Spring 2013 Fellows
Award to support work toward an MD and a Ph.D. in immunobiology
Parwiz was born in Afghanistan to a family of Hazaras, a Shi‘ite Muslim group traditionally marginalized in Afghan society. When he was only three, his family fled into northwestern Pakistan. A year later, Parwiz’s father was granted political asylum and the family moved to Auburn, Washington.
At the University of Washington, Parwiz earned his BS in bioengineering and developed a keen interest in medicine. The following year he did laboratory research at the National Institute on Aging. He is a co-author of several papers published in scientific journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Returning to Kabul for a year of teaching at the American University of Afghanistan and Marefat High School, Parwiz and the school principal played prominent roles in opposing a law that, though it granted long-sought recognition to Shi‘ites, appeased conservative lawmakers by trampling women’s rights.
Parwiz is now pursuing an MD and a Ph.D. in immunobiology at Yale. His doctoral research, in the Jordan Pober lab, focuses on the role of vascular cells in the immunological rejection of transplanted organs. He plans a research career in transplant medicine.Top
Award to support work toward an MD and a Ph.D. in systems biology
Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, to engineers of Palestinian and Jordanian descent, Omar grew up with strong commitments to science, engineering, and Islam. In high school he won a regional Intel Science and Engineering Fair and 4th place at the international level.
Omar went on to MIT where he was a Henry Ford and a Goldwater Scholar. He earned a perfect 5.0 GPA as a mechanical and bio-engineering major, was editor-in-chief of the MIT Undergraduate Research Journal and co-president of the MIT Bioengineering Society.
Following his freshman year at MIT, Omar worked with an NIH research team on the design of a vaccine based on engineered nanoparticles. In subsequent nanoparticle research he helped design sensitive tests for cancer and liver fibrosis, which led to co-authorship of a paper in Nature Biotechnology and presentations at scientific conferences.
Omar was extensively involved in the development of TIMtalks, a forum for MIT undergraduates that addresses personal setbacks. He also worked at Flagship Ventures on developing an early stage company leveraging the human microbiome for new therapies.
Omar is a candidate for MD and Ph.D. degrees in the Harvard/MIT MD/Ph.D program. His research focuses on cell signaling network models that will yield new biological insights and better therapies.Top
Award to support a MM degree in early music
Ryaan was born in the UK to physicians from Bangladesh. They immigrated to the United States when he was seven. Throughout high school he was drawn to music: he studied classical guitar, played in rock and jazz bands, and sang in choirs.
When Ryaan went on to Harvard he intended to pursue a degree in neurobiology and then a career in medicine. As a freshman, however, he discovered the lute and was soon playing in an opera pit and a baroque orchestra.
During a three semester break from Harvard, Ryaan worked as a lab technician and a freelance musician. This experience cemented his intention to pursue a career in music. Upon returning to Harvard, he directed the Harvard Early Music Society, a baroque opera company, and the Harvard Chamber Singers, a choir for Renaissance music.
As a digital musicologist, Ryaan has applied machine translation techniques to decode early musical notation, and has used statistical methods to analyze Monteverdi’s madrigals.
A student of Douglas Freundich and Patrick O’Brian, Ryaan will continue his studies with Paul O’Dette as part of his study for an MM degree in early music at the Eastman School of Music.Top
Award to support work toward a JD and an MBA
The son of Indian immigrants, Amar was raised in Washington, D.C. His visits as a teenager led him to found a nonprofit that enriches education in under-resourced schools by linking them to local artisans.
At Harvard, Amar earned a bachelor's degree in social studies and visual & environmental studies, magna cum laude. A Truman Scholar, he conducted interviews on the local media in Zimbabwe for his honor's thesis. As he was leaving the country, he was jailed on charges of stealing government secrets. Choosing to fight the charges rather than pay a bribe, however, he won his freedom.
After graduation Amar edited a web site at the Washington Post, and then traveled to a dozen countries for a series of texts and videos documenting "How the World Sees America." After serving as special assistant to the US Ambassador to the UN, he returned to journalism as a "world producer" for CNN and managing editor of the web site CNN.com/GPS.
