing the obstacles faced by marginalized communities through a microeconomic lens. Eshika believes that targeted financial support is one of the most fundamental mechanisms by which women and families can empower themselves. She plans on pursuing a JD with the intent of challenging systemic injustices as a lawyer, community organizer, and public servant.
Liana S Keesing
Passionate about the intersection of democracy and emerging technology, Liana is pursuing a joint BS/MS in electrical engineering with a minor in physics. An honors candidate with Stanford's Center for Ethics in Society, her thesis focuses on the ethical design of “smart” surveillance systems. An ardent technologist, she is the co-founder and chief technology officer of a startup developing low-cost, machine-learning-enabled sensor systems for agriculture and defense applications. Equally committed to public policy and the political process, she co-led Stanford's nonpartisan voter engagement effort in 2020 and now directs projects for a national student voting organization. A Division I athlete, Liana is a captain of the Stanford fencing team and helped lead the fight against Stanford's cancellation of almost a dozen athletic programs. Liana plans to follow her engineering degrees with an MS in technology and policy. She aspires to work within the government to unleash the immense potential of emerging technologies for public good.
Liberty R Ladd
Liberty studies mechanical engineering and political science. A member of Air Force ROTC, she hopes to commission as an Intelligence Officer in the Space Force upon graduation. When she worked with the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project to ensure the 2020 election cycle was safe and equitable, her passion was ignited for improving the equity and representativeness of US elections. Her goal is to remove implicit and explicit barriers to voting and to ensure the representative nature of American democracy is upheld. Liberty plays varsity field hockey (#RollTech), competes with MIT Mock Trial, and researches in both the mechanical engineering and political science departments. She was appointed by the Governor of Maine to the State Board of Education, where she represented Maine’s 1st Congressional District. She interned for US Senator Jon Ossoff’s judiciary policy team and will be working for the Department of State’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs this summer. She intends to pursue an MS in political science with a focus on American elections. In her free time, she enjoys keeping Dunkin' in business.
Jamie studies political science and Latin American studies. He is also interested in the complex challenges of global development and the intersection between economic, political, and social development. Guided by this interest in global development and his passion for Latin America, Jamie intends to pursue a MA in development economics, and then spend his time in the Air Force helping to shape the relationship between the US military and sustainable development practices in the Western Hemisphere. After his service in the Air Force, Jamie hopes to transition to the civilian international development community to continue addressing these multifaceted challenges throughout Latin America. In his free time, Jamie enjoys competing on the Air Force Academy triathlon team, exploring the Rocky Mountains with classmates, and reading historical fiction.
Jessica S Lau
Jessica is double majoring in psychology and human development and family studies with minors in peace studies and communicology. Her background in the social sciences, passion for social-emotional wellbeing, and awareness of cultural dissonance in youth have led her to pursue a career in education, research, and advocacy for diverse and inclusive settings. She currently teaches local educators about a multi-tiered system of support that helps them address the academic, behavioral, and social needs of all students. She researches the integrity and validity of this model to use schoolwide data to connect students at the first sign of concern to the support they need to succeed. Upon completion of her BA and MA in psychology and educational psychology, she will teach at local schools to share evidence-based practices. She will then pursue her PhD in educational policy and evaluation at Arizona State University to inform future policy decisions that enable school success. Overall, she aims to use her work to not only reduce the cultural dissonance of minority students, but also alleviate the mental health crisis and stigma towards emotional and behavioral disorders in society.
From Birmingham, Allen is a political science and economics double major with a minor in philosophy. On campus, he dedicates himself to making Auburn’s campus more inclusive and accessible. Through his roles in student government, Allen advocated for campus-wide initiatives, such as DEI training, inclusive housing, grading policy, and pre-professional test prep courses. He has also conducted research on democracy building in western Germany post-World War II. He is passionate about exploring the intersectionality of AAPI and LGBTQIA+, interning at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) while also serving on HRC’s AAPI Queer Visibility Working Group. In this working group, he helped plan HRC’s first-ever AAPI & Proud Summit, engaging hundreds of queer Asians throughout the nation to discuss ways to mobilize politically and address issues affecting the community, such as an increase in pandemic-related hate crimes. Allen plans to pursue a JD, focusing his work in the judiciary as a legal advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights. Long term, he hopes to serve as an Associate Justice, bringing AAPI Queer representation to the Supreme Court. In his free time, Allen enjoys running, figure skating, traveling, and hanging out with his best friends: Sierra, Abby, Molly, and Maggie.
