2023 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 199 students from 133 institutions to interview with the Foundation’s Regional Review Panels between March 1 and April 4. The complete listing of the 2023 Truman Scholarship Finalists can be found in our News section.

In 2023, we selected 62 outstanding college students from 60 institutions as Truman Scholars. Read more about them in our Press Release. Biographies, provided by the Scholars, appear below.

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Malhaar Agrawal

New York
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Malhaar is passionate about public health and urban policy. His immigrant family background and student-community in the Bronx — one of the most diverse zip codes in the country — has led him to become an advocate for racial health disparities in communities of color. He is the founder of the nationally recognized non-profit Health Disparity. Over the past seven years, he has taught youth about early disease screenings and created new health disparities curriculums for local schools. He leads a start-up, ProstateNinja, to connect cancer patients with new clinical trials. Malhaar assisted with public health policy as an intern in the Biden White House and is currently studying academic literature in critical race theory at the University of Oxford. He hopes to pursue an MPH focused on addressing the racial health disparities crisis in America today. Malhaar enjoys cooking at home, particularly international cuisines, and playing rugby. 

Contact: Email Malhaar (agrawalmalhaar@gmail.com)
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Lina Altaan Al Hariri

Rhode Island
University of Rhode Island

Born in Busra Al-Harir, Daraa, the cradle of the Syrian revolution, Lina is a resettled refugee whose experiences drive her to advocate for the fundamental rights of forcibly displaced people. She aims to implement policies and resources that will support them in their new communities. A first-generation college student, Lina is currently studying international studies and diplomacy, Arabic and area studies, and gender and women's studies in the honors program at the University of Rhode Island. As a part of her commitment to advancing human rights, in 2022, Lina worked on the team that launched CIRIGHTS, the world's largest global dataset that measures the extent to which each country respects 72 internationally-recognized human rights. In the spring semester of 2023, Lina participated in the CIEE Middle Eastern studies program in Amman, Jordan, with support from the U.S. Department of State Gilman Scholarship. Lina's passion for human rights and advocacy secured her an internship with the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program, where she will assist the Secretary of State's Office of Global Women's Issues in the summer of 2023. Additionally, Lina has served as vice representative for Charity Week, a Muslim NGO dedicated to supporting orphans in need around the world. 

Contact: Email Lina (laltaanalhariri@uri.edu)
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Andrés Arocho González

Puerto Rico
University of Rochester

Andrés majors in political science and minors in Latin American studies. With a strong passion for public service and a deep interest in policymaking and justice, he has dedicated himself to pursuing a career in politics and law. He plans to pursue an joint MPP/JD in order to serve Puerto Rico, where he hopes to become a policymaker. During the summer of 2022, Andrés interned for New York State Senator Samra Brouk, gaining insight into the workings of government and the importance of effective engagement by working in constituent services and communications. In the wake of Hurricane María’s destruction, he actively contributed to Techos Pa’ Mi Gente (Roofs for the People) to support his community’s recovery and rebuilding. In his free time, Andrés is committed to community service and expressing himself through writing poetry. He also enjoys playing basketball and percussion instruments. 

Contact: Email Andrés (aarocho@u.rochester.edu)
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Bob Atkinson

Yale University

Originally from Janesville, Bob is a first-generation college student studying global affairs. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the United States Air Force (USAF) and entered the Special Warfare training pipeline. Shortly after completing United States Army Ranger School, Bob became the first USAF member to be selected and directly assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Regimental Reconnaissance Company (RRC). While at RRC, he conducted multiple combat deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq, receiving the Bronze Star medal twice. In addition to his military service, Bob interned at the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, focusing his efforts on illicit drug supply reduction. Bob is passionate about affecting U.S. drug policy, improving access to medication-assisted treatment, and eliminating the domestic opioid epidemic. He intends to pursue an MPP/JD with an emphasis on health law and policy. In his spare time, Bob drinks coffee, meanders through the Yale University Art Gallery, and reads anything written by Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

Contact: Email Bob (bob.atkinson@yale.edu)
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Andee Baker

Montana State University - Bozeman

Andee studies agriculture communications, psychology, and agriculture business. Originally from Park City, a small town in south-central Montana, she has always been passionate about increasing access to mental healthcare programs in rural communities. Her undergraduate degrees lay a strong foundation for pursuing an MPH with an emphasis on behavioral, social, and health education sciences. Andee is particularly interested in increasing rural communities' access to behavioral health professionals and services. She is a rising advocate for these rural communities and looks towards impacting policy to help people thrive. She has previously worked with Montana Governor Greg Gianforte's office to create a proclamation to have Farm and Health Safety Week in Montana emphasize mental health. On campus, Andee is an undergraduate lead on a research project to determine the key stressors for farm and ranch workers, the President of Sigma Alpha, a professional agricultural sorority, and a College of Agriculture Ambassador. In her free time, Andee enjoys listening to audiobooks, baking, and caring for her house plants. 

Contact: Email Andee (andeebaker721@gmail.com)
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Malea Bauer

University of Utah

An “army brat” who has lived across the United States and Europe, Malea appreciates the nuances of foreign policy and international relations. She studies economics and international studies, with a focus in foreign relations and security and a minor in Spanish. Malea’s background informs her interest in the role of intergovernmental organizations promoting human rights. Working for the University of Utah’s Bystander Initiative, Malea has drafted legislative proposals, prepared testimonies, and served on task forces for institutional human rights abuses in the Netherlands, Australia, and Canada. She used this experience to consult Utah legislators on House Bill 218 and is currently writing a legislative proposal to criminalize enablers to institutional abuse. Malea can also be found promoting international economic development at World Trade Center Utah. On campus, she has served as an editor of the Hinckley Journal of Politics, president of Women in Economics, and a voting member of her university’s primary committee overseeing campus police. Malea plans to pursue a master’s in international governance and a JD in pursuit of justice for survivors of human rights violations. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, practicing yoga, climbing peaks, and befriending mountain goats. 

Contact: Email Malea (malea.bauer@gmail.com)
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Zachary Billot

University of Nevada - Las Vegas

Zachary majors in political science with minors in Brookings public policy & solar and renewable energy policy. He intends to pursue a PhD in international relations with a concentration on Africa and environmental policy. His interest in international relations influenced his current work, leading and implementing a university-wide climate action plan, the first of its kind for institutions of higher education in Nevada. He currently serves as a researcher for Brookings Mountain West, an extension of Washington’s Brookings Institution, and believes deeply in the power of information as a tool for maximizing the public good. He hopes to use his experiences as a catalyst for a career in research and management of climate-related developmental aid projects for the federal government. In his leisure time, Zachary connects with nature through hikes in the Nevada mountains, plays violin in the UNLV orchestra, and collects tropical houseplants. 

Contact: Email Zachary (billot@unlv.nevada.edu)
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Maisie Brown

Jackson State University

Maisie is an aspiring policy analyst and lawmaker from the heart and soul of Mississippi. She is pursuing a BA in political science with a special research interest in how education and environmental policies affect Southern Black and brown communities. Since her teen years, she has been involved in removing Confederate memorabilia, coordinating clean drinking water to Jackson households, and ensuring incarcerated women have access to feminine hygiene products. As the ACLU of Mississippi‘s advocacy coordinator, she has prioritized engaging young people and created the organization’s first-ever Leaders in Action training program. Maisie has contributed to media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, and Essence, among others, to raise awareness of critical issues, especially the Jackson water crisis. She plans to pursue a PhD in public policy and administration with a concentration in educational policy to ameliorate conditions she faced as a public school student and expand community resources. She is the proud mother of one-year-old D’Mari and enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with family. 