Amar has finished course work for an MA in international relations and economics from Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies and is now pursuing a JD at Yale Law School.Top
For support of work toward a Ph.D. in history
Nishant was born in California to parents who immigrated to the U.S. from the Indian state of Bihar in the late 1970s.
As an undergraduate at Columbia, Nishant initially planned to follow a pre-med curriculum. A history course, however, unexpectedly generated a passion for the study of the past. He served on the editorial board of the Columbia Undergraduate Journal of History, and founded and edited the Columbia Undergraduate Journal of South Asian Studies. He graduated from Columbia magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in history and in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies.
The following year Nishant won competitive scholarships to attend the University of Oxford, where he earned a master’s degree in global and imperial history. As his commitment to history grew, he was also being drawn to creative writing. His first non-fiction piece, “Existential Googling,” was listed in the “best tech writing of 2011” and his first short piece of fiction was published in 2013. He is now exploring lives and experiences in the South Asian diaspora, both as a writer working on his first novel and as a research scholar pursuing a Ph.D. in history at Columbia.Top
Award for continuing work toward a JD
Eva was born in Mexico, arrived in the United States as a one-year-old, and spent her childhood shuttling between Mexico City and Pittsburgh. Her mother is from Mexico and her father’s Sephardic Jewish family was forced to flee from Chile for political reasons.
Eva pursued this personal theme of migration and refugee status in her studies as an undergraduate at Yale and now as a JD student at Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. candidate in international history, also at Harvard. Fluent in French, Spanish and English, she also reads Arabic and is conversational in German. She is writing her dissertation on how the lives of migrants were affected by social and legal changes in 20th century North Africa.
Not content to study history, human rights, and international law from a distance, Eva helps prepare asylum cases at Greater Boston Legal Services and directs the training team of the Harvard Immigration Project. She interned with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project in New York during the summer of 2012, and intends to be with the Human Rights and Special Prosecution Section of the Department of Justice during the summer of 2013. She hopes to combine legal services, litigation, policy work, and teaching in her future career.Top
Award to support work towards a Ph.D. in economics
Valentin was born to Jewish parents in Ukraine who opted for refugee status in the United States when Valentin was eight. A lackluster student in Ukraine, he was determined not to let his family’s sacrifices go to waste. Hard work led to academic success and an internship with Congressman Tom Lantos.
Valentin won admission to Stanford, where he chaired the university’s most prominent political organization, Stanford in Government. Following his graduation in 2011, he became a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board’s Office of Financial Stability.
When his family was caught in the economic crisis of 2008, Valentin’s budding interest in economic analysis became his scholarly passion. His award-winning honors thesis for his BA in economics explored the role of federal affordable housing goals in the growth of the subprime mortgage market. Praised as “One of the most outstanding, original and creative undergraduate honors theses in the recent history of Stanford,” it led to presentations at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Federal Reserve Board and to a forthcoming publication in Real Estate Economics.
Valentin will begin work toward a Ph.D. in economics at Harvard in the fall of 2013.Top
LEDA DeROSA BLOOMFIELD
Award to support work toward a master’s degree in urban planning
Leda calls herself one of Korea’s “lost children.” Born in Korea, she was adopted by an American couple and grew up in a majority Latino and African-American communities in Connecticut. She reflects on the triple bind of her growing up: foreigner in her home country, her adopted country and within her own family, from which she was estranged as a teen. Her keen desire to work in underserved communities is a product of her complex immigrant and minority identities.
Leda made her way, however, to Barnard College where, with scholarships and part-time jobs, she graduated magna cum laude.
Leda subsequently worked as a corporate legal assistant for a major New York-based international law firm and as Associate Director of an African-American think tank affiliated with Columbia Law School.