John C Lin
John is studying health systems and policy and biology. He aspires to improve health care access for underserved communities and advance health equity using insights from his medical, policy, and research experiences. He founded the Medical Literacy and Access Project, a national organization that helps provide medical access using patient guides and tools to find doctors and affordable care in eight languages. John has proposed, written, and passed legislation to counter anti-Asian hate, receiving a commendation for public service from the Texas House of Representatives. John has authored 14 peer-reviewed articles, which have been featured in journals such as Eye, Journal of Surgical Education, and Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology. He plans to pursue an MD/MPA to help build a more equitable health care system through medicine, policy, and research. In his free time, he loves sketching maps and buildings, jogging and cycling through city parks, and playing table and court tennis.
Erin is a political science and philosophy double major with an interest in international human rights. A deep interest in human rights prompted Erin to start organizing protests as an adolescent and it continues to motivate her involvement in political organizing as an adult. Erin worked as a field organizer for the Medicaid Expansion Campaign in Missouri, the adoption of which has made nearly 300,000 people eligible for health care coverage. At the onset of the pandemic, Erin made a full-time commitment to service by joining AmeriCorps. She engaged in direct service at pantries and food distributions, she redesigned a nonprofit’s hunger education curriculum, she created a four-part project aimed at engaging young girls in public service, and she started a sustainability initiative to reuse more than 8,000 pounds of unrecyclable plastic annually. In addition to AmeriCorps, Erin volunteered as a civics instructor with the International Rescue Committee. While studying abroad, she has spent her free time working on projects to engage the local refugee population and hold elected officials accountable for their treatment of migrants in court proceedings. She intends to pursue a JD/MA to prepare for a legal career advocating on behalf of refugees and asylum-seekers.
Madison I Marsh
Madison studies astrophysics and serves as the president and founder of her nonprofit, The Whitney Marsh Foundation. After losing her mother to pancreatic cancer, she is dedicated to raising awareness and changing cancer policy. She has raised over $180,000 for pancreatic cancer research and had the opportunity to speak to Congressional members about instituting her preliminary blood testing program. Madison plans to pursue an MPP and, eventually, a PhD in cosmology. She is passionate about continuing both career paths as a pancreatic cancer advocate and an astronaut to advance medical and astrophysical knowledge. Beyond her work, Madison enjoys competing in pageants, flying planes, and cooking...preferably pasta or desserts!
Kelsey E Matthews
Kelsey is a first-generation college student, mental health provider, community activist, advocate, and four-time pageant titleholder across Connecticut and Nevada. Majoring in social work in the Honors College, she has a heart for those affected by substance abuse, advocating passionately for recovery and dedicating her life’s work both as a volunteer and an employed professional for Vegas Stronger and CrossRoads of Southern Nevada. She is also trained and certified in Overdose Prevention and Rescue and is a carrier of Narcan. As a National Ambassador for Shatterproof, Kelsey has been actively involved with the Nevada Senate, assisting in passing Assembly Bill 374 and Senate Bill 390 in 2021, both related to substance abuse. She is also a member of the National Mobilize Recovery Conference, sits on the State Committee for the Nevada Recovery Advocacy Project, and on the Board of Directors for H.O.P.E Compassionate health care. As a pageant titleholder, Kelsey can be seen speaking and volunteering throughout her community and state, using her crown to give back. She designed her platform, The Treasuring Tracey Project, to bring awareness to the opioid crisis that plagues our nation and which took her mother's life in 2016. Kelsey plans to earn an MSW/JD, ultimately to become an attorney and eventually run for office, advocating for social justice, legislative change, and the best interest of the public.
Ranen studies political science, sociology, and women, gender, and sexuality studies. Currently, he is serving his second term as student body president, where he works on promoting menstrual equity, investing in culturally-competent and affirming mental health care, expanding access to gender-neutral restrooms, and tackling food and housing insecurity. He concurrently serves as president for the WashU College Democrats and the Debate Team, and on the state level, serves as the LGBTQ+ Caucus Chairperson for the Missouri College Democrats, where he advocated for an end to HIV criminalization. Ranen is particularly interested in leveraging policy and litigation to expand legal protections for LGBTQ+ people and couples. Accordingly, he plans to pursue a JD specializing in civil rights. After his graduate studies, he intends to work with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ and HIV Project on civil rights litigation. In his free time, Ranen enjoys singing with his a capella group, volunteering to support unhoused St. Louisians with Tent Mission STL, and spending time with friends.
