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2015-2016 Luce Scholars


Sista Jakelin Bonilla
Age: 24
Degree: B.A. in International Politics; Latin American Area Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nominating Institution: University of North Carolina
Field of Professional Interest: Immigration Advocacy

Originally from Los Angeles, Sista Jakelin “Jaki” Bonilla grew up in Siler City, North Carolina. She graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2012 with a major in Global Studies and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Jakelin is an immigration activist. She founded Linking Immigrants to New Communities, which helps ease the transition of recent immigrants through student interaction and awareness-raising in the community, and served on the UNC Emerging Communities Taskforce that established the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative, dedicated to developing a greater awareness of Latina/o issues, cultures and identities. Jakelin conducted ethnographic research and volunteered in Central and South America, served as co-chair of the Great Decisions Program, mentored in the Scholars Latino Initiative, and worked as a Senior Intern in the Bonners Leaders Program at the Campus Y, the oldest and largest student service and social justice organization on UNC campus. She currently serves as the director of the Campus Y’s Global Gap Year Fellowship. In Asia, Jakelin wishes to pursue opportunities to work with women leaders exploring justice in an intellectual and entrepreneurial environment.



Nickolas Clarke
Age: 26
Degree: B.A. in Environmental Studies, Westminster College
Nominating Institution: Furman University
Field of Professional Interest: Sustainable Development

Nick Clarke graduated from Westminster College in Salt Lake City in 2012, with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in French. After graduation he was awarded the Sustainable Technology Fellowship at Oberlin College where we worked with Dr. John Petersen, Dr. David Orr, and others on research around resource literacy, use, and conservation using data from a network of hundreds of real-time sensors throughout the Oberlin community. Since leaving Oberlin, he has continued his work in sustainable technology as a computer engineer for Lucid Design Group, a real-time energy and resource monitoring company. He hopes to continue his work in sustainable technology to help transform the ideals of sustainability into an established pillar of business practice and a cornerstone of individuals' lives. Nick's interest in sustainability has been fostered by a fascination with globalization. As a francophone, he has had the privilege to live and work in Paris, France and Montreal, Canada. In addition, he has worked as a volunteer in Haiti and Zambia. These experiences, and others, have impressed a deeply felt responsibility for global citizenship that directs his career and personal life today. Beyond his interests in sustainability and globalization, Nick is an avid backcountry skier, cyclist and mountaineer, born from a youth spent roaming the Wasatch Mountains and deserts of Utah.



Jenny Cooper
Age: 29
Degree: M.B.A. & M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, (expected); B.A. in Geography, University of California, Berkeley
Nominating Institution: University of Michigan
Field of Professional Interest: Climate Change Policy and Planning

Jenny Cooper is a graduate student at the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute, a partnership between the School of Natural Resources & Environment and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Jenny’s graduate work focuses on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the intersecting roles of the private and public sectors, and in May 2015, she is expecting to graduate with dual degrees: an M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment, and an MBA. Jenny is interested in urban climate policy and planning, and in working collaboratively with people across disciplines to find pragmatic strategies to drive greenhouse gas emissions reductions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. For her capstone project, she worked with a five-student team to conduct Detroit’s first-ever greenhouse gas emissions inventory—an accounting of all GHG emissions resulting from activities within the City of Detroit. The resulting report was published through the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems. Jenny is currently the manager of a peer coaching program for 30 students, and spent the past two summers working in environmental consulting, and urban climate and energy policy. She has been the recipient of numerous awards at University of Michigan, including the Dean’s Scholarship and the Dow Sustainability Fellowship. Prior to graduate school, Jenny worked at the Washington, DC office of the Environmental Defense Fund, a large U.S.-based environmental advocacy organization. During her three-year tenure at EDF, Jenny represented the organization at the United Nations climate negotiations, and worked closely with NGOs in the U.S. and abroad to develop policy to address greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and maritime shipping. Jenny graduated in 2008 with a B.A. (High Distinction) in Geography and a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was the co-founder of the Berkeley Project, the University’s largest community service event, and an active member of Cal Habitat for Humanity. In her free time Jenny enjoys rock climbing, cooking, and traveling by bicycle.



Lauren Dubowski
Age: 29
Degree: D.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Yale School of Drama, (expected); M.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Yale School of Drama; B.A./M.A. in French, Bryn Mawr College
Nominating Institution: Bryn Mawr College
Field of Professional Interest: Theatre

Lauren Dubowski is a theater artist, producer, and teacher committed to fostering international cultural exchange and understanding through the arts. She is pursuing a D.F.A. in the Department of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale School of Drama, where she currently holds a teaching fellowship and earned her M.F.A. in 2014. She was co-artistic director of the Yale Cabaret for its 2013-2014 season and an artistic associate for its 2012-2013 season, and she has collaborated on shows there as a creative producer, devisor, director, dramaturg, and/or performer since 2011. As a dramaturg, she has worked at Yale Repertory Theatre, Yale School of Drama, and with the Lucid Body Company/Impact Theatre in New York. Lauren is a founding member of the international theater collective Guilty by Association and participated in Yale School of Drama's summer program in theater for social change with the Baba Watoto Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2012. She worked with Headlong Dance Theater in Philadelphia for three years to help found and launch the Headlong Performance Institute, an interdisciplinary training program in performance creation, and she consults for Local Leaders/Global Lens, an international applied-theater and entrepreneurship program based in Los Angeles. Lauren's writings on art and culture have appeared on Culturebot.org and in the Krakow Post and Words Without Borders, and she was web managing editor of Theater magazine from 2012 to 2013. She has also worked as a grant and development writer for theater companies and institutions in New Haven, New York, and Philadelphia. Lauren received her B.A./M.A. in French from Bryn Mawr College and studied theater at Swarthmore College. She has been a Kosciuszko Foundation fellow at Jagiellonian University, Kraków, and a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellow at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin in Poland. Lauren grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.



Varsha Govindaraju
Age: 18
Degree: B.A. in Anthropology and Law, Societies, and Justice, University of Washington, (expected)
Nominating Institution: University of Washington
Field of Professional Interest: Public Interest Legal Advocacy and Teaching

In June of 2015, Varsha Govindaraju is expecting to receive her B.A. in Anthropology and Law, Societies and Justice (LSJ) with minors in Human Rights and Diversity from the University of Washington in Seattle. Growing up with immigrant Indian parents in Federal Way, a low-income neighborhood in Washington, Varsha is passionate about social justice and activism, and wishes to pursue a career as a public interest lawyer and a law professor. Varsha had a head start through the Robinson Center, an early entrance program at the University of Washington that allows students to start college early. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has actively engaged in community education and activism through various university and community projects. As assistant director for the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists (SARVA), she worked with the campus community to create educational programs and to build a safer campus through bystander intervention and community support. In addition, she helped program large-scale events such as 5k runs and open-mic events for survivors to raise awareness of sexual assault and relationship violence. She also worked for Columbia Legal Services, a local public-interest firm serving low-income communities through legal education and legal support. Currently, Varsha serves as the Director of Diversity Efforts of the UW student government and manages SARVA along with eight other diversity commissions on campus, working to educate and advocate for equity and equal rights. Varsha believes in the power of education to disrupt cycles of inequality and strives to be a part of a world working towards global understanding and radical activism.