Contact: Email Maisie (maisieb2001@gmail.com)
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Grace Carter

Stanford University

Grace majors in psychology and linguistics. She intends to pursue a JD with a focus on American Indian law and water and land resource rights. Grace is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and she is particularly focused on issues of tribal sovereignty and the destruction of protected lands. This interest led her to intern with the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, where she actively engaged with tribal representatives from across the country. After being presented the Western Regional Hartzog Award for distinctive volunteer service to the U.S. National Park Service, Grace served as a Park Ranger for two years. She has also interned with the Stanford Historical Society, Stanford University Archives, and the Native American Cultural Center. Grace enjoys bike riding, hiking, and ballet, contemporary, and ballroom dance. 

Contact: Email Grace (gjcarter@stanford.edu)
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Gabrielle Chiodo

Saint Louis University

Gabby studies political science and communication. Learning about the domestic violence crisis in America in her classes has drawn her to pursue a career in domestic violence advocacy and policy. She plans to pursue a JD with an emphasis in family and health law. Changing and advocating for policies that address domestic violence in a multifaceted and intersectional way is a particular interest for Gabby. Through her internship with the Polk County Iowa Attorneys office, she learned that current sentencing and prosecuting laws do not often fully support victims or provide true reform for offenders. Outside of academic and professional goals, Gabby enjoys walking dogs at St. Louis animal shelters and hiking. 

Contact: Email Gabrielle (gabby.chiodo@slu.edu)
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Isobel Dernlan

United States Air Force Academy

Isobel studies political science and foreign area studies with a focus on Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia. She is also minoring in both Russian and Spanish. Isobel is motivated by the need to address human security, particularly through gender equality, in order to promote international peace and security. After graduation, she plans to pursue a regionally-focused master’s degree in security studies with a focus on gender and peace before serving as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force. She will apply her graduate education to promoting women, peace, and security efforts at home and abroad through uniformed service. Eventually, Isobel would like to become a Foreign Area Officer, providing decisionmakers with regional expertise and policy advice. After her military career, Isobel plans to transition to the U.S. State Department to continue these efforts. Outside of cadet life, her interests include backpacking, traveling, embroidery, and cuddling with her Great Dane, Io. 

Contact: Email Isobel (c24isobel.dernlan@afacademy.af.edu)
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Madeleine Dotson

University of Mississippi

Originally from the Gulf Coast, Madeleine is passionate about the environment and disaster response. On campus, she serves as a liaison between Mississippi’s flagship university and environmental organizations in North Mississippi, hosting events to raise awareness about local environmental issues and climate change. Her annual Water Day forum convenes students, faculty, alumni, and community members from across the country to discuss contemporary water issues. After high school, she lived in Morocco on a National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship and developed interests in international development and multilateralism. Inspired by her time in Morocco and her home community, she is pursuing degrees in Arabic, economics, and political science. She has traveled across the world, studying and researching how multilateral and multicultural dialogues lead to creative and sustainable development solutions. She currently researches Chinese-Middle East relations for the U.S. Department of State. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a master's in development policy and economics, followed by a PhD in ecological economics. In her free time, Madeleine enjoys traveling, swimming, reading, and walking her dog, Biscuit.  

Contact: Email Madeleine (mrdotso1@go.olemiss.edu)
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Margot Duque

University of Texas - San Antonio

Margot is majoring in public policy, with minors in economics and French. Her experiences as a teacher and student under many different systems of education have compelled her to work to advance education equity in public schools in Texas. She is currently a Teach for America Ignite Fellow, tutoring students in middle school math. Previously, Margot interned with the San Antonio Independent School District Foundation, the San Antonio City Council, and the greater:SATX Regional Economic Partnership. After gaining classroom experience as a teacher, Margot intends to pursue master's degrees in both public policy and applied economics. She is most interested in leveraging school finance policy and school zoning to ensure that all students in Texas have access to a high-quality public education, no matter their socioeconomic background. In her free time, Margot enjoys playing volleyball and traveling with friends.

Contact: Email Margot (margotduquebasis@gmail.com)
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Abby Dziura

Fordham University

Abby is majoring in American studies with a concentration in diversity and difference, and minoring in history and English. Inspired by her experiences in advocacy and research, she intends to pursue master’s degrees in both social work and urban planning with the goal of making public transportation accessible for everyone. She is particularly interested in studying the (in)accessibility of the New York City subway system (which she can often be found riding). On campus, Abby is an active member of Fordham University’s honors program and various student programming organizations. She is currently a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion intern at the esteemed Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, working on expanding access to the arts across New York City. Abby was born and raised in Connecticut as the oldest of four siblings and two dogs. Her upbringing instilled in her the value of community and perseverance. In her free time, you can catch Abby reading, baking, spending time with friends and family, and collecting earrings. 

Contact: Email Abby (abbydziura@gmail.com)
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Yasmine Elkharssa

The University of Michigan

Born and raised in Dearborn Heights, Yasmine is a second-generation Lebanese Muslim woman. She is currently studying public policy at the Ford School, with a focus on understanding the impact of law and government on social inequities. Driven by her lived experiences, Yasmine aspires to pursue a JD in order to defend the rights of low-income communities in housing and civil rights discrimination cases at the federal level. Having interned with U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and at the Washtenaw County Office of the Public Defender, Yasmine is passionate about increasing the representation of Arab and Muslim women within government and the law. On campus, she co-founded Students 4 Students, an organization that focuses on promoting the educational development of Arab and Muslim students in schools with minimal bridge-to-college resources. Additionally, she has served as a peer advisor and participates in a progressive policy organization that guides students in policymaking and advocacy. In her free time, she enjoys reading fiction novels, traveling, and spending quality time with her close friends. 

Contact: Email Yasmine (Yelkhars@umich.edu)
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Maya Elsner

Mount Holyoke College

Maya is a Frances Perkins Scholar, majoring in critical social thought with a concentration in political economy. As a nontraditional student with more than 10 years of professional nonprofit experience, Maya's commitment to housing justice stems from lived experience of homelessness, serving unhoused members of her community, and recognition of the fundamental role unequal access to housing and homeownership plays in socioeconomic and racial inequality. She currently serves as director of development and co-director of finance at Craig's Doors, an emergency shelter, where she is responsible for securing and managing the organization's private, municipal, state, and federal funding contracts, and for developing and implementing ethical data collection systems to improve service delivery and increase permanent housing placements. Maya intends to pursue a dual MPP/JD to effectively challenge the systems that generate housing inequity, lead to homelessness, and exacerbate the racial homeownership gap. As a New Mexican of mixed European, Tiwa, and Jicarilla Apache descent, her long-term goal is to return to her home state to provide concrete solutions to the growing housing affordability crisis, which disproportionately impacts and displaces Indigenous and Latinx New Mexicans. 