Armando A Montero
Armando is a junior in Barrett, the Honors College, pursuing concurrent degrees in political science, economics, and mathematics (statistics). Over the past several years, he has worked in state and local politics tackling issues he is passionate about, including mental health, strong and equitable public education, civic engagement, voting rights, and fair economic opportunity. Previously, he has worked with organizations such as the Arizona Students’ Association, Arizona AFL-CIO, March for Our Lives AZ, and other local and statewide political campaigns. In 2020, he was elected to the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board, becoming the youngest person ever elected to the post. In this role, he has crafted ambitious, wide-reaching policies to significantly expand mental health resources for students. He also works as a policy analyst for ASU and plans to earn his JD at its Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. He hopes to pursue a career as an attorney for an education nonprofit and run for elected office in Arizona to help improve the quality of public education in Arizona.
Abrianna E Morales
Abrianna studies psychology and criminology with a minor in math. After being sexually assaulted at the age of 15, she founded Sexual Assault Youth Support Network (SAYSN) – an organization devoted to the support, empowerment, and connection of youth sexual assault survivors and those that support them. Through her work with SAYSN, she has had the opportunity to collaborate with the National Organization for Victim Assistance on numerous projects, including a US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women grant to provide training and technical assistance to college campuses invested in preventing sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. Abrianna is dedicated to bringing a strong academic foundation to victims’ services and policy reform; as a McNair Scholar, she is conducting research on stakeholders’ experiences of procedural justice in light of pandemic-era changes to the courts. She intends to pursue a joint JD/PhD at the intersection of law, psychology, and criminology as it pertains to victims of crime, for the purposes of advancing progressive criminal justice reform that furthers victims’ rights and experiences of justice within the legal system.
A transfer student and Richard Rubin Scholar, Owen is pursuing a political science degree in the honors program. Having been directly affected by parental incarceration and raised by a single-parent household, he is dedicated to helping others overcome the structural barriers of economic hardship. Owen is campus leader in the Petey Greene program, has worked as a middle-school classroom teacher, and as a volunteer with an NGO focused on disrupting cyclical poverty through ESL education in Peru. His commitment to public policy has led him to work on over ten political campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels. In his role on US Senator Ed Markey’s re-election campaign, he recruited campaign fellows, led volunteer trainings, and organized fundraising events. Recently, he managed a successful Boston area city council campaign, hiring and overseeing multiple staff members and a $60,000 budget. Active on campus, Owen serves as a leader on the LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, College Democrats, mock trial team, and as News Editor of The Swarthmore Phoenix. He is also currently a district intern for a Member of Congress. Upon completion of a joint JD/MPA, Owen plans to become a public interest lawyer, tackling systemic poverty, educational inequality, and mass incarceration
Mariama L Mwilambwe
Originally from Bloomington, Mariama became interested in public service at a young age by spending summers helping her Dad, Mboka, walk through the neighborhoods of his ward, solving local municipal issues and connecting with community members. On campus, Mariama serves as student trustee, and has spent her time at the University of Illinois advocating for food insecure communities, most recently through the newly founded campus food pantry. While interning for the MacArthur Justice Center, she became passionate about eradicating noncommunicable diseases in vulnerable populations – such as within the US prison system– by improving nutrition through sustainable agriculture. Her focus on food injustice has been supported by her coursework in political science and global health, and she plans to pursue a JD/MPH to continue advocating for the end of food totalitarianism, and improving health outcomes through food sovereignty. Mariama currently interns for the Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor through the Justice, Equity, and Opportunity Initiative, and the Education Justice Project. In her free time, Mariama enjoys being with her huge family, making French pastries, and reading outdoors.
Xalma M Palomino
Xalma was born and raised in Detroit, as the proud daughter of a single mother who immigrated to the US over 20 years ago. Beginning at a young age, her family taught her the importance of education, community, resilience, and determination. Xalma is a double majoring in political science and Latina/o studies. Her leadership and service centers around Latinx and other minoritized communities, particularly focusing on educational access, representation, and voting rights. As a student leader, she served as the Lead Director of La Casa, U-M’s central Latinx organization, where she oversaw a college success model that supports and advocates for the Latinx community on campus. She also designed the Latinx Vote Initiative, leading other Latinx student organizations from universities across the state of Michigan on voting efforts and political engagement strategies. Believing that every vote matters, she intends to pursue graduate studies in public policy to continue a career that challenges political inequalities that oppose democracy and prevent minority communities from participating in the electoral process.