Charlotte Lee
Age: 22
Degree: B.A. in Public Policy, Duke University, (expected)
Nominating Institution: Duke University
Field of Professional Interest: Medicine and Global Health

In May 2015, Charlotte Lee will graduate with highest distinction from Duke University with a B.A. in Public Policy and minors in Global Health and Chemistry. She plans to pursue a Masters in Public Health and an M.D., with residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She aspires to work on maternal and child health issues at the World Health Organization. Charlotte initially developed a passion for global health as an undergraduate, working at the Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research (WISER) in rural Kenya, where approximately one in three were living with HIV/AIDS. At WISER, she trained local research assistants for a study on the relationship between nutrition and cognitive ability and taught sex education in schools. She was a research associate and fieldworker for an epidemiological study in the Peruvian Amazon, where she also taught dental hygiene classes in Spanish to mothers and children in remote river communities. She was the Hepatitis B Policy Intern in New York City at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, which mainly serves low-income Asian immigrants and Asian Americans. While there, she coordinated and marketed the first-ever NYC Hepatitis B Awareness Week with NYC City Council and co-authored a successful CDC grant proposal to expand hepatitis B screening and to train general practitioners in the testing and treatment of hepatitis B. She loves to travel and studied abroad in Istanbul, Turkey, where she learned about Middle Eastern history, culture, religion, and politics. She enjoys volunteering with Duke Hospice, developing relationships with patients at the end of their lives and supporting their families. She is also a volunteer ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor for Latino community members through Duke GANO (Gente Aprendiendo para Nuevas Oportunidades). She is presently working as a research assistant at the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, where she contributes to international global health research by working to improve monitoring and evaluation strategies related to the wellbeing of orphans. She completed her senior honors thesis on the relationship between distrust of the government and vaccine refusal by performing quantitative statistical analyses on survey data from over 1,200 American parents. She is collaborating with researchers from Johns Hopkins and Emory to submit her paper for publication in the internationally acclaimed journal, Vaccine.



Samuel Lewis
Age: 22
Degree: B.A. in Biology, Williams College, (expected)
Nominating Institution: Williams College
Field of Professional Interest: Medicine and Global Health

Sam Lewis grew up in a small town just outside of Albany, New York. He has been interested in health and medicine from a young age, and has conducted biomedical and cellular biology research at Albany Medical College, the University of Pennsylvania, Williams College, and the University of Washington, where he was a 2013 Amgen Scholar in the Center for Lung Biology. Inspired by the power of science, Sam aspires to a future when the benefits of modern medicine are shared equally across the globe, and all people have access to the healthcare needed to lead healthy lives. In pursuing his interest in global health and development, Sam has taken courses and acted as a graduate-level teaching assistant at the Center for Development Economics at Williams College, studied abroad at Université Paris Diderot in Paris, and worked as a research assistant for Innovations for Poverty Action in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In Burkina Faso, Sam assisted in the design and implementation of a two-year randomized controlled trial studying the benefits of an agricultural inventory credit system, an experience that cemented his passion to reduce inequality and improve health globally. Sam has also explored poverty and the challenges facing marginalized communities within the United States, volunteering with the Washington D.C. homeless community and interning at an immigrant and refugee health clinic in Portland, Maine. Most recently, Sam investigated traditional belief systems, health issues, and environmental injustice in Navajo Nation as a Gaudino Fellow. Sam will graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College in June 2015 with a B.A. in Biology. He is the recipient of a Dr. Herchel Smith Fellowship for study at the University of Cambridge, where he will pursue graduate studies in public health. Ultimately, Sam hopes to work at the intersection of global health research and policy, improving health care quality and access in low- and middle-income countries by implementing evidence-based policy. In addition to his interest in health, Sam helps lead efforts to increase institutional commitment to sustainability through his work with the Williams Environmental Council and the Williams Divestment Initiative. Growing up with road trips to the National Parks, Sam loves to spend time outdoors biking and hiking, and appreciates a good meal and movie.



Aubrey Menard
Age: 28
Degree: M.Phil. in Politics, University of Oxford; B.A. in Government, Smith College
Nominating Institution: Mount Holyoke College
Field of Professional Interest: Politics

Aubrey Menard recently finished her M.Phil. degree at the University of Oxford with a concentration in Politics. Her thesis focused on extractive sector governance in Eurasia. She first became interested in the politics surrounding oil, gas, and mining while on a trip to Azerbaijan with a delegation of young professionals in national security. As the group toured oil fields and schools, hospitals, and various other community resources sponsored by British Petroleum, she began to wonder what impact such a high level of foreign direct investment had in a developing country. In graduate school, Aubrey explored these questions with a focus on the politics of former Soviet states and their political and economic transitions. In pursuit of her research, she spent the summer of 2013 as a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholar in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia. Aubrey also spent several years working in U.S. domestic politics. She was the Associate Director of Development at the Truman National Security Project, a D.C.-based non-profit that brings young progressive leaders in politics, policy and the military together to articulate a strong national security policy. She led a team of three employees to raise the organization’s annual operating budget of $4 million. Prior to her work at the Truman Project, Aubrey worked on several political campaigns in New York, Virginia, and Michigan, and learned how to organize communities, work with volunteers, empower unlikely activists, coordinate with allied organizations, and gain buy-in from community leaders. Aubrey spent many years working as a volunteer and employee of the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, helping rehabilitate survivors of landmine accidents in Central America by providing them with prosthetics, wheelchairs, sustainable employment opportunities, and reintegration services. She was awarded the Ruth D. Tuttle Prize for International Relations and Peace Studies for these efforts. Aubrey was awarded the Kennedy Prize for Promotion of Democratic Values and the University of Indiana’s Everett Helm Visiting Research Fellowship. She presented her research at the 2014 Tamkang World Forum in Taiwan. She is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society, was a Replenishing Democracy Institute Fellow with the Ford Foundation, and is a 2008 graduate of Smith College. She lives in Washington, DC where she is a political consultant, yoga teacher, and music blogger.



Christian Oldham
Age: 22
Degree: Management, Willamette University, (expected); B.A. in Art History, Willamette University
Nominating Institution: Willamette University
Field of Professional Interest: Art

Christian Alborz Oldham was born to his Iranian mother and Iowan father in Woodland Hills, California during the Rodney King riots. In May 2015, Christian will complete a joint degree – a B.A. in Art History and an M.B.A. with an entrepreneurship focus – from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. A multidisciplinary artist, Christian incorporates temporary and permanent sculpture and installation, writing, publishing, video, still images and music in his artistic practice. Video and still image works have included commissions for popular groups Oneohtrix Point Never, Dirty Projectors, and Death Grips. In 2013 Christian received a Carson Grant to exhibit in Willamette University Hatfield Library's Private Collection Room. He has served as creative consultant to Yale Union, a contemporary art center in Portland, Oregon since its founding in 2008. His work has been featured in art and technology publications including Rhizome, Wired, and Massage. He has also produced a series of covers for de Appel’s arts and culture journal, F.R. David, and continues to serve as web designer for Aaron Flint Jamison’s Veneer magazine. Christian has practiced Japanese language and ikebana for three years, beginning studies with America’s only Ryusei-ha instructor and exhibiting work at Portland’s Japanese Garden. Most recently, Christian has engaged German designer Bernhard Willhelm in a collaborative effort to fashion humorous wearable technology.