Leda is pursuing a master’s degree in urban planning at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service. She is a member of the Executive Board of the Urban Planning student association. At the same time she works as a paralegal at a civil rights law firm, where she is a Spanish translator and helps to represent victims of housing discrimination.Top
SANGU JULIUS DELLE
Award to support work toward a JD and an MBA
Born in Ghana, Sangu’s childhood home was a refuge for victims of torture and violence from neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. Academically gifted, he chafed in Ghanaian schools, and his search for an alternative in America led to a full scholarship from the Peddie School in New Jersey.
Sangu went on to Harvard, where he was inspired to pursue social and economic entrepreneurship. Enrolling in a program that bridged the academic study and practical service gap, he co-founded the African Development Initiative, which embarked on a five-year project to bring sanitation and clean water to a poor Ghanaian village. He graduated with highest honors in African and African-American studies and a minor in economics.
Sangu worked at Morgan Stanley and Valiant Capital Partners. Convinced that the real needs of poor communities – whether in the US or Africa -- can best be met through entrepreneurship, in 2008 he founded a venture capital firm to fund promising start-ups that can have social impact and generate jobs.
Sangu will begin study towards JD and MBA degrees at Harvard in the fall of 2013 and hopes to promote social and economic development in vulnerable communities.Top
Award to support work toward an MD and a Ph.D. in neuroscience
Senan is the son of a Pakistan-born father and a Syrian-born mother who first came to the U.S. as students and eventually settled in Silicon Valley. In secondary school he won recognition as an Intel Science Talent Search semi-finalist and a Presidential Scholar.
As a Harvard undergraduate, Senan originally planned to concentrate in chemistry and physics, but he discovered a new passion for the study of developmental neurobiology as a research intern in the neuroscience lab of Dr. Jeffrey Macklis. He graduated with a degree in neurobiology.
Beginning in his freshman year Senan also became active in student government. As a junior he was elected president of the Harvard College student body. He has also shown a serious interest in how the practice of medicine varies with culture. He was a student observer of medical practices in Honduras and China, and, following graduation, conducted independent research on Andean ethnomedicine in Peru under a Trustman Fellowship.
Senan plans graduate study in the joint MD/Ph.D. program at Harvard/MIT, which he hopes will lead to a career as a research clinician who can contribute to the treatment of patients with neurodegenerative disease.Top
Award to support work toward an MD and a Ph.D. in infectious disease epidemiology
Mariam was born in Paris of Ivorian parents. After returning to Côte d’Ivoire, her family began an odyssey of emigration that took them to Kenya for three years before they settled in Minnesota when Mariam was 13.
Mariam gained admission to Harvard, where, intending to become a research biologist, she earned an undergraduate degree in biology, cum laude. Her love of music, however, set her on a different academic path. She joined the Kuumba Singers, whose performances in the tradition of African-American spirituals and gospel music brought together people of all faiths and ethnicities. She helped lead the choir’s fundraising efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Kuumba, in turn, led her to refocus her interests on public health, especially in Africa.
Mariam served as a research assistant on a team at Massachusetts General Hospital that investigated the cost-effectiveness of HIV interventions and treatment scale-up in South Africa. She then spent a year in Côte d’Ivoire, investigating the ethical implications of parental consent for HIV testing.
Mariam is now pursuing both MD and Ph.D. degrees at Johns Hopkins. Her doctorate will be in infectious disease epidemiology.Top
BESS IBTISAM HANISH
Award to support work toward a JD
Bess and her five siblings were raised in a highly insular community of Yemeni Muslims in Bakersfield, California. In keeping with Yemeni traditions, her parents took her out of school in the sixth grade. After three years at home, she persuaded them to let her go back to school for high school. She excelled academically. After being kept at home for three more years, she left to pursue her education.
Bess supported herself through an associate degree in political science at Orange Coast College (OCC), where she won awards for distinction in leadership and academics. She then continued on to Amherst College, where she is a senior, majoring in political science and anthropology. She is a Truman scholar, has received awards for summer study of Arabic in the Middle East, and has been a peer counselor and member of student government at both OCC and Amherst.
Bess has interned with a California congressman, at the White House, and at the State Department, where she helped plan for the visit of Jordan's King Abdullah.