Veronica Bonifacio Penales
Veronica majors in international studies and professional writing and rhetoric with a minor in women and gender studies and political science. She is a member of the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and Honors Program. Her upcoming thesis will analyze the extent and interpretation of religious exemptions pertaining to institutional discriminatory practices. Motivated by her own experiences and dedication to fighting for causes bigger than herself, Veronica is passionate about guaranteeing the equal treatment of all, especially those who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community, and protecting women’s right to bodily autonomy. She hopes to earn her JD/MPP and work as a litigation attorney and advocate for marginalized and disenfranchised individuals, and then serve as a senior legal counsel at a nonprofit organization, and potentially run for public office. Her biggest inspiration is her younger brother, and she hopes to continue fighting for a more equitable society for the rest of her career.
Raised in the US and China, Emily is a computer engineering student dedicated to strengthening our nation’s cyber policy regarding East Asia. Her background in computer networking and experience living in both Beijing and Hong Kong have led her to study the implications of Internet censorship for international relations and cyberspace norms. Emily has interned with the US Department of Defense in several capacities, where her work in open-source analytics is actively used for network boundary defense. She has also performed extensive research dedicated to monitoring air quality in Mongolian yurts with the Network Embedded Technologies Lab at BYU. Upon graduation, Emily intends to pursue a degree in engineering and public policy to become a leader in developing US cybersecurity approaches for the East Asian region. When she is not working with 1s and 0s, Emily is deeply involved in mentoring students in her home community in math and reading. She also works as a piano accompanist for BYU’s ballet company classes and enjoys collaborating with other musicians.
Natalia V Rios Martinez
Natalia was born in San Juan, and is studying political science, international studies, and public relations. As a Puerto Rican, she wants to prioritize restructuring the Island’s failing and discriminatory health care system through legislation. Her work focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion. While interning at the Iowa Department of Transportation Civil Rights Bureau, Natalia assisted in redesigning the Bureau’s website to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 by implementing visual and hearing-impaired guidelines. Currently, she is interning at the US Department of Justice, Community Relations Services, where she assists with casework to ease community tension stemming from bias-based incidents or hate crimes. She is also a research assistant, studying legal deserts in the United States. Natalia plans to complete a master's in American government. Subsequently, she hopes to earn a joint JD/PhD in civil rights and government. Health care access and its intersectionality with the criminal legal system is one of Natalia’s passions. As a civil rights advocate, she aspires to become a trial attorney to address systematic racial inequalities and decrease health disparities among minoritized and underrepresented communities. Outside of class, Natalia enjoys volunteering and spending time with animals.
Dawry is a first generation Dominican-American from Boston studying community and nonprofit leadership with a certificate in arts and teaching. He is a scholar in the 12th cohort of the First Wave Hip-Hop & Urban Arts four-year scholarship program. At a young age, he began as an artist but expanded into community organizing and creative youth development through education. He intends to pursue an MA in arts administration or EdM in education leadership, organizations, and entrepreneurship in order to bridge the gaps of access and quality programming and opportunities in Black and Brown communities. He is particularly interested in coordinating programs that encourage nonprofit and organizational collaboration to push for a more diverse skill set in arts curriculums in and out of school. In addition to being a teaching artist, Dawry released an EP in 2021, recently scored a documentary film, and is writing and composing a hip-hop theater production.
The child of Togolese immigrants and a low-income student herself, Oksanna has seen firsthand how medical bias and health care inaccessibility push thousands of underrepresented people away from the care they desperately need. As a result, she has dedicated herself to advocating for the physical, emotional, and social health of historically marginalized individuals. As both the inaugural diversity and inclusion officer and the second-ever Black Chief of CrimsonEMS, Harvard's student-run emergency medical service, she works to directly address provider biases and increase patient agency. She has also served on the executive boards of the Harvard University Black Health Advocates and the Harvard Black Premedical Society, researched vaccine credential hesitancy rates among people of color, and volunteered as a COVID-19 tester. Outside of Harvard, Oksanna has directed efforts to provide wellness supplies for Black and Indigenous people affected by the murder of George Floyd in her native Minneapolis. A Gates Scholar, global health student, and life-long advocate, Oksanna intends to pursue an MD/MPH and use preventive medicine to combat pervasive racial health disparities.