Contact: Email Maya (elsne22m@mtholyoke.edu)
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Colin Hall

Georgia College & State University

Colin is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in criminal justice. Being raised in a Christian household shaped his character, personality, and passion to serve. The most influential person in his life is his mother, who has been a public school teacher for 28 years. Her example inspired Colin to improve educational opportunities for children across Georgia. Colin is a strong advocate for universal pre-K to prepare children academically and developmentally for their futures. Colin has tremendous respect for educators and believes they should be compensated for their hard work and dedication to serving the next generation. He spends time speaking and reading to children at the schools that he attended as a child. Additionally, Colin gained experience on several local, state, and national office campaigns. He has served in multiple elected positions within the Jones County Republican Party, including second vice chair, college outreach director, and teen representative. He intends to pursue an MPA/JD at the University of Georgia. He watches sports and spends time with his family, his girlfriend, and their dog, Rocky.

Contact: Email Colin (Colin.hall@bobcats.GCSU.edu)
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Sky Harper

Drexel University

Sky studies chemistry with biology and interdisciplinary problem-solving minors. He is the eldest of six boys and comes from the Navajo Nation. His background in hard sciences and upbringing on the reservation have compelled him to pursue a career conducting research to improve public health to minimize health disparities in low-resource communities. He intends to pursue an MD/PhD with an emphasis in chemistry to better understand the mechanisms that underlie medicine. After graduate school, he wants to spend time with the National Institutes of Health to learn more about community-based participatory research to eventually implement in his own lab. Sky worked for both the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and Eastern Regional Research Center, in addition to gaining experience with on-campus research labs. He is also the founder and president of Drexel Indigenous Students of the Americas and is an avid DEI advocate. Sky wants to thank his mom and dad for always supporting him and encouraging him to take advantage of whatever opportunities come his way. 

Contact: Email Sky (harpers707486@gmail.com)
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Jason Hess

Youngstown State University

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, and raised in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, Jason is a student in the Sokolov Honors College with a major in mechanical engineering and minor in mathematics. He is president-elect of Tau Beta Pi, a teaching assistant for the first-year engineering program, and a research assistant coordinating a program for new engineering students. He organized YSU’s Engineers Week Celebration the past two years, including record-breaking STEM outreach days for the Youngstown City School District, department-wide competitions, an industry day, and a food drive. Off campus, he serves as a volunteer varsity football coach at Wilmington Area High School. In 2022, he participated in a Washington Internships for Students of Engineering program to study science and technology policy with ASTM International. There he developed a passion for researching orbital debris from discarded rockets and satellites, threatening daily space operations. He plans to pursue a multidisciplinary master's program in space systems engineering and public policy to find both technical solutions while considering a public policy to ensure space remains safe for research and exploration for generations to come. He seeks to inspire the next generation of students to look up to the stars and pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

Contact: Email Jason (jhess01@student.ysu.edu)
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Amarachukwu Ifeji

Northeastern University

From Bangor, Amara is a proud Nigerian-American majoring in political science with minors in environmental studies and philosophy. The barriers she faced in accessing environmental experiences fostered her commitment to securing environmental justice and equitable access to the outdoors for all. As the nonprofit Maine Environmental Education Association’s director of policy, Amara leverages grassroots advocacy to effect policy solutions. She served as the lead coordinator for Maine's first statewide Climate Education Summit and led a youth movement resulting in the adoption of a historic $2+ million climate education program. For her contributions to these initiatives, she was named a National Geographic Young Explorer and Brower Youth Awardee. On campus, Amara is a member of Northeastern's Ujima Global Leaders Program and Indigenous Studies Circle. Her forthcoming thesis will examine the natural resource exploitation and environmental injustices faced by tribal groups in Nigeria. She plans to pursue a JD to address inequities in environmental access and quality. 

Contact: Email Amarachukwu (ifeji.a@northeastern.edu)
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Luda Isakharov

University of Oregon

Luda studies political science, global studies, and Russian and Eastern European studies. Her background growing up in an immigrant household in Hillsboro inspires her to use a global lens to inform local and domestic policy. She intends to pursue an MPA with a global comparative focus to work in public policy. Luda worked at the Portland-based nonprofit Boost Oregon, informing community-centered and culturally-informed vaccine education for Russian-speaking immigrant communities across Oregon. She works to uplift underrepresented voices on campus through her role as student body president. Her goal for the future is to focus on public policy that reduces the barriers that immigrant and refugee communities face and to continue finding community-based, culturally-sensitive solutions to problems. In her free time, Luda enjoys dancing and planning events for the Jewish community on campus. 

Contact: Email Luda (ludai@uoregon.edu)
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Samiha Islam

New York
University at Buffalo

Samiha is an antiracist activist and community organizer studying statistics and health & human services. She strives to build empathy across backgrounds and belief systems to forge a more equitable, tolerant world. Her activism began in her hometown of Rochester, where she founded the From Strangers to Neighbors Festival, rallying refugees and allies to challenge xenophobic and Islamophobic discourse. She has since organized conferences for thousands of students on interfaith dialogue, instructed seminars on intersectional and multiracial coalition-building across western New York, and co-authored over $150,000 in grants to support food equity and prison re-entry services as part of her work at the Barakah Muslim Charity. On campus, Samiha is a diversity advocate in Buffalo’s Intercultural and Diversity Center, where she facilitates dialogues on privilege, politics, and social justice. She is currently researching noncarceral approaches to mitigating hate crimes as a Presidential Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. Samiha plans to pursue an MS in data analytics and public policy to holistically address resource inequality in racially segregated cities, ultimately improving social service coordination between nonprofit groups across the northeastern United States. 

Contact: Email Samiha (sislam25@buffalo.edu)
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Adam Johnson

Brigham Young University

Adam is pursuing a degree in political science with a minor in international strategy and diplomacy. He believes that collaboration is the only way the world’s most pressing issues will be solved, and as a result, has created partnerships between the public and private sectors. Adam co-founded two nonprofits that address poverty and climate change. The Small Hill Foundation is an international nonprofit that expands access to education for socioeconomically-disadvantaged youth in Malaysia, where Adam lived for two years. He later mobilized his local community to address concerning development projects in Utah Valley and co-founded Conserve Utah Valley, a nonprofit that has protected $10 million of land and rendered 5,000 hours of service. In addition, Adam has worked with political science and law professors to research effective policy and environmental law, leading to his publication of an honors thesis on successful environmental messaging. Adam has worked as a congressional campaign manager, led voter mobilization initiatives, and organized homeless mitigation projects. He served as president of the BYU Honors Program and is currently a Wheatley Scholar. Adam plans to pursue a master’s degree in environmental governance at the University of Oxford.

Contact: Email Adam (aroyaljohnson@gmail.com)
Travis Johnson

Travis Johnson

South Carolina
Harvard University

Travis studies political science, government, and African American history. He currently serves as the student body co-president and has centered his term around inclusivity and accessibility by creating a free professional clothing closet to remove financial barriers to employment opportunities, in addition to providing book subsidies to reduce academic exclusivity for students who cannot afford required textbooks. A native of Sumter, Travis developed a passion for criminal justice reform and an interest in transforming America’s legal system after witnessing members of his community and family funnel through the school-to-prison pipeline. As a result, Travis is interested in dismantling injustice in the law by tackling unfair sentencing practices, increasing representation for underprivileged and indigent defendants, and advocating for policies that end mandatory minimum sentences. Travis intends to pursue a JD with a focus on criminal law and procedure. As an aspiring lawyer and public servant, he hopes to ensure that all Americans, not just a select few, are included in America’s promise of equal justice under the law. Outside the classroom, he enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, watching movies, and touring state capitol buildings.