Bess plans to pursue a law degree at University of California Berkeley in order to promote legal protections and rights for Arab women who are living in insular communities in the United States.Top
Award to support work toward an MD
Sejal grew up in the Bay Area as the child of parents of Indian origin from Uganda and Tanzania. In coping with illness as a youth she found resonance in the needs of other girls facing gender inequality issues. The resulting insights led her, at age 15, to start a nonprofit, Girls Helping Girls. Subsequently she and a colleague founded “girltank.” These organizations train and mobilize young women to create sustainable social change. The response has been astonishing: the two organizations have grown into a global movement that now reaches more than 30,000 young women in more than 100 countries.
Sejal has spoken about women’s rights and empowerment at TEDWomen, TEDxTeen and the United Nations. She has won national awards from Newsweek (150 Women who Shake the World), Forbes Magazine (30 under 30 honorees), the National Jefferson Awards for Public Service and many other outlets.
Sejal attends Yale University as a Global Health Fellow. A U.S. Presidential Scholar and a Truman Scholar, she will graduate in spring 2013 with a BS in molecular biology. She plans to earn her MD at Stanford Medical School and then to work at the nexus of medical entrepreneurship, international women’s health, and social innovation.Top
Award to support work toward an MD and a Ph.D. in developmental neurobiology
Cynthia was born in China. Her parents and grandparents had been sent to rural farms for “re-education” during the Cultural Revolution. She and her family moved to California soon after she was born. In high school she was recognized as one of 141 US Presidential Scholars for 2006.
As a sophomore at Stanford, Cynthia began working in a neonatology lab studying potential therapies for neonatal jaundice. The work led to the Firestone Medal, Stanford’s highest honor for undergraduate research, as well as to first authorship of a paper published in the journal Pediatric Research. She graduated in 2010 in biology with honors in neurobiology and a minor in music.
Cynthia is also a talented pianist. She was a soloist with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and was awarded one of Stanford’s major prizes for piano performance.
Following a post-baccalaureate year of continued neonatology research, Cynthia entered the UCLA-Caltech Medical Scientist Training Program. She is pursuing an MD and a Ph.D. in neuroscience, investigating how the brain develops in an inherited form of autism. She plans on clinical specialization in neonatology or child neurology.Top
JAMES (ZHE) HUI
Award to support work toward an MD and a Ph.D. in bioengineering
Born in northwest China, James grew up in a family that was uprooted by China’s Cultural Revolution. When he was 12, the family immigrated to Los Angeles. With the encouragement of inspiring teachers in his inner-city high school, he overcame gang fights and the school’s abysmal graduation rates.
Admitted to UCLA, James embarked on a pre-med program in “wet lab” biology. He did research with nanoparticles that combined his interests in medicine, physical science, engineering and computing.
Following his graduation with a BS in biochemistry, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, James entered the joint MD and Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is now in his fourth year.
James has co-authored a patent submission and more than seven published scientific papers, including an invited review in Science. He has designed a widely used physiological signal processing program and leads a team that recently won prizes in national robotics and programming competitions. His Ph.D. dissertation focuses on designing nanoparticles that bind to immune-system cells, thereby both delivering medicines to the cells and rendering the cells visible to MRI.Top
DANA (DA EUN) IM
Award for work toward an MD and a master’s degree in public policy
Born in Korea, Dana came to the United States at age eleven with her parents, who ran a retail store in Los Angeles. Her commitment to advocacy and medicine was sparked by her family’s struggles to obtain healthcare as non-permanent residents.
Dana attended Wellesley College where she majored in neuroscience with a minor in women’s studies and graduated summa cum laude. While in college, she worked in rural Guatemala, where she developed a passion for providing primary medical care for underserved communities and organized a program to train teenage girls as community health workers. Back in Massachusetts, she worked with the YWCA to start a student-faculty clinic that provides medical, mental health, and social needs screenings. She also worked with Partners in Health to expand a cervical cancer screening program in rural Guatemala.