Maddi S Schink
Maddi is an environmental studies major and education minor interested in topics of environmental justice, law, and policy. After attending the Teaching and Research in Environmental Education (TREE) Semester at Colorado College, she found her calling and now hopes to pursue an MEd in environmental education. Her career goal is to contribute to existing policy efforts to advance access to outdoor learning experiences and their associated benefits for all kids. In addition to promoting environmental literacy, Maddi is passionate about firearm safety and has worked with community partners on projects addressing high suicide rates in El Paso County. As a Colorado native, Maddi is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys running, backpacking, and photography. She is spending the semester in Cusco, Peru, to improve her Spanish and learn more about Indigenous Peoples and globalization.
Katie studies political science, global food systems leadership, and Spanish. Seeing the connections between international affairs, languages, and agriculture has led her to focus on multilateral collaboration on global issues. Through much of her time at Kansas State University, she has worked as a coordinator of International Service Teams, which has allowed her to increase her understanding of intercultural communication and relations. This position took her to The Gambia and will take her to the Dominican Republic this summer. Additionally, she has been involved with International Buddies, Food Security Scholars, the Student Governing Association as the Campus Culture Director, and the Food Recovery Network. She plans to pursue an MSFS to prepare her to work worldwide in a career as a Foreign Service Officer within the US Department of State.
Cooper E Smith
Cooper is a junior studying political science, history, and Spanish. While working with the Innocence Project of Florida, Cooper reviewed dozens of cases of wrongful convictions from across the state, drafting post-conviction DNA motions and meeting with clients in prison. He continues to work with the Project to prove their clients’ innocence. Cooper also served at the Legal Aid Society of Louisville, where he drafted criminal record expungement petitions and helped clients navigate Kentucky’s unemployment insurance backlog during the pandemic.
After graduation, he plans to build upon his previous legal nonprofit experiences while pursuing a joint JD/MPA program. Cooper believes his graduate degrees will prepare him for a legal career combating the punitive economic restrictions that people with criminal convictions face long after they have completed their official criminal sentences.
Irene is a student activist working to support survivors of armed conflict and develop interorganizational networks and international infrastructure to predict, prevent, stop, and punish genocide and other severe violations of human rights, particularly within the Middle East. She serves as the founding director of the Student Coalition for Refugees, the founding president of UConn’s Human Rights Symposium, and a co-founder of UConn’s Middle Eastern Cultural Programs. She represents students as the Speaker of UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government and through her positions on numerous university committees. Most recently, Irene was named a Newman Civic Fellow, a United Nations Millennium Fellow, and a BOLD Scholar. She was also awarded the President’s Commitment to Community Initiative Award, and was inducted into the University of Connecticut's Leadership Legacy Cohort of 2021. Irene’s research interests lie at the intersection of cognitive science and armed conflict. She is particularly interested in the application of cognitive research as a means of informing policy with the capacity to effectively prevent and end armed conflict and subsequent displacement. Irene intends to pursue a JD in international law and later work on American foreign policy.
Born and raised in McMinnville, Rachel studies environmental justice and radioactive waste management as a Haslam Scholar. Her experiences as a rural Tennessean instilled her with an appreciation for healthy soils and those who depend on them, leading her to cultivate a passion for equitable waste management, specifically in the post-Soviet and Central Asian space. She has lived in Tajikistan and now studies in Kyrgyzstan, where she will complete a thesis on the gendered impacts of uranium mining. Rachel studies Russian, Tajiki Persian, Kyrgyz, and Spanish. As an environmental scientist intern with the US Department of Energy, she learned the responsibilities of health physicists in mitigating the effects of radiation on people and the planet. Accordingly, Rachel is a staunch activist against nuclear weapons proliferation. In the past year she has led a campaign against her university’s investment in the industry and organized with grassroots organizations and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). She plans to pursue a MS in health physics with a nuclear nonproliferation concentration and prioritize community-engaged partnerships that ensure Indigenous and other marginalized communities benefit from global advances in radioactive waste management. Rachel has also helped shape community compost policies since her freshman year, such as establishing an organization dedicated to making compost infrastructure more accessible. Rachel drives the compost truck for her university, and she enjoys hiking and climbing trees.