Paul Shortell
Age: 23
Degree: B.A. in Political Science, Swarthmore College
Nominating Institution: Swarthmore College
Field of Professional Interest: Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Development

Paul Shortell is an analyst of environmental and energy issues. Paul currently evaluates overseas political and commercial risks for U.S. clients at TD International LLC, a strategic advisory firm based in Washington, D.C. He previously engaged with a wide range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors at the Inter-American Dialogue, a leading center for policy analysis and exchange on Latin American affairs. While at the Dialogue, he authored major reports assessing prospects for natural gas use in Central America’s electricity matrix and reviewing the challenges associated with Mexico’s landmark energy reform. His work has been featured in publications including the Financial Times, World Politics Review, Latin Business Chronicle and Forbes. His engagement with natural resource issues is motivated by a desire to shape more effective environmental policies and to improve development outcomes. Growing up in Atlanta during a period of severe drought, Paul developed a keen interest in water resources and worked with local NGOs to alleviate pollution in urban waterways. He went on to receive fellowships to research hydropower development and energy geopolitics in South America. At the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, he produced diplomatic cables on in-country environmental issues and participated in a major nuclear energy conference. He has also engaged in research and advocacy with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Generación Política Sur, Georgia Conservancy and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. Paul graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College in 2013 with an honors degree in political science. A fluent speaker of Spanish, he has studied and worked abroad in Argentina, Mexico and Costa Rica. Paul is an avid swimmer, classical musician and granola enthusiast.



Laura Shunk
Age: 29
Degree: B.A. in International Relations, Claremont McKenna College
Nominating Institution: Claremont McKenna College
Field of Professional Interest: International Sustainable Food System

Laura Shunk is a writer and editor who covers the national restaurant and bar industry as well as the local scenes in New York City and, occasionally, Denver, Colorado. Save for a yearlong foray into strategy consulting, she’s been in the food and beverage industry for her entire career. She has managed national training programs for Chipotle Mexican Grill, sold boutique fine wine, and worked in the front of the house of restaurants. She has also provided media, marketing and branding advisory services for a variety of hospitality industry clients including fine dining establishments, wine and spirits brands, restaurant-related technology startups, and a restaurant-oriented law practice, both as an independent consultant and as a senior account executive with New York-based public relations firm Baltz & Company. For the past two years, she has been the editor of the Village Voice food section, where she has directed coverage and managed a team of 20 freelancers to carry out the section’s goals. Passionate about all aspects of the food community, Laura studied global food politics at Claremont McKenna College, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She sits on the board of directors for the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of impoverished communities and food banks in New York City.



Amarynth Sichel
Age: 25
Degree: B.A. in History, Barnard College
Nominating Institution: Barnard College
Field of Professional Interest: Policy and International Relations, Gender Equality

Amarynth Sichel is manager of government relations and public policy at ML Strategies, a Boston-based government relations consulting group, where she specializes in analyzing local and international political environments as they impact business opportunities for clients ranging from large corporations to small nonprofits. Prior to joining ML Strategies, she was an analyst for the consulting group’s law firm affiliate, Mintz Levin. As an analyst, she worked on a wide range of matters, including documenting political conditions in Guatemala to substantiate a client’s claim for asylum, drafting affidavits for victims of domestic violence, and closing merger & acquisition transactions. During her time at ML Strategies and Mintz Levin, Amarynth sought professional opportunities to work for women’s empowerment. For the past two years, she has worked with a pro bono client dedicated to ending teen dating violence, effectively lobbying the Massachusetts Legislature to pass a budget amendment that funds healthy dating education programs in public schools. While at Mintz Levin, she coordinated the firm’s signature pro bono initiative, the Domestic Violence Project, working with firm attorneys, women’s shelters, and legal aid organizations to provide victims of domestic abuse with free legal representation. Since moving to Boston in 2011, Amarynth has volunteered with Discovering Justice, an organization that provides supplemental educational opportunities for students in low-income schools. She also volunteers as a tutor and mentor, helping eighth graders from underperforming Boston Public Schools improve their writing skills and apply to high school. Amarynth graduated from Barnard College in 2011 with a B.A. in History, and a concentration in Rights, Citizenship and the Law. While at Barnard, she was President and Donations Manager of FeelGood, a student-run food business that raised money and awareness to help end poverty and world hunger. She also served as a Speaking Fellow at Barnard, leading interactive public speaking workshops teaching students to become effective communicators, negotiators, and public speakers. In her senior year of college, she was selected to help develop content for and teach the lab component of the college accredited course, “Rhetorical Choices: Theory and Practice of Public Speaking,” the required training course for all Speaking Fellows. A running enthusiast, Amarynth delights in exploring both her home city of Boston and new places on foot. She also enjoys cooking and designing recipes that emphasize locally sourced ingredients.



Alessondra Speidel
Age: 25
Degree: Ph.D. in Cardiac Tissue Engineering, Imperial College London, (expected); B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering, Duke University
Nominating Institution: Duke University
Field of Professional Interest: Biomedical Engineering, Medicine

Alessondra Speidel is interested in the intersections of research, engineering, commercialization and policy in a medical context. She will complete her Ph.D. studies on heart regeneration at Imperial College London in June 2015. Her Ph.D. project, funded by the Marshall Scholarship and Rosetrees Trust, explores strategies for imaging, understanding and improving heart tissue regeneration after heart injury. Alessondra graduated with Distinction in Biomedical Engineering and a Howard G. Clark Award for excellence in research from Duke University, obtaining a B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Chemistry in 2011. As a Pratt Fellow at Duke, she published her research on the optimization of drug delivery methods, focusing on how cells respond to their surface environments. Through her immersive Collegiate Athletic Premedical Experience (CAPE) internship shadowing various surgical, clinical, and laboratory medicine professionals at the Duke University Medical Center, she fostered and developed her interest in medicine. Outside of her academic work, she was a Baldwin Scholar, freelance SAT tutor and college application consultant, Duke University peer tutor, Imperial College student union steward and bar staff member, Ph.D. Department committee member, Biomedical Young Entrepreneurs Scheme’s best healthcare business plan winner, and member of the Duke Varsity Swim Team. Before continuing on to medical school, Alessondra is interested in broadening her perspectives on medical policy and exploring the considerations taken by organizations that regulate clinical trials. She also enjoys exploring different cultural and personal horizons through travel.



O’Mara Taylor
Age: 25
Degree: B.A. in Environmental Studies, Vassar College
Nominating Institution: Vassar College
Field of Professional Interest: Public Health

O’Mara Taylor is an advocate for community development and public health. She currently works in fundraising and programming at Primeros Pasos, a rural clinic in Guatemala, which provides medical and dental services with a focus on nutrition and women’s health. During a gap year before college, O’Mara volunteered at organizations in Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina. Through her work teaching sex education in the slums outside Buenos Aires and as a women’s health volunteer at a small clinic in the mountains of Peru, O’Mara began to appreciate the complexities of development efforts and became interested in community health issues. She went on to graduate with honors from Vassar College, with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a focus in Public Health. During her sophomore summer, O’Mara worked at an inner-city health clinic in her hometown of Boston as a Summer Fellow with Health Leads, an organization dedicated to breaking the link between poverty and bad health. In college, she also sang a cappella and led the Vassar Women’s Rugby team to the Sweet 16 round of Nationals as co-captain, going on to break multiple school records and become a Division II All-American Player for the 2011-2012 season. Before moving to Guatemala, O’Mara spent two years working for the Environmental Solutions branch of FTI Consulting on large-scale pollution cleanup projects. During this time, she also volunteered with Do One Thing, an HIV and Hepatitis C mobile testing organization that works in at-risk communities in West and Southwest Philadelphia, doing neighborhood education and testing outreach. O’Mara plans to continue pursuing a career promoting women’s health education and access to contraception through community-led health initiatives. When not at the clinic or assisting with workshops in the field, she can be found hiking nearby mountains, playing guitar, and finding ways to add avocado to every single meal.