Dana received a master’s degree in public health at the University of Cambridge and then entered Harvard Medical School in 2011. In addition to her medical degree, she plans to pursue a master’s degree at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she will focus on how best to address problems of health and social inequalities.Top
Award to support work towards a JD
Leslie-Bernard was born in Brooklyn to Haitian immigrants and raised by his mother and two aunts. The family’s precarious economic circumstances worsened when a new landlord smashed the front door of their rental apartment in Queens in an attempt to evict them. They subsequently moved into two small bedrooms of an uncle’s house in Newark.
Leslie-Bernard nevertheless excelled in school and won the support of New York’s Prep for Prep program to attend Deerfield Academy. In 2002 he was accepted as an undergraduate by Princeton University, and he rose to become president of the Black Student Union and, by his junior year, president of the undergraduate student government. He earned an A.B. (bachelor’s degree) in politics, with a certificate in African-American Studies.
Following graduation, Leslie-Bernard spent six years as a teacher and teacher-development professional with Teach for America. The New York Times Magazine featured him in an article entitled “Why Teach for America?” He also served as founding dean of students for Coney Island Prep, a new charter school in New York.
Leslie-Bernard entered the JD program at Stanford Law School in the Fall of 2012.Top
DAYAN “JACK” LI
Award for support of work toward an MD and a Ph.D. in biology
Jack was born in Changsha, China. As a six-year-old he moved with his parents to Brazil, where his father conducted plant pathology research at an experimental fruit farm. Five years later, Jack was transplanted to the U.S., where he grafted his hybrid Chinese-Brazilian background onto American culture.
During high school in Maryland, he won the top prize at the 2007 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for research in cancer biology at the National Institutes of Health. He was also a National Merit Scholar.
As an undergraduate at Harvard, Jack majored in molecular and cellular biology. A Goldwater Scholar, he studied how cells sense extracellular signals during embryo development. He cofounded an organization to connect Boston area high school students to laboratory research opportunities and helped write Success with Science: The Winners’ Guide to High School Research. He also served as President of the Harvard chapter of The Triple Helix, an undergraduate global forum for science in society and Co-President and violinist in the Harvard Pops Orchestra.
Jack is currently pursuing both an MD and a Ph.D. in the Harvard/MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program.Top
Award to support work toward a Ph.D. in sociology
Born in New York City to a prominent rabbinical family, Matty grew up in a tight-knit Hassidic community in Brooklyn. Her Israeli-born parents, both children of Holocaust survivors, raised her with a profound awareness of their community’s history. Inspired to attend college by the books she devoured from childhood, she was the sole student in her class to take the SAT.
Matty attended Touro College in New York City, where she majored in English and communications and graduated summa cum laude. She subsequently completed two master’s degrees, one in English, magna cum laude, from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the other in Jewish philosophy from Yeshiva University in New York, while remaining deeply involved in Jewish adult education.
During her graduate studies, Matty began working for an educational non-profit, Project Witness, as the executive editor of a textbook on the history of the Holocaust. That experience helped lead her to enroll in the doctoral program in sociology at UC Berkeley, where she is exploring how individuals -- particularly those whose religious practices and beliefs conflict with those of the American mainstream -- can negotiate their legal, social and religious identities in a secular society.Top
Award to support work toward a JD
Kuong was born in a refugee camp in Vietnam to parents who had fled the Cambodian killing fields. They were granted political asylum and relocated to the greater Boston area in the winter of 1990. He focused his energy on succeeding in school while working to support his family.
Kuong enrolled in Boston College, where he won a Truman Scholarship, was selected to the All-USA College Academic First Team, and graduated with a BA in philosophy and minors in studio art and faith, peace and justice studies. He worked at the International Co-Prosecutor’s Office at the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunals as an Arthur Helton Fellow. His 2010 op-ed piece in the International Herald Tribune urged the court to stiffen the sentence of a senior Khmer Rouge leader, an action that it subsequently took.
Winning a British Marshall Scholarship, Kuong earned master’