Contact: Email Travis (travisjohnson@college.harvard.edu)
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Ayesha Khan

New York
CUNY City College

Ayesha studies medical sciences and public policy. As a BS/MD student and community organizer, she wants to address health needs and provide primary care for underserved communities, especially global communities adversely affected by the climate crisis. She is deeply interested in how people are physiologically impacted by their physical environment and how programs can be developed to prepare and care for regions facing environmental devastation. Ayesha has participated in field work for several local progressive campaigns and worked on community health canvassing efforts around New York City. She helped start a medical clinic in her family’s rural village in India, increasing access to primary health care for local farmers. Ayesha also worked on a manuscript to help preserve knowledge on how Micronesian communities use plants for healing and daily activities. Along with medical school, Ayesha plans to pursue an MSc in international health and tropical medicine to learn how to better address health challenges in resource-limited communities, especially those facing the brunt of climate catastrophes. Aside from this, Ayesha is a huge concertgoer, a painter of middling talent, and a gardener who could talk about her plants for hours! 

Contact: Email Ayesha (akhan042@citymail.cuny.edu)
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Azeem Khan

West Virginia
West Virginia University

Azeem studies political science and business cybersecurity. Beginning at a young age, Azeem’s family instilled in him an appreciation for serving others and doing his part to make the world a better place. Azeem is passionate about working to address the mental health and addiction crises across America today. He currently serves as president pro tempore of the WVU Student Government, co-chair of the Mountaineer Fentanyl Education Task Force, and as an intern with the WVU Government Relations Office. Azeem has also served as a legislative intern for U.S. Senator Joe Manchin III and as an intern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of West Virginia. He serves on the Juvenile Justice Subcommittee of the Governor’s Committee on Crime, Delinquency, and Correction. Azeem plans to pursue a JD and spend his career giving back to the community, state, and country that have given so much to him. In his free time, Azeem enjoys reading, hanging out with his friends, and playing tennis. 

Contact: Email Azeem (auk00001@mix.wvu.edu)
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Catherine Kish

Middlebury College

A double major in political science and Mandarin Chinese, Catherine grew up in a bilingual household in Taiwan, Japan, and India. Her upbringing inspired her passion for both DEI advocacy and studying international conflicts, especially the impact of violent extremism and terrorism on regime, regional, and global stability. Catherine founded the Intercultural Film Initiative to teach intercultural competency and mitigate radicalization risks through film, storytelling, and conversation, an effort awarded honorable mention by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the McCain Institute. She also organized an annual International Women’s Day workshop, served on a student government DEI committee, and produced a podcast on gender equity movements. Catherine worked at the U.S. Embassies in New Delhi and Abu Dhabi and currently serves as a research assistant for the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism, where she conducts open-source intelligence research on violent extremist groups. She intends to pursue an MA in international relations and tackle extremism and terrorism to create a safer world. Catherine is also a member of Middlebury’s women’s water polo team and is a composer and soprano vocalist, performing on campus and at local nursing homes. 

Contact: Email Catherine (ckish@middlebury.edu)
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Nidhi Krishnan

Washington University in St. Louis

An Army ROTC cadet from Bloomington, Nidhi studies American culture studies and math as a John B. Ervin and Newman Civic Fellow. She seeks to use her knowledge of and proximity to the United States military to advocate on behalf of civilians abroad. In that spirit, she plans to pursue an MA in international relations to support her crafting international policy and military strategy that will protect the lives and quality of life of civilians abroad, especially during and after war. On campus, Nidhi learns Arabic, serves as a peer counselor, and leads the Alexander Hamilton Society, and organization focused on international relations. Previously, Nidhi interned at the U.S. Agency for International Development. She is also passionate about domestic issues, specifically racial justice. Nidhi has interned at the ACLU of Missouri, WEPOWER STL, and the St. Louis Regional Chamber, where she advocated for racial equity. In her free time, she enjoys watching sunrises, stargazing, and running.

Contact: Email Nidhi (nidhi@wustl.edu)
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Niko Malhotra

Williams College

From Falmouth, Niko is a political science major concentrating in American politics. He is the president of the Society for Conservative Thought, captain of the moot court team, and opinions columnist for the Williams Record. Niko uses his leadership positions to be a persistent advocate for free speech and academic freedom on campus. As a legislative intern for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Niko developed a passion for public policy and creating real solutions for the challenges facing the American people. Inspired by his great-grandfather’s military service during World War II, Niko intends to pursue an MPP/JD with aspirations of becoming a Judge Advocate General officer in the U.S. Army and subsequently serving as legislative counsel in the U.S. Senate. He hopes to focus on developing legislative policies to encourage family formation, ensure the economic security of working families, and protect parental autonomy of their children’s education. Niko previously worked as a strategic research intern at the Pacific Legal Foundation, a field organizer on U.S. Senator Susan Collins’ 2020 reelection campaign, and as a public policy intern at the Maine Policy Institute. 

Contact: Email Niko (npm1@williams.edu)
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Dewayne Martin

Hamilton College

Dewayne was born and raised in Miami Gardens, the largest predominantly Black municipality in Florida. Overcoming glaucoma and a speech impediment, Dewayne went on to participate competitively and teach policy debate. He translated these skills into his community by founding the Youth Education Coalition, an organization in Miami-Dade which increases young people’s capacity to engage directly in local education politics. Dewayne is a Posse Scholar pursuing a BA in public policy. He is a Hamilton Student Assembly class representative and staff writer for The Hamilton Spectator, where he writes on the intersections of community organizing, technology, and a carbon-neutral future. He worked as the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party’s first education policy intern, where he built partnerships between the local party, students, United Teachers of Dade, and several community-based organizations. Following his digital organizing of pro-choice men with Men4Choice, Dewayne led over 30 campuses in the national Reproductive Freedom Protest after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Currently abroad at Oxford, Dewayne enjoys curating playlists, fitness, and bringing people together through cooking and conversations. He intends to pursue a JD/EdM at Harvard University followed by a career as a leader in Florida education policy. 

Contact: Email Dewayne (dewaynectg@gmail.com)
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Anna Mathis

University of Arkansas

Anna is pursuing a double major in agricultural communications and agricultural leadership with a minor in global studies. Her passion for rural development and community engagement was developed while growing up in an extremely small, rural town in Arkansas. Anna served as the 2020-21 National FFA Secretary, engaging with agriculture stakeholders, over 760,000 FFA members, and more than one million students enrolled in agriculture education classes. She led broadband connectivity discussions with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, White House advisors, and other advocacy groups. She is also an inaugural board member for Her Mighty Hands, a nonprofit empowering women smallholder farmers in Uganda through technology and training. Anna is interested in policies that increase food security and rural prosperity, particularly in the southern United States. 