Brandon Tensley
Age: 24
Degree: M. Phil in European Politics and Society, University of Oxford, (expected); B.A. in German Studies and Political Science, Furman University
Nominating Institution: Furman University
Field of Professional Interest: Human Rights and Social Inequality

Brandon Tensley is from a lively black community in the oft-maligned state of South Carolina. At the moment, however, he is an M.Phil. candidate in Politics (European Politics and Society) at the University of Oxford, where his core interests lie at the intersection of minority politics (including LGBTQ rights) and nationalism in Europe. Outside of class Brandon is co-editor of EUspeak and Politics in Spires, two of the university’s online international affairs publications. His work has appeared in Time and The Week. Last year Brandon was one of six Oxford graduate students who were selected to represent Oxford at The Europaeum, a series of discussions at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on some of the challenges confronting Europe today. Before graduate school he was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany, where he taught a range of bilingual classes to middle and high schoolers in the urban Ruhr area and researched modern Germany’s particular brand of multiculturalism and treatment of ethnic and religious minorities. And prior to his Fulbright year, Brandon was an American Fellow of Humanity in Action (HIA), and spent a summer in Denmark and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He credits HIA with solidifying his passion for grappling with issues of human rights and social inequality. Brandon received his B.A. in German Studies and Political Science from Furman University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude in 2012. Brandon founded Men of Distinction, a local mentoring program for at-risk middle school males, in his junior year and stayed actively involved through college. He also enjoyed leading the university’s Model United Nations team to various competitions throughout the U.S. Brandon believes that context influences advocacy, and that exposures to other cultures will benefit his work in human rights policy. In his free time he enjoys trying to learn Briticisms, debating friends and strangers alike about cultural representations of feminism in pop music, and doing gymnastics – as a child he longed to be an Olympic gymnast.



Tsione Wolde-Michael
Age: 28
Degree: Ph.D. in History; African American Studies, Harvard University, (expected); M.A. in History; African American Studies, Harvard University; B.A. in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Macalester College
Nominating Institution: Harvard University
Field of Professional Interest: Public Policy

Tsione Wolde-Michael is a Ph.D. candidate in History at Harvard University with a secondary field concentration in African and African American Studies. She is also affiliated with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and participates in policy working groups at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Tsione’s academic interests have intersected with public history and public policy to highlight the histories of marginalized groups and provide critical policy recommendations on issues ranging from economic diplomacy in east Africa to gender and security in Eastern Europe. Her professional experience in public history includes working at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the country’s first national museum dedicated to tackling this vast and complex subject matter. Tsione’s diverse work in the NMAAHC’s Office of Curatorial Affairs has included research, writing, content development and shaping permanent collections for a range of inaugural exhibitions, including the much anticipated Slavery and Freedom exhibit. In the realm of public policy, Tsione has conducted policy analysis for the Department of Business and Economic Diplomacy at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Addis Ababa. This work helped the Ministry to better attract and maintain foreign direct investment, and required coordination with local officials, policy experts, international business investors and the World Bank. Tsione has won fellowships and awards for her research from the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education, among others. She holds a B.A. in Women and Gender Studies from Macalester College where she was a Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellow. Tsione grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota.



Diana Won
Age: 26
Degree: M.P.P. in Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, (expected); B.A. in Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University
Nominating Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Field of Professional Interest: International Development

Diana Won is a graduate student in international policy and development at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. As the daughter of Korean immigrants, she is drawn to international affairs, her curiosity shaped by her desire to understand why people, like her parents, leave their homelands, whether by choice or by force. At Ford, Diana serves as co-chair of the International Policy Students Association and graduate student representative to the Ford School Alumni Board. She also works as an associate at the Enterprise for a Sustainable World and the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Global Network, researching and strengthening global strategy to promote sustainable, inclusive business practices. She works to integrate knowledge across the global network which currently operates in 18 countries, and also to coordinate the annual BoP Global Summit. Diana is a consultant for the William Davidson Institute, investigating a key public-private partnership agreement between USAID and a large corporation. She also works as an intern at the USAID Global Development Lab, researching data innovations that help inform more effective development programming. This past summer Diana served as a political section intern at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, fortifying contacts in the LGBT community to support a long-term equal rights campaign and analyzing human rights and equality issues for indigenous communities. Diana graduated from Rutgers University in 2011, studying Planning and Public Policy with minors in Spanish and Women’s and Gender Studies. She researched community economic development domestically, contributing to Promoting Sustainable Local and Community Economic Development, written by Roland V. Anglin, and worked in Newark, New Jersey at the nonprofit and municipal levels. Her passion for travel was sparked through study abroad in Argentina and continued through her Fulbright grant in Bucaramanga, Colombia, where she helped build mutual understanding in and out of the classroom through contributions to Paréntesis on gender issues in Latin America and volunteer work at a USAID/Mercy Corps project to integrate landmine survivors into mainstream society. After returning from Colombia and prior to graduate school, Diana worked at Sheldon Lobel, P.C. as a paralegal, to better understand the intersection of business, law, and policy in zoning and urban development. Diana hopes to work at the intersection of policy and business to promote inclusive development.



Lanier Zimmer
Age: 27
Degree: M.S. in Organizational Change, Northwestern University (expected); B.A. in Psychology, Claremont McKenna College
Nominating Institution: Claremont McKenna College
Field of Professional Interest: Education and Nonprofit Sector

Lanier Zimmer is Assistant Director of Recruitment and Placement for the Golden Apple Foundation, a non-profit that gives awards to excellent teachers and prepares future teachers through a college scholarship program. In her first year, Lanier initiated and led three major reform projects. She streamlined the application process by moving the application online and created an online job board, which resulted in 100% placement for graduating students. Most recently, recognizing that the preferred method of communication for high school students is texting, she initiated the successful use of a texting platform to communicate with them. In January, Lanier started a master’s program at Northwestern University in Organizational Change, which focuses on leadership and organizational development, to further her goal of leading an education non-profit. Earlier, Lanier worked for three years in admissions for the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. She recruited and provided outreach to first generation, low income and underrepresented students from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and led an expanded early outreach program for underserved 9th and 10th graders. Working in CPS, she witnessed the dramatic inadequacy of education for students in poor neighborhoods and the dire need for improvement. During her time in admissions, the University enrolled a record number of students from CPS. Lanier first worked with teenagers after college, when she obtained certification to teach English as foreign language through Cambridge University. She taught in a Basque public high school near San Sebastian. After the school year, Lanier was invited to lead the first ever summer English program and enjoyed creating a curriculum, introducing students to Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and sharing 4th of July traditions. In college, Lanier was the captain of Claremont McKenna College’s water polo team, perfected the skill of walking backwards as a tour guide and kept 20 freshmen alive as the leader of a wilderness orientation trip. She spent a semester abroad in Quito, Ecuador, where she lived with a family, took classes in Spanish, and interned at a daycare for children whose parents worked as scavengers in Quito’s city dump. Living immersed in another culture, speaking another language and gaining an addiction to ahi (hot sauce) constituted one of Lanier’s most valuable life events. Lanier served as Co-President of the CMC Chicago Alumni Chapter and recently joined the board of her high school alumni association. Her latest personal accomplishment was completing her first (and last) Chicago Marathon.