Emma is majoring in political science with minors in international studies and managing for social impact. Passionate about politics from a young age, Emma has worked on a wide array of campaigns in both Missouri and Massachusetts. After knocking on over 10,000 doors during the 2018 midterm elections as the youngest field organizer on her campaign team, Emma was shadowed and featured by NPR and The New York Times for her activism. Emma most recently worked as a regional field director, managing a political action committee’s grassroots operations in multiple counties. In addition, Emma has interned for US Senator Josh Hawley, conducting in-depth research on slave labor. Her findings and recommendations for solving the global slave labor crisis have since been utilized in several pieces of government legislation. Currently, Emma works as a research assistant for the Stand for America PAC. On campus, she serves as the president-elect of Boston College’s chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women and is a research assistant for global political violence and US political polarization. Upon graduation, Emma intends to pursue a JD with concentrations in constitutional and government law.
Loyal D Terry
Loyal studies political science and sociology. He serves his community as an advisor for the Grinnell College National Poll, a leader with the Student Government Association, and as an apprentice for the City of Grinnell. He has completed research on “Educational Philanthropy for Poverty Alleviation and Social Change: The Case of Shanti Bhavan,” alongside his mentor, Professor Patrick Inglis. He is examining class and wealth production in the Black community through his second project on "Black Men and Navigating Finance, Racial Solidarity, and Family,” funded by the Mellon Mays Foundation. Loyal currently works for his home district under US Congressman Adam Schiff’s legislative team in Washington. His policy interests are related to socioeconomic mobility not limited to housing and homelessness, jobs, education, and criminal/social justice. He is originally from Burbank but considers Los Angeles County his home. He loves Rams football, food, and family. His goal is to be a change agent, representing his younger sisters and his late father in everything he does.
Cassandra J Thompson
Cassie is a first-generation student majoring in medical biology and cellular and molecular neuroscience. Through years spent volunteering with hospice, supporting individuals living with chronic pain, and her own lived experience, Cassie has seen the effect lack of access to health care has had systemwide. This understanding, along with a passion for serving others, inspires her to engage on multiple fronts, including research to better understand the neurobiology of pain and more efficacious ways to treat it, serving as vice president of a student-led food pantry, supporting underrepresented students as a peer mentor, and engaging in political activism in local and national elections. To support others throughout the pandemic, Cassie co-founded The Siouxland Covid Safety Alliance, a community advocacy group that has distributed tens of thousands of masks and collaborated with multiple community agencies advocating for equitable evidence-based practices. Cassie recognizes the challenges misinformation, disinformation, and mistrust in institutions pose to the nation's health, and is passionate about restoring that trust through empathy, honesty, and good science communication. To that effect, Cassie is dedicated to pursuing dual MD/MPH degrees to work for more equitable systems of care for all.
Rebecca is an African American studies and political science major, who is particularly interested in the intersection of public policy and public health. As a Martin Luther King Scholar, she advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion on her college campus. Rebecca enjoys working with students in order to advance their mental well-being and academic pursuits. Being a Type 1 Diabetic has led her to advocate for health equity, which led her to complete a research project examining insulin affordability in America. She is a passionate leader who is effective in motivating members of her communities in order to bring about positive social change. She intends to pursue a JD/MPH in order to address women’s health in marginalized communities, and in particular, women in carceral institutions. In her free time, you can find her dancing, playing the piano, or cooking.
Sydney J Walker
Born and raised in Watertown, Sydney studies political science and economics. As a Bonner Leader Scholar, she works with Upward Bound, a tutoring and mentorship program for low-income and first-generation high school students on a path toward higher education. Working with marginalized populations, Sydney’s work with Upward Bound students expands her outlook on education and fuels her passion for creating equitable spaces for learning and narrowing opportunity and achievement gaps. Sydney is civically active both on and off campus. She is currently serving as the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University College Democrats President, where she collaborates with the College Republicans to encourage civic engagement and facilitate respectful and productive dialogue among the campus community. In 2020, Sydney served as a Democratic National Convention Delegate for South Dakota, and she is currently working with a local Minnesota Senate campaign. She is planning to pursue a joint JD/MEd to address inequities in educational access and quality.