Contact: Email Anna (annabmathis@gmail.com)
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Sandrien Mekany

San Diego State University

Sandy is a first-generation Chaldean American studying political science and sociology. As a daughter of Iraqi refugees, her political passions are informed by her struggles growing up as a Middle Eastern girl in her early public schooling education. Having understood the impact of equitable resources through her experience of tutoring refugee students from Afghanistan, Sandy is dedicated to ensuring that the diverse needs of minority communities in the educational system are met with empathy and fairness. In 2021, Sandy represented her university in the Panetta Congressional Internship where she interned in Washington for U.S. Congresswoman Katie Porter. As a 2022 UC Berkeley PPIA Fellow, Sandy has researched the rise of hate crimes against minorities post-9/11 and developed a policy memo on the need to expand access to girls’ education in Afghanistan. On her campus, she serves as the Vice President of University Affairs for Associated Students and sits on the Middle Eastern and North African Taskforce. After graduation, Sandy hopes to continue advancing educational law and policy by pursuing a joint JD/EdM. Sandy enjoys singing, traveling, and getting to know others at heart.

Contact: Email Sandrien (smekany7748@sdsu.edu)
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Sarah Mickelson

University of Texas at El Paso

Born and raised in Soldotna, Sarah is an aspiring public defender who aims to provide strong legal representation for members of her home community. Sarah is currently earning her BA in political science while serving as the Attorney General for the Student Government Association and the Executive Assistant for IGNITE at UTEP, an organization which aims to promote and facilitate women's involvement in law and politics. Her advocacy is shaped by her time spent interning at the El Paso County Public Defender’s Office, as well as her membership in the UTEP Law School Preparation Institute and the UTEP Liberal Arts Honors Program. These experiences also inspired Sarah to spend a winter semester abroad in London and study at the University of Roehampton. Following graduation, she plans on attending law school. Sarah is ultimately motivated to help lower rates of recidivism, advocate for the growth and rehabilitation of those convicted through educational programs, and to help ensure equal treatment and strong legal representation for every defendant in the criminal justice system. In her free time, Sarah enjoys reading, listening to music, baking, and watching baseball. 

Contact: Email Sarah (snmickelson@miners.utep.edu)
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Rafael Montero

Puerto Rico
Haverford College

Born in Mayagüez, Rafael is majoring in anthropology with a minor in health studies. He also serves as co-chair of Haverford’s Honor Council. He is passionate about the potential for public policy to address structural and systemic issues in society while valuing marginalized people’s voices. He is also interested in finding ways to make government positions more accessible to those underrepresented in the highest positions of government. In 2022, he interned in the Senate of Puerto Rico for Senator María de Lourdes Santiago, where he wrote a policy measure focusing on the lack of affordable, accessible housing in Puerto Rico vis-à-vis gentrification driven by foreign investors. The feeling of writing a measure to contribute something positive to Puerto Rico was something special for Rafael; he wanted to do it again. Rafael plans to pursue a JD and return to Puerto Rico to make a difference in the political system. He's looking forward to it. 

Contact: Email Rafael (rmontero@haverford.edu)
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Aaliyah Moore

Bates College

Aaliyah studies politics and Africana at Bates College. Her passion for understanding the criminal and civil implications of mass incarceration and reintegration has driven her to focus on identifying and challenging systemic injustice within our legal system. Her experience compels her to address injustices disproportionately affecting disadvantaged and marginalized people. Aaliyah intends to pursue a JD/PhD in African American studies with an emphasis on criminal law and civil rights. She is particularly keen to advance programs that help citizens successfully reenter society following incarceration and fighting for the release of wrongly incarcerated persons. Aaliyah previously interned with College Guild, a nonprofit organization that provides free education to incarcerated people, and has collaborated with the Maine Prisoner Reentry Network to lead a Squashing Stigma workshop titled "Unspoken Truths About Incarcerated Women" to debunk myths and stereotypes about incarcerated women in Maine. She has also led a collaboration between BIPOC college students and a nonprofit that serves marginalized youth in Maine to encourage greater involvement in public service. On campus, she enjoys leading the Black Student Union and building an inclusive community as a residence coordinator. 

Contact: Email Aaliyah (Amoore3@bates.edu)
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Tay Moore

Louisiana State University

Tay studies political science and music. Born and raised in Ringgold, a small town in northwest Louisiana, he is passionate about addressing issues in his state with a specific interest in rural community development. An LSU Ogden Honors College student, Ron Brown Scholar, and Louisiana Service and Leadership Scholar, he is co-president of LSU Collegiate 4-H and a project manager for Project225. In 2021, he was elected to the National 4-H Council Board of Trustees. As a John Robert Lewis Scholar through the Faith & Politics Institute, Tay explores revolutionary nonviolent principles expressed in the civil rights movement and through African American music. He has previously worked for the Louisiana State Senate and Ringgold Mayor’s Office and is currently interning with USDA Louisiana Rural Development. He intends to pursue an MPP/MDiv to prepare for a career developing equitable public policies that uplift rural communities. Tay enjoys spending time with his family, volunteering alongside his friends, playing piano, and getting into “good trouble.” 

Contact: Email Tay (amoo127@lsu.edu)
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Rina Nagashima

Scripps College

Rina is majoring in public policy and mathematics. Born in Japan and raised in Hawai’i, her upbringing as a first-generation immigrant in a multicultural environment drove her to public service. Her main policy research interest is the distributional impact of local and state policy. After earning an MPP with a concentration in data analytics, she plans to pursue a career in policy research that uplifts disadvantaged communities while playing to her quantitative strengths in mathematics, statistics, and economics. Her interests in education policy began in 2018 upon presenting a research project on the link between the achievement gap and early childhood education to Yale Law School. Inspired by her own struggles and privileges in accessing higher education, she co-founded a nonprofit called College ARCH in 2020. Since then, she has interned at the Public Policy Institute of California's Higher Education Center, where she studied the impact of COVID-19 federal stimulus on higher education finance. Currently, she generates economic forecasts as an analyst at the Lowe Institute of Political Economy, is a research assistant for a professor investigating the distributional impacts of emergency medical services’ districting on police response times,  and serves in her student government. 

Contact: Email Rina (rnagashi9420@scrippscollege.edu)
Nicodemus Klemmer

Klemmer Nicodemus

University of Louisville

Originally from rural western Kentucky, the home of bluegrass music, Klemmer is a chemical engineering student with a minor in chemistry. As an advocate for empirical science in government, Klemmer hopes to bridge the gap between technological advancements and social policy, thereby enabling scientific discoveries to directly serve public needs. His research seeks to mitigate the present and future effects of climate change with an expertise in separations chemistry and emphasis on environmental remediation and nuclear fuel recycling. Through work as an undergraduate researcher at his university, as well as with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where he worked on the recovery of critical materials from domestic secondary sources, Klemmer has been preparing for a lifelong journey of public service as a scientist. Upon graduation, he plans to pursue doctoral studies in chemical engineering, continue his career as a researcher with the DOE, and eventually make a transition into policy work as a subject matter expert in his field. 