2014-2015 Luce Scholars

Jacob P. Bogart
Age: 22
Degree: B.A. in Globalization Studies and French, Ohio State University
Nominating Institution: Tulane University
Field of Professional Interest: Human Rights and the United Nations

Jacob Bogart will graduate summa cum laude, Phi Kappa Phi, and with honors research distinction with a B.A. in Globalization Studies and French, with a minor in Geography, from The Ohio State University in May 2014. He hopes to eventually pursue a degree in law, focusing on international human rights law, and work for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. While an undergraduate, Jacob was the president of Amnesty International at OSU, a delegate for his model United Nations team, a peer research mentor, a page at the Ohio State House, and resident advisor. His interest in human rights led him to spend a summer in Haiti, conducting independent research on how non-governmental organizations have affected tent camps after the 2010 earthquake. Jacob presented his research on NGOs at an international conference on sustainability in Hiroshima, Japan. While in Haiti, Jacob also worked for the Haitian American Caucus as a primary education intern, researching Haitian education policy and teaching English classes. During his junior year, he studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, where he worked for Human Rights Watch as an advocacy intern, attending the 21st session of the Human Rights Council. In addition to his internship, he had the fortune of working as a researcher for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on North Korea, co-authoring a report used as an annex in an United Nations resolution. Jacob spent last spring abroad in Paris where he lived with a host family, volunteered at a local non-profit, and studied French at the Sorbonne. After his year abroad, Jacob spent a summer at Princeton University as a Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute Fellow. This spring, Jacob will have the opportunity to represent the United States on multiple occasions. First, he is travelling with USA-Maghreb Youth Debates to Morocco to debate students in French on youth-related issues. After graduating, Jacob will leave for Munich, Germany, where, as a Head of State delegate, he will attend the G20 Youth Summit, authoring communiqués and interacting with youth from around the world. In his free time, Jacob loves to read, travel, rap at karaoke, and eat cheese.


2014-2015 Luce Scholars

Jacob P. Bogart
Age: 22
Degree: B.A. in Globalization Studies and French, Ohio State University
Nominating Institution: Tulane University
Field of Professional Interest: Human Rights and the United Nations

Jacob Bogart will graduate summa cum laude, Phi Kappa Phi, and with honors research distinction with a B.A. in Globalization Studies and French, with a minor in Geography, from The Ohio State University in May 2014. He hopes to eventually pursue a degree in law, focusing on international human rights law, and work for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. While an undergraduate, Jacob was the president of Amnesty International at OSU, a delegate for his model United Nations team, a peer research mentor, a page at the Ohio State House, and resident advisor. His interest in human rights led him to spend a summer in Haiti, conducting independent research on how non-governmental organizations have affected tent camps after the 2010 earthquake. Jacob presented his research on NGOs at an international conference on sustainability in Hiroshima, Japan. While in Haiti, Jacob also worked for the Haitian American Caucus as a primary education intern, researching Haitian education policy and teaching English classes. During his junior year, he studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, where he worked for Human Rights Watch as an advocacy intern, attending the 21st session of the Human Rights Council. In addition to his internship, he had the fortune of working as a researcher for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on North Korea, co-authoring a report used as an annex in an United Nations resolution. Jacob spent last spring abroad in Paris where he lived with a host family, volunteered at a local non-profit, and studied French at the Sorbonne. After his year abroad, Jacob spent a summer at Princeton University as a Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute Fellow. This spring, Jacob will have the opportunity to represent the United States on multiple occasions. First, he is travelling with USA-Maghreb Youth Debates to Morocco to debate students in French on youth-related issues. After graduating, Jacob will leave for Munich, Germany, where, as a Head of State delegate, he will attend the G20 Youth Summit, authoring communiqués and interacting with youth from around the world. In his free time, Jacob loves to read, travel, rap at karaoke, and eat cheese.


Benjamin John Chin
Age: 25
Degree: B.A. in Public health and Linguistics, Rutgers University
Nominating Institution: Rutgers University
Field of Professional Interest: International Drug Policy and Addiction Treatment & Recovery

Ben Chin, now 25 years old, has been in recovery from addiction since age 19. He is currently a senior at Rutgers University majoring in Public Health and Linguistics, and plans to pursue a law degree with his sights set on influencing public health policy both in the United States and abroad. At Rutgers, Ben has been a resident and active member of the Rutgers Recovery House as well as a leader of the Rutgers Mountainview Project, an organization supporting ex-offenders as they make the transition from incarceration to higher education. In addition, Ben has participated in a number of leadership development activities on campus, including the Rising Leaders Institute, the Leadership Quest Summer Program, and the Cap and Skull Senior Honors Society. Beyond Rutgers, Ben is a founding member of the non-profit organization Young People in Recovery (YPR), a grassroots organization that mobilizes young people to advocate for improved recovery support services. Ben has also completed an internship at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services, where he worked in the Office of Planning, Policy, and Innovation. In January 2013, Ben and a colleague from YPR established PTR Associates, a consulting firm dedicated to creating recovery-oriented solutions in order to address disparities in the delivery of prevention, treatment, and recovery services. In its first year, PTR Associates has worked with both the federal government and multiple state governments as well as such nationally recognized organizations as Hazelden, the Treatment Research Institute, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This past spring Ben was selected as the New Jersey recipient of the 2013 Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Ben wishes to thank his family as well as his mentors and friends at Rutgers for supporting him throughout his journey.


Joshua A. Cole
Age: 22
Degree: B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and French Studies, Boston University
Nominating Institution: Boston University
Field of Professional Interest: Global Health

Raised in a rich cultural environment in Atlanta, Georgia, Joshua Cole developed artistic and intellectual interests early on as a humanist and a scientist. At Boston University, Joshua pursued a dual degree in French studies and biochemistry and molecular biology. During summer 2013, he conducted research at the University of Pennsylvania where he characterized the effect of Flaxseeds on HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and the modulation of cell receptors vital to HIV entry. His results showed a reduction in HIV entry and oxidative stress in the brain, which may influence therapies for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Joshua also interned with Act-up Paris in 2012, which is the leading HIV/AIDS advocacy group in France that seeks to reduce the hardship of the AIDS pandemic. That same year, Joshua investigated malarial infection via Plasmodium falciparum at Tufts University where he identified four novel parasite ligands, which may contribute to the basis of a multi-unit vaccine. In October 2012, he presented his research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) where the American Physiological Society honored him with an award for his presentation. In addition to his research, Joshua also studied the mathematical modeling of HIV and influenza epidemics through the Outreach Conference created by the HSPH Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Through these experiences, Joshua has learned about the socio-cultural norms, local realities, and developmental factors that affect health around the world, which has inspired him to pursue a career in assessing traditional medical systems and addressing global issues of infectious diseases, malnutrition, and health disparity. He is committed to improving the health of populations through integrative practices and policies, such as the integration of traditional and allopathic medicine. As a humanist, Joshua has a natural inclination to learn languages. He enjoys speaking French, Spanish, and Portuguese and plans to learn Amharic and Arabic. He is a Gates Millennium Scholar as well as a Posse Scholar and mentor.