Contact: Email Klemmer (klemmer.nicodemus@gmail.com)
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Anchee Nitschke Durben

North Dakota
St. Catherine University

Anchee grew up in North Dakota after being adopted from China at 11 months old. Her experiences growing up as a transracial adoptee and working at her local grocery store during the pandemic inspired her desire to address health disparities and utilize culture as a form of healing. Anchee is majoring in public health and data science with a minor in longevity and aging. She is currently working on an interdisciplinary team to research the impact historical racism and racial covenants have on health today. Anchee has also interned at a federally qualified health center working to educate patients on their reproductive options and collaborated with faculty to identify violations of fair housing policies. In 2022, Anchee interned at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, developing lesson plans to teach students about public health and social justice. Her work also included developing a grant program to provide college students with opportunities to address environmental racism in their own communities. In the future, she plans to pursue her MPH in health behavior and health education with the desire to work directly with communities to achieve health equity. In her free time, Anchee enjoys hiking, trying new foods, and exploring new cities.

Contact: Email Anchee (anitschkedurben143@stkate.edu)
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Shreeya Parekh

University of Delaware

A child of Indian immigrants, Shreeya studies computer science and political science with a specialization in cybersecurity. As a McNair Scholar, she researched how spyware threatens human security and human rights. On campus, Shreeya is also the the computer science department’s diversity and inclusion representative and a co-founder of Students Thriving in Excellence and Purpose Delaware (STEP UP DE). She uses her platform to elevate underrepresented communities within the university and local area through mentorship. Combining her interest in digital technology and social justice, she intends to pursue a PhD to study technology policy with the goal of addressing the need for equitable algorithms and privacy practices. She envisions a system of policies, norms, and safeguards to allow for the protection of vulnerable communities and equitable innovation to coincide in cyberspace. In her free time, Shreeya enjoys embroidering her clothes and watching movies. 

Contact: Email Shreeya (shreeya@udel.edu)
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Joleece Pecore

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Joleece is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and a descendent of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, Oneida, and Menominee Nations. She is double majoring in American Indian studies and art and intends to pursue a JD with a concentration on Indian Law. She is interested in using history and Indian law to be an advocate and educator, and to better inform her artwork. Her focuses within law include Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives, tribal sovereignty, and treaties. As a scholar and artist, she devotes her work toward authentic Native American representation and advocacy. Currently, she is heavily involved with the Native community on campus through an internship with the Circle of Indigenous Nations, as a co-president of the American Indian Student Cultural Center, and as captain of an all-Native intramural basketball team. She is also working on preservation and revitalization of her culture through language, ceremony, dance, and community gatherings.

Contact: Email Joleece (pecor022@umn.edu)
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Irena Petryk

Northwestern University

Irena majors in economics and international studies with a concentration in political economy. She is passionate about promoting economic development and mitigating the economic impact of conflict. She plans to pursue an MPhil in International Relations and a JD with the goal of one day joining the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State. Irena works as a research assistant at the Global Poverty Research Lab and has previously interned at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of State, and the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House. She co-founded Northwestern for Ukraine, which fundraises for humanitarian organizations working on the front lines of the war in Ukraine, and leads the associate board of Expanding Lives, a nonprofit organization that promotes women’s education in West Africa. She is an Obama-Chesky Scholar and a Rhodes Scholar. In her free time, she enjoys baking, biking, and listening to “This American Life.” 

Contact: Email Irena (irena.petryk1@gmail.com)
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Hattie Polson

Kansas State University

Hattie studies agricultural economics, global food systems leadership, and nonprofit leadership. Growing up on a grain farm in Northeast Kansas, Hattie feels a connection to agriculture and the challenges facing farmers of all walks of life. She intends to pursue a MS in international agricultural development. Hattie is particularly interested in rural poverty of developing nations, especially where the most food-insecure people are responsible for feeding their communities. She previously served as Kansas FFA Association state reporter and student coordinator for K-State's Food Security Scholars and Global Food Systems Leadership secondary major. Hattie enjoys attending K-State sporting events and using food as a way to bring people together. 

Contact: Email Hattie (polsonh@ksu.edu)
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Christian Gyles Ramos

University of Guam

Born and raised on Guam, Christian is a first-generation student, majoring in business administration. He intends to pursue an MPA to further his public service, taking action not just on the island but all over the world. On campus, Christian is currently serving his third term as the vice president of the Student Government Association, his platform to lead with passion, serve with a purpose, and excel with a vision. He is also one of his university’s representatives in the 34th Guam Youth Congress, serving as chair of the Committee on Rules and vice-chair of the Committee on Education and Youth Affairs. He plans to legislate policies that would address the growing homelessness, affordable housing and health care, and LGBTQ+ rights. Christian is also the founder and president of Triton Changemakers, an organization that supports projects to beneficial to University of Guam students and the wider island community. 

Contact: Email Christian (ramosc13438@gotritons.uog.edu)
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Emily Robertson

Longwood University

A Cormier Honors College scholar, Emily majors in communication studies with a concentration in public relations and minor in women, gender, and sexuality studies. She serves as the communications intern for Clean Virginia Waterways, a nonprofit that works to reduce plastic pollution throughout the commonwealth. In fall 2022, she helped organize more than 100 litter cleanups for the International Coastal Cleanup, a global event sponsored by the Ocean Conservatory to reduce and clean up illegally disposed waste as well as collect data in polluted areas. Emily’s passion for public service empowered her to serve as the president of the College Democrats of Longwood University for two terms and an organizer for several grassroots political campaigns in Southside Virginia. Now the president of the Honors Student Association, she continues to volunteer at community food banks and state parks. Emily intends to pursue an MPP at the University of Virginia upon successful completion of her undergraduate studies and ultimately pursue political office to improve the lives of fellow Virginians. In her free time, she loves to paint, read, and hike. 

Contact: Email Emily (emily.robertson1@live.longwood.edu)
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Andrew Schumann

New Mexico
University of New Mexico

Born and raised in Albuquerque, Andrew studies American history and political science. He earned six associate degrees from Central New Mexico Community College before graduating from College and Career High School. He is currently the sole member of UNM’s BA/MA Shared Credit Program in History. Andrew’s experience being socioeconomically disadvantaged inspired him to advocate for economic justice and workers’ rights. He has conducted original research into the Chicanx labor movement through the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and the Michigan Humanities Emerging Research Scholars Program. Andrew has also worked at various levels of government, interning for Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, New Mexico State Senator Katy Duhigg, and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez. He spearheaded political engagement on campus by rebuilding UNM College Democrats and starting a governmental shadowing program that enables students to participate directly in the legislative process. Andrew intends to pursue a joint JD/PhD in American history to better understand the development of U.S. social policy and criminal justice, while also gaining the legal training to implement policy solutions for contemporary social and economic inequality. In his free time, Andrew enjoys collecting comic books and listening to the Beatles. 

Contact: Email Andrew (aschumann2@unm.edu)
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Cheyon Sheen

Boise State University

Cheyon is earning a BS in civil engineering and a minor in environmental studies. Raised in Idaho, she has devoted her academic career to working at the intersections of infrastructure, environment, and policy, with the goal of building sustainable, resilient solutions for rural, underserved communities. Her past experiences include researching salmon habitat restoration with Tribal Nations, developing a sustainability action plan, and serving as the student government relations officer for Boise State. Passionate about voter accessibility, Cheyon led her university’s first hybrid student voter registration drive in 2020 and continues to create pathways for students to participate in democracy. She intends to pursue a joint MPP/MS in management science & engineering. In her free time, she enjoys camping, reading poetry, and making jewelry for her friends. 

Contact: Email Cheyon (cheyonsheen@u.boisestate.edu)
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Michael Solomon

University of Southern California

Originally from Silver Spring, Michael majors in history and international relations as a Trustee Scholar. Co-founder of Montgomery County Students for Change, one of the District of Columbia metropolitan area's largest youth advocacy organizations, Michael has dedicated years to grassroots organizing around the issues of gun violence prevention, education equity, and civic engagement. He has interned at multiple levels of government, including with the Montgomery County Council, the Los Angeles Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental and Legislative Affairs, and the U.S. House of Representatives. He also worked as a policy intern for Cornerstone Government Affairs and the National Education Association. On campus, Michael works as a pro bono consultant for Los Angeles Community Impact and serves as co-president of USC's chapter of BlackGen Capital. Michael currently serves as a research assistant for a postdoctoral project at Yale University, where he studies the impact of colonial institutions on contemporary African secession movements. A child of immigrants from Ethiopia, he intends to pursue an MA/JD to combine his interests in history and the law in preparation for a career in legal advocacy. 

Contact: Email Michael (mtsolomo@usc.edu)
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Caleb Swanson

South Dakota
University of South Dakota

Originally from Mitchell, Caleb is a first-generation college student majoring in sustainability and political science with a minor in biology. Growing up in South Dakota, he saw the impacts that environmental degradation and climate change have on small, rural communities and their struggle to address these challenges. This has guided his aspirations to become an environmental attorney who will enforce and advocate for environmental policy addressing environmental degradation and injustice harming rural, low-income communities. His current efforts to make his communities more sustainable places include advocating for sustainability and social justice initiatives as his university’s Student Government Association president and serving as an executive board member for Greening Vermillion. He is also the president of USD’s environmental club. He spent a summer interning for Mitchell’s city manager, researching Lake Mitchell’s water quality issues resulting from unsustainable development and agricultural pollution. Caleb was awarded USD’s Undergraduate Research Excellence Award and  presented his work at an international research conference. He enjoys hiking, biking, and swimming competitively as a student-athlete for his university’s Division I men’s swim team. 

Contact: Email Caleb (caleb.swanson@coyotes.usd.edu)
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Cameron Tiefenthaler

Miami University

Cameron studies business analytics and political science at Miami University. Her interest in voting rights and civic engagement compels her to continually advocate for fair and accessible elections through her roles on campus and beyond. She plans to pursue a JD with the hopes of practicing election or civil rights law. She also has a keen interest in increasing representation in elected officials, beginning with young women. Cameron has interned with the U.S. Embassy in Luxembourg, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, IGNITE National and Princeton's Bridging Divides Initiative. In her free time, Cameron loves baking, quilting, and traveling. 

Contact: Email Cameron (tiefencj@miamioh.edu)
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Jalen Travis

Princeton University

From Minneapolis, Jalen is majoring in anthropology and minoring in African American studies. Using the levers of legal representation, he is dedicated to addressing the inequities that plague communities. On campus, Jalen co-directs Princeton’s Minority Pre-Law Association, where he works to provide resources and opportunities to undergraduates whose identities are historically underrepresented in the legal profession. Committed to campus and community service, he has co-chaired the university’s Advocacy Activism Student Organizations and served on the advisory board for Princeton’s Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship, where he works with university administrators and community members to improve the model for integrated service. Jalen seeks to earn a JD to support legal representation for those most marginalized by the justice system. As a varsity football player (offensive lineman), Jalen enjoys spending his off days hanging out with friends, playing basketball, and eating ice cream. 

Contact: Email Jalen (jwtravis@princeton.edu)
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Martayn Van de Wall

North Carolina
United States Military Academy

Martayn is a first-generation American born and raised outside of Baltimore, Maryland. After spending a year in ROTC at Vanderbilt University, Martayn recognized his love for military leadership and transferred to West Point. Martayn studies international relations with a focus on strategic collaboration and coherence within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. At West Point, he regularly competes in the Sandhurst military skills competition and serves as a leader of two training programs for combat skills. He is a graduate of the Army’s Sapper Leader and Air Assault courses, a West Point Writing Fellow, and a Stamps Scholar. He hopes to improve the Army’s talent management policies by encouraging specialization and extending terms of service in Army units. His long-term goal, however, is to strengthen NATO partnerships as a member of NATO’s policy planning division. 

Contact: Email Martayn (martayn.vandewall@westpoint.edu)
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Maddison Van Der Mark

New Jersey
Rutgers University

Maddison studies history, military science, and women’s leadership at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. An Army veteran and member of Army ROTC, she hopes to commission as an Adjutant General Officer upon graduation. Maddison founded the “Veterans Tutoring Veterans” writing program at Rutgers to assist military-affiliated students. Interning at the nonprofit New Jersey Give a Kid a Dream ignited her passion for mentoring and coaching at-risk youth through the sport of Olympic-style boxing. Through her time as a boxing coach and mentor, she has brought awareness to the challenges of at-risk youth in the education system. She uses education as a tool to bridge gaps between communities and intends to pursue New York University’s MAT in Transformational Teaching in Middle and High School with a concentration in social studies. Maddison will continue her public service as a teacher; using her life experiences and knowledge of adverse childhood experiences, she plans to influence discipline reform by removing out-of-school suspensions for nonviolent offenses and replacing them with restorative justice programs. Maddison is passionate about teaching students that the experiences they had as a child need not define their futures.

Contact: Email Maddison (mbv34@rutgers.edu)
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Pieter van Wingerden

Claremont McKenna College

Pieter studies government and Asian studies and is interested in political, economic, and military issues in the Indo-Pacific region. As an American who grew up abroad, he has experienced firsthand the important role our nation’s foreign policy plays in protecting and promoting international peace and security. His time in Hong Kong during the 2014 and 2019 pro-democracy protests sparked his desire to enter public service. He carried his overseas experiences to campus, where he runs the Claremont chapter’s Alexander Hamilton Society, leading seminars on China’s grand strategy and cross-strait relations. He received grants from the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies to research national security apparatuses in East Asia and U.S. arms sales policies toward Taiwan, as well as interning with the Project 2049 Institute and the U.S. Department of Defense. He is also a left-handed pitcher for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps baseball team and a research assistant at the Rose Institute for State and Local Government. 

Contact: Email Pieter (pvanwingerden24@cmc.edu)
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Kaitlyn Vana

Baylor University

Kaitlyn is double majoring in mathematics and Slavic and East European studies with a minor in Russian. A member of Air Force ROTC, she hopes to commission as a pilot and use her language skills in Russian, Ukrainian, and Azerbaijani, to better promote international cooperation. Her regional studies, alongside the Air Force’s aerospace studies courses, provide a unique opportunity to consider women’s roles in U.S. military culture. Kaitlyn intends to use her experiences to advocate for women’s issues within the Armed Forces, bringing attention to the lack of direction or urgency in addressing the military’s female recruitment and retention crisis. She intends to pursue an MA in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies and an MA in global policy studies with emphasis on security, law and diplomacy, then spending her time as a Eurasian Air Force Foreign Area Officer to help shape foreign policy. Currently, Kaitlyn is working on an undergraduate thesis regarding the portrayal of women in Georgian Soviet film. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing soccer with her sisters.

Contact: Email Kaitlyn (kaitlyn_vana1@baylor.edu)
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Iona Volynets

District of Columbia
Syracuse University

Iona studies history, international relations, and museum studies. They aim to combine their passion for arts, heritage, history, and culture with their desire to help others through a career in public service. Iona aims to work in cultural heritage preservation, ensuring that tangible and intangible heritage threatened by conflict, climate change, and other challenges, is not only preserved, but taught, understood, and celebrated. Being half-Ukrainian, Iona hopes to focus on preserving and rebuilding Ukrainian heritage both during and in the wake of war. To pursue this dream, they intend to earn either an MPA or a master’s in cultural heritage studies. Iona was on the Teen Council for the National Galleries of Asian Arts, is an intern for the Syracuse Shaw Center for Public and Community Service, and led a project to create a culturally-sensitive fresh produce pantry in Syracuse’s Northside neighborhood. They will spend summer 2023 conducting research into museums in former Soviet nations and working with the Syracuse Art Museum to curate an environmentalist finding guide and collection. In Iona’s spare time, they enjoy crocheting, sewing, painting, visiting museums, and reading.

Contact: Email Iona (ikvolyne@syr.edu)
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Corbin Walls

The University of Oklahoma

Raised by lifelong public servants of his hometown, Corbin is committed to having a broad, meaningful impact on society. Corbin believes that the nonprofit sector is a necessary answer to the problems that majoritarian politics limit the government from addressing. Accordingly, Corbin is dedicated to the development, specialization, and professionalization of the nonprofit sector. At his university, Corbin founded the Grant Writers Association of Oklahoma, an organization that trains students to write grants for nonprofits and emphasizes the DEI’s role in grant writing. Their nonprofit clients – with missions ranging from providing mental health counseling for child victims of sexual assault and shelter for the unhoused, to advocating for Queer rights and the accessibility of higher education for minority communities – receive pro bono grant writing services. To support the nonprofit sector in meeting its unique potential, Corbin will pursue a PhD in public administration, gaining research skills and expertise in nonprofit management that he will leverage toward a more just, equitable society. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Corbin recognizes the tragedies of marginalization and oppression. He also serves on the board of directors for Second Chance Animal Rescue in Norman. 

Contact: Email Corbin (Corbinwalls@ou.edu)
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Caleb Weiland

South Dakota
University of South Dakota

A political science major, Caleb believes in the promise of the American Dream, especially for those in rural America. He was born and raised in rural South Dakota and learned the definition of South Dakota hard work on his family farm from a young age. He has committed himself to advocating for quality rural education accessibility, rural economic opportunities and leveling the playing field for small agricultural operations. On campus, he serves as the student body president and as president of the South Dakota Student Federation. His previous experience as an intern in the South Dakota State Legislature and for U.S. Senator Mike Rounds developed a passion for the legislative process. A main focus of his is to get individuals elected to public office who focus on effective governance and building up our institutions not tearing them down. As a registered lobbyist for the South Dakota Student Federation, he worked with those same individuals he helped get elected to support a statewide investment in  preventative youth mental services. Following in the footsteps of 1998 Truman Scholar U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson, Caleb plans on continuing to be an effective advocate focused on solving South Dakota’s problems. 

Contact: Email Caleb (caleb.weiland@coyotes.usd.edu)
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Jonathan Weinberg

New Hampshire
University of New Hampshire

Jonathan currently serves on the Concord School Board, where he chairs the City and Community Relations Committee. Throughout his time on the board, he has worked to increase school board member presence and engagement in the community, testified to the state legislature on behalf of the board, and promoted youth civic engagement as its youngest member. Jonathan is also completing his undergraduate degree in nonprofit leadership and public service, and intends to pursue an MPP focusing on education funding disparities. In 2021, he was nominated and selected as the 2021 Civic Leader of the Year, an annual award distributed by Stay Work Play NH and New Hampshire Public Radio. Outside of political advocacy, Jonathan prides himself on wearing mismatched socks and is an avid soccer fan, frequently seen playing at Keach Park during the summer or watching the English Premier League at home. 

Contact: Email Jonathan (jm.weinberg21@gmail.com)
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Aubrey Wieberg

North Carolina
University of Dallas

A politics major concentrating in international studies and German, Aubrey has a deep interest in humanitarian affairs, particularly refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers. This led her to create the Dallas Refugee Project (DRP) nonprofit assisting refugees in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. DRP has led school-supply drives, organized diaper donations, created a system of rent assistance, and designed a tutoring program for refugee children. Partnering with the International Rescue Committee, Aubrey engages girls through weekly activity groups focused on educational attainment and community building. On campus, Aubrey serves as the founder and executive director of the Committee Board for the Big Event: Serving Irving, an initiative she brought to her university in 2021 to increase levels of volunteerism and community involvement among her peers. The event has grown in the past two years, with one quarter of the undergraduate student body volunteering in the 2022 Big Event. Aubrey intends to pursue a master’s degree in foreign service or international relations, and hopes to work in refugee resettlement policy and advocate for a multilateral system of resettlement, as international cooperation and coordination are vital to helping refugees in a stable, supportive, and humane manner.  

Contact: Email Aubrey (awieberg@udallas.edu)
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Ambria Williams

New York University

Ambria studies public policy with a primary focus area in health law and bioethics. Her work focuses on evaluating the ethical and legal implications of biomedical technology. She has conducted policy research on vaccines, genetic editing and testing, drug costs, and cancer. An Obama-Chesky Scholar and NYU Presidential Honors Scholar, Ambria works to promote public confidence and knowledge about health care through community engagement in policy. An enthusiast of superheroes, she is harnessing the power of science fiction and storytelling to engage high school and college students in a range of public health and science policy problems. Ambria is involved with the pre-law and policy community at NYU. She plans to attend law school to become a health lawyer. 

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Carter Yost

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Born and raised in Lincoln, Carter is a progressive organizer, political communications professional, and fierce enthusiast of cinnamon baked goods. After taking a gap year to work as one of the youngest full-time staff on Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, Carter enrolled at the University of Minnesota, where he is triple majoring in political science, communications, and history. Through on-campus advocacy, he led the successful campaign to increase the minimum wage for student workers and organized the most effective voter mobilization program in university history. Carter previously served as State President for the College Democrats of Minnesota and is currently the Government & Legislative Affairs Director for the Association of Big Ten Students, as well as for UMN’s Undergraduate Student Government. Carter has been a trusted communications and policy advisor for mayors, council members, legislators, and members of Congress, in addition to Minnesota’s Secretary of State (and 1990 Truman Scholar) Steve Simon. He currently works full-time in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Carter plans to pursue an MPP and hopes to someday serve as a presidential speechwriter, working to connect people to politics through progressive and inclusive rhetoric. 

Contact: Email Carter (yost0056@umn.edu)

Some entries have been edited for length or clarity.