Matthew D. Cook
Age: 23
Degree: B.A. in Architecture, University of Notre Dame
Nominating Institution: University of Notre Dame
Field of Professional Interest: Architecture and Urban Planning

Matt is an architecture and Italian language student in his final semester at the University of Notre Dame. After a childhood spent drawing in and around the fantastic buildings of his native Chicago, Matt chose to study architecture and urban design in order to continue cultivating his creativity while working with and for others on a daily basis. While he loves the aesthetic puzzle of every design, it is really the human element of architecture that makes the profession so appealing for Matt. His studies have allowed him to travel extensively, and his enriching experiences both at home and abroad have greatly influenced his understanding of the role of tradition in architecture. From Rome (where he studied for a year) to China to the American South, Matt is most moved by traditional architecture and the story it tells about a people and their history. Most recently, Matt’s travels led him to Havana, Cuba, where he and his studio produced an urban masterplan for an abandoned waterfront site. In addition to planning several new blocks containing civic buildings, public space, and affordable housing, Matt also designed a 750 seat concert hall, faced in local stone, on a site adjacent to a primary public plaza. This semester, Matt will complete his thesis design for a winery in Vernazza, a coastal village in northwest Italy that was hit by catastrophic landslides in 2011. The winery will provide a link between the town and its natural setting, reinvigorating the traditional viticultural economy of Vernazza while making the land safer for human habitation by increasing cultivation. Matt has also been a lifelong student of languages; he started learning French at age five and began his study of Italian when he started college. He now has the pleasure of helping others pursue mastery of a language in his role as a French and Italian tutor at Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures. When he does (occasionally) leave his drafting desk, Matt can be found making music with his friends, either at the piano, which he has played since age five, or on the guitar his grandfather built. He also enjoys woodworking and is currently working on a wine cabinet to accompany his thesis design. Matt hopes that by looking to the past to generate design solutions for the future, his work will bring renewed awareness to the importance of tradition in architecture.


Joshua B. Freedman
Age: 24
Degree: B.A. in Public Policy, Stanford University
Nominating Institution: Stanford University
Field of Professional Interest: Public Policy and Journalism

Josh Freedman is a policy analyst in the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC. In this role, he researches and writes about economic and social policy in the United States. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Reuters, Quartz, CNN.com, and a variety of other print and online publications. Josh is also a contributing writer for Forbes magazine online, covering the political economics of higher education. He is interested in the philosophical foundations of public policy decisions and institutions, the intersection of the government and the economy, and the design of social insurance programs. Josh graduated with a B.A. in Public Policy (concentration: Ethics) from Stanford University in 2011, where he received the Ann C. Seminara award for Outstanding Senior in Public Policy and the Outstanding Senior Practicum award for a project on high school graduation standards in California. While in school, he interned at National Journal magazine, conducted research on political corruption connected to the nonprofit sector, and worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the Public Policy Program. He served as editor-in-chief of The Unofficial Stanford Blog, the independent student blog, and wrote, acted, and produced comedy as part of Stanford’s sketch comedy troupe. When not thinking about the economy or philosophy, Josh enjoys making people laugh: He performs standup and improv comedy and is a frequent contributor to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, an online humor magazine. His satirical essay, “It’s Not You, It’s Quantitative Cost-Benefit Analysis” was selected for inclusion in the forthcoming book, “The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.” Josh hails from the oft-maligned state of New Jersey.


Nicole S. Gunawansa
Age: 21
Degree: B.S. in Neuroscience, Washington & Lee University
Nominating Institution: Washington & Lee University
Field of Professional Interest: Medicine and Public Health

Nicole Gunawansa grew up in a lively Sri Lankan household in Portsmouth, Virginia. After spending a significant amount of time volunteering at hospitals and homeless shelters in and around Portsmouth, Nicole developed a deep-seeded interest in medicine and the role that poverty plays in equal access to medical treatment. In May 2014 Nicole will graduate from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia with a B.S. in neuroscience and an added emphasis in Poverty and Human Capability Studies. As a Washington and Lee University Robert E. Lee Research Scholar, Nicole has spent four years participating in behavioral neurological research that focuses on the impact of obesity and gonadal hormones on spatial and episodic cognition. Her research was well received at the National Society of Neuroscience conference in November of 2013, and a paper on this topic is slated for submission to the Journal of Physiology and Behavior in the spring of 2014. Nicole is a Bonner Scholar and AmeriCorps member and has dedicated over 900 hours to both domestic and international community service. She has worked with various organizations throughout the Lexington community, including the Rockbridge Area Health Center, the Leadership Team of W&L Campus Kitchens, and several local afterschool programs. She also spent time volunteering in Birmingham, Alabama, where she worked with programs such as Alabama A+ and Focus First to promote the welfare of Birmingham youth. In an attempt to further explore the relationship between medicine and poverty, Nicole became involved with the Rockbridge Community Health Needs Assessment via the MAPP Project (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnership) in 2012. She also spent a semester abroad in Denmark studying the impact of the Scandinavian Healthcare Model on different sectors of European society. In the summer of 2013, Nicole was awarded both a Johnson Opportunity Grant and a Shepherd Consortium International Internship, enabling her to spend two months in Ghana teaching English at Ashaiman Apostolic Academy and volunteering at Kaneshie Polyclinic. Nicole’s record of domestic and international service, in conjunction with her background in science, motivates her to pursue her dream of becoming a physician capable of catering to the underprivileged populations of the world.


Joël J. Hage
Age: 23
Degree: B.A., Global Studies, International Politics and Middle East Area Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nominating Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Field of Professional Interest: International Development and Urban Planning

Joël Hage is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), where he majors in global studies and minors in the Arabic language. A Morehead-Cain Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Joël has conducted ethnographic research across the Mediterranean interned with a community development organization in South Africa and a global impact-investing firm in Washington, D.C. Committed to a community-based approach to international development, Joël has had opportunities to immerse himself in rural and urban communities in Guatemala, Lebanon, Italy, Mexico, and South Africa. In addition to co-authoring a textbook chapter comparing immigration policy in the U.S. and Europe, Joël is currently writing an honors thesis focusing on public opinion surrounding electoral reform in multi-confessional Lebanon. Back at UNC, as a member of the executive board of the Campus Y—the university's center for social justice—Joël has worked closely with passionate students and community organizations on issues ranging from immigration inequality, access to education, and youth empowerment. Also at UNC, Joël has organized workshops and orientations on global engagement, founded an organization to provide scholarships for South African children of color, and is currently teaching a seminar course on Lebanon. Joël hopes to assist marginalized communities both domestically and internationally through a career at the crossroads of urban planning and international development.


Michelle Huang
Age: 21
Degree: B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
Nominating Institution: Cornell University
Field of Professional Interest:International Labor Law

Michelle Huang will graduate from Cornell University in May of 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations and a minor in Law and Society. She began her undergraduate education at Wellesley College, where she discovered her interest in economics, law and policy. Outside of class, she found a mouthpiece for her interest at the college radio station, WZLY, where she was appointed News Director in her first year. Inspired by her experiences at a women’s college, Michelle worked at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, where she analyzed progress and drafted grants for programs supporting UN Security Council Resolutions on women and peace and security. After transferring to Cornell, these interests culminated in an interdisciplinary study of labor and employment law. Her junior year, she worked at the New York City Commission on Human Rights where she aided in the successful settlement of a multi-complainant race discrimination suit by conducting proof in pattern and practice statistical analysis. Her senior year, she worked at Proskauer Rose, where she helped develop and organize an online database for the firm’s archival case reference material. She also assisted in a pro-bono case filling a U-Visa for a noncitizen crime victim. Academically, Michelle has been placed on the ILR School Dean’s List every semester and expects to graduate with honors, pending completion of her thesis research on local adaptations to globalization in the New York City Garment District. Michelle’s interest in the intersection of economics, law and policy has inspired her to pursue competition in both collegiate policy debate and British Parliamentary debate for the Cornell Forensics Society, where she currently serves as the Vice President of External Relations. Notably, she is the first member of the society to achieve competitive success in both policy and British Parliamentary debate. Beyond competition, Michelle also performs outreach at the Finger Lakes Residential Center, where she spends time teaching juvenile delinquents about debate and public speaking. In her free time, Michelle enjoys blogging about her amateur forays into cooking and maintaining her black belt in Tae Kwon Do.


Cindy K. Y. Lung
Age: 24
Degrees: B.A. in Education Studies and Sociology, Brown University;
M.A. in Urban Education Policy, Brown University
Nominating Institution: Brown University
Field of Professional Interest: Education Research and Policy

Cindy Lung was born in San Francisco and raised in nearby San Lorenzo, California, where she attended public schools for her primary and secondary education. Raised by a hard-working immigrant mother who worked as a janitor, Cindy became the first in her family to graduate from high school. In 2008, she entered Brown University in Rhode Island and studied education psychology, policy, and history. At Brown, she received the Evelyn Jacobs Reisman and Karen T. Romer undergraduate research awards to conduct achievement tests and qualitative interviews with low-income Chinese immigrant children and their mothers to document their learning beliefs and how their beliefs influence their actual learning and achievement. In addition to her research, Cindy served as a teaching assistant for an introductory sociology course and a graduate-level research methodology course. Her interests in teaching led her to conduct TOEFL practice sessions with international high school students for three summers, teach English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at a community center, and lead an adult ESOL literacy program that provides free ESOL courses for adult immigrants in Providence, Rhode Island. After completing her Bachelor’s in Education Studies and Sociology, Cindy pursued her Master’s in Education Policy at Brown and interned at Rhode Island Kids Count where she was a contributing writer and data analyst for the organization’s annual publication that examines sixty-eight indicators that affect the lives of children. Currently, Cindy serves as Fulbright Fellow in Prizren, Kosovo, where she assists with English instruction at a public elementary school and collects student-level data through focus groups and questionnaires to examine Kosovar youth perspectives of higher education and how government agencies, schools, and community-based agencies could help more Kosovar students enroll in and succeed in college.


Katherine G. McDaniel
Age: 21
Degree: B.S. in Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology, Yale College
Nominating Institution: Yale University
Field of Professional Interest: Global Health

Katherine McDaniel was born and raised in Bloomington, IN, the daughter of a biomedical engineer and a nurse-midwife. She grew up appreciating the power of both scientific innovations and patient-level efforts to improve human health, and hopes to incorporate both into a career as a physician focusing on global health. Katherine will graduate from Yale College in May with a B.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Her research, conducted both at Yale and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, seeks to inhibit bacterial group behavior and thus guide development of therapeutics less likely to provoke resistance as compared to standard antibiotics. In addition to her scientific pursuits, she has developed a keen interest in the health of disadvantaged populations, starting with her work as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients at Yale’s HAVEN Free Clinic. Her experience at HAVEN prompted her to join the Yale-Ecuador HIV Clinic Initiative (YEHCI), which allowed her to work in Ecuador for a summer doing global health research, HIV testing, and sexual health education. She later served as Outreach Director and Co-Executive Director of YEHCI, guiding its evolution into a new initiative - Student Partnerships for Global Health. Inspired by her experience in Ecuador and preparing other students for the same, she is now conducting survey- and interview-based research on how global health research experiences impact students and their host communities. The initial findings are being used to shape Yale’s pre-departure training for global health researchers and will inspire case studies about student global health ethics in Global Health 101, 3rd Edition. Katherine also works as a research assistant to Professor Richard Skolnik, the author of this textbook. In addition to providing academic insights, these experiences have fostered a delight in learning from other cultures. A Christian, she joined a Jewish, Hebrew and Israeli a cappella group her freshman year and has since embraced Jewish culture and become proficient in Hebrew. She has knit and shared patterns with knitters on five continents, played French horn with groups ranging from the Yale Concert Band to South African and Lithuanian street bands, and enjoyed Argentine tango lessons taught in Hebrew. As Katherine prepares for a medical career, she looks forward to continuing to learn from many places and people and uniting those perspectives for benefit of global health.


Kyle W. Niezgoda
Age: 21
Degree: B.S. in Environmental Science / B.A. in Mathematics, Emory University
Nominating Institution: Emory University
Field of Professional Interest: Climatology and Meteorology

Kyle hails from a small town just outside of Dover, Delaware. He is a recent graduate from Emory University in Atlanta, where he double majored in Environmental Science and Mathematics. During his time at Emory, he worked in a lab studying pollination ecology and honey bee declines. Kyle spent two summers doing ecological field research for his advisor at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory near Aspen, Colorado. At the RMBL, Kyle and his lab team experimentally removed a single pollinator species from a field site and then observed how the foraging behaviors of the remaining pollinator species changed. The lab team found that these changes in foraging behavior negatively effected the reproductive fitness of wildflowers pollinated by the bee species, reducing seed set by up to 30%. At Emory, he has carried out independent research studying the effects of El Niño/La Niña phenomena on the flowering phenology of plants from the RMBL and surrounding areas. He is currently involved in a research project trying to tease apart the details of new pollination network data that were gathered recently. While Kyle’s main research focus in school has been of bees and pollination, his career interests lie in the climatological and atmospheric sciences, stemming from a childhood spent almost entirely outdoors where an appreciation for nature flourished. He hopes to one day use his research experience and mathematical knowledge to enter the complex field of climate modeling and prediction to address important questions facing our planet, such as pollution control and management. Kyle is an avid percussionist of 11 years and a life-long music enthusiast. He enjoys crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay and spends most of his holiday time at home fishing on a family owned pond. He spends the majority of his time outside and will jump at the opportunity to take a long backpacking trip, go camping, or just take a short day hike. He also enjoys skiing, but opportunities are limited due the lack of mountainous topography in Delaware and Atlanta.


Andrew T. Peters
Age: 21
Degree: B.A. in Linguistics, Carlton College
M.D., Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University (expected 2017)
Nominating Institution: Northwestern University
Field of Professional Interest: Medicine and Neurolinguistics

Andrew Peters was born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota. A lifelong fascination with language, its content, and its structure drove his studies at nearby Carleton College, where he graduated summa cum laude in 2013 with a B.A. in linguistics, with distinction for his thesis project on mathematical models for Spanish phonology. He travelled to Kyoto for an all-too-brief trimester studying Japanese linguistics at Doshisha University in 2012. Andrew has a passion not just for linguistics but for language learning, having studied Latin, Spanish, and Japanese. He developed these pursuits alongside a long-held affinity for science and medicine, picking up hard-science classes at Carleton and immersing himself in HIV research for three summers at the Mayo Clinic. His work there and his experiences with Mayo physicians galvanized his desire for a medical career, and eventually his move to Chicago in fall 2013 to attend Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. He is particularly interested in speech disorders, as they represent an area where medicine and linguistics critically overlap, which he currently studies as a member of Northwestern's Aphasia and Neurolinguistics Research Laboratory. He hopes to seriously pursue and maintain this research interest, but views working with patients as the purpose and focus of his future career. Working with infectious disease physicians and their need for global and public-health competency have also influenced his perspective on medicine. Outside of classes, Andrew has found teaching and tutoring fulfilling; he worked as a Writing Center tutor throughout his Carleton career and currently volunteers at an after-school science program for middle schoolers in Humboldt Park, Chicago. He has always been a musician, playing piano and horn, and performing in orchestras in his hometown and at Carleton. Music - along with reading, writing, the outdoors, and of course time with family and friends - is what keeps him mindful, open, and inspired.


Will F. Poff-Webster
Age: 22
Degree: B.A. in History, Harvard College
Nominating Institution: Harvard University
Field of Professional Interest: Government Policy/ Education and Urban Policy

Will Poff-Webster grew up in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. He first encountered political activism at age 8 when he canvassed his neighbors with his mom to get their street repaved. As a junior in the Boston Public Schools, he started a community organizing effort with students across neighborhood and race lines to restore budget cuts to public education. He joined the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC), advocating for education reform in the Boston Teachers Union contract alongside business, community, faith, and parent groups. As an alumni staff member at BSAC he helped lead the campaign that made student feedback a component of teacher evaluations across Massachusetts. As a student at Harvard College graduating in 2014, Will majors in History with a smattering of classes in Government, Spanish, Sociology, and International Relations. He is writing his senior thesis on the political impact of gang violence in the Roman Republic, exploring how urban class conflict interacted with political revolution in the first century BC that has relevance for unstable and developing countries today. Will’s experience outside the classroom has been equally meaningful; this year, as President of the College Democrats of Massachusetts, he has advocated for greater youth input on issues like public transit, tuition affordability, housing, campus sexual assault policies, the minimum wage, and modernized voter registration. He moderated a youth forum with the Boston Mayoral candidates and brought more public college chapters into the College Democrats. During his summers, Will has taught environmental justice to at-risk teens at a Boston youth program, interned on education policy with Boston Mayor Tom Menino, campaigned for Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and worked for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Office of CitiStat on data analytics. He is passionate about the intersection of local government and data-driven policy analysis that can lead to better outcomes in everything from education to road maintenance to gang violence reduction. He believes data collection must be responsive to the experiences of constituents, and has combined data with his passion for education reform by co-founding the Boston Student Union, an organization of Boston Public Schools students and college mentors that surveys students on issues that matter to them and advocates for student-centered educational improvement and equity between schools. In his free time, Will teaches American Civics to 5th graders in South Boston, reads about science fiction and foreign policy, and performs in a Harvard improvisational comedy troupe.


Kevin E. Schell
Age: 24
Degree: B.S.M.E. in Mechanical Engineering, Rice University
Nominating Institution: Rice University
Field of Professional Interest: Energy & Utilities

Kevin Schell currently works within the Finance group of the Helmsley Charitable Trust as the foundation’s Management Reporting Associate where he has worked on developing systems and metrics to help improve the Trust’s ability to effectively support its programs. Kevin graduated from Rice University in 2011 with a degree in mechanical engineering. While at Rice, Kevin spent much of his time outside of the classroom in the pool with the men’s water polo team, helping to coordinate committees at his residential college (Brown), and volunteering in Rice’s admissions office. Kevin also looked for every opportunity to demonstrate his enthusiasm for his school and regularly painted up for the Owls’ home football games. After graduating from Rice, Kevin joined McKinsey & Company’s Houston Office as a business analyst where he primarily worked with energy and industrial clients. During his time at McKinsey, Kevin was involved with recruiting and training new classes of business analysts. In his free time, Kevin likes cooking, running, and listening to classic rock. He is also an avid fan of light British automobiles and mediocre professional sports teams. Kevin misses Texas BBQ and pecan pie, but has developed a love for bagel sandwiches since moving to New York.


Katherine M. Schuler
Age: 29
Degree: B.F.A. in Fine Art, Corcoran College of Art and Design
Nominating Institution: George Washington University
Field of Professional Interest: Wildlife Conservation and Science Education through Art and Storytelling

Katie Schuler works at the intersection of art, entrepreneurship, community development and stewardship of the natural world. As a photographer and videographer, Katie has traveled to over fifteen countries across six continents documenting wildlife and their habitats. As an artist and producer, she has led outreach efforts to vulnerable communities and undereducated youth, both at home and abroad. Katie’s clients rank among the most recognizable in environmental education including National Geographic, The Smithsonian Institute, Conservation International, Woods Hole Oceanographic and PBS. Katie is a graduate of the Corcoran College of Art and Design, and a recipient of the prestigious Koenig Trust Scholarship. Katie embraces a collaborative, holistic approach to solving problems of sustainability and environmental awareness, and believes that visual storytelling can be a transformative experience that changes hearts and minds for the better. Katie currently resides in Washington, DC and is a proud native of Palm Harbor, Florida.


Audrey C. Stienon
Age: 21
Degree: B.A. in Political Science and Economy, Hunter College
Nominating Institution: Hunter College
Field of Professional Interest: International Political Economy and Development

Audrey Stienon is a native New Yorker who grew up in a Belgian-American household. Her yearly visits to family in Europe sparked her fascination with understanding the world at large, and prompted her to study international relations in college. She has pursued study-abroad opportunities in diverse settings, including China, Crete, Argentina, Russia, Ecuador and Costa Rica. In 2014, Audrey will graduate from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College with a double major in Political Science and Economics, and with a minor in Public Policy. She joined the Hunter College Model United Nations Team in 2011, and after her first semester, became the teacher’s assistant of the requisite course for all team members, and Head Delegate of the team during all competitions. Having grown up with a younger sister who has Rett Syndrome, a severe developmental disorder, Audrey has long been involved in local awareness campaigns for Rett Syndrome and is interested in understanding the differences between individuals and groups in order to learn how best to respect them and accommodate their needs. More recently, she brought that experience to her academic work. In the summer of 2013, Audrey worked as an intern at the International Disability Alliance, a disability-rights advocacy organization at the UN, and recently completed a public policy capstone thesis analyzing the ways in which New York State long-term care policies could be used to promote social integration for people with disabilities. While much of her work thus far has centered around the promotion of rights for people with disabilities, Audrey hopes to expand on the lessons she learned about the barriers facing this group, and pursue a career in which she can promote the integration into society of a range of traditionally marginalized groups around the world.


Meaghan C. Tobin
Age: 25
Degrees: B.S. in Food Studies, Nutrition and Public Health, New York University;
A.S. in Bakery and Pastry Arts, Johnson & Wales University
Nominating Institution: New York University
Field of Professional Interest: International Agriculture, Trade & Development

Meaghan Tobin is a Fellow at Meridian Institute, where she supports mediation and consensus-building processes around complex social and political issues with national and global implications. Meaghan provides support for policy dialogues, negotiations, and strategy development projects focused on food and health, agricultural development, natural resource management, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. At Meridian, Meaghan has helped to develop policy recommendations for local, state, and national policymakers to increase access to nutritious foods; assisted the U.S. government and ministries of foreign governments in evaluating results-based payment systems that reduce deforestation and environmental degradation in developing countries; and supported multi-stakeholder dialogues to inform the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiation process. Meaghan has also provided strategic support for projects targeting reduced emissions from oil consumption and production in North America, and contributed to the continued development of the Meridian Fellowship program. Meaghan graduated in 2012 from New York University, where she studied food studies, nutrition, and public health. She also took courses in economics and international politics, and her academic work focused on understanding the relationship between political and economic forces and the global food and agriculture system. During her time at NYU, Meaghan conducted research on open campus spaces to investigate the potential of developing innovative urban agriculture systems. She held a number of intern positions at regional agricultural development organizations, and served as President of Slow Food NYU. Prior to attending NYU, Meaghan graduated summa cum laude in 2010 with a degree in Baking & Pastry Arts from Johnson & Wales University. As part of her studies, Meaghan spent several months living in Ireland and working as a pastry chef at a resort hotel. She has also been an artisan bread baker and worked on farms in Massachusetts and New York's Hudson Valley. Meaghan grew up in New England and is an accomplished figure skater. She has an abiding love for languages and linguistic anthropology, and has studied Spanish, French, Arabic, Irish, and Mandarin Chinese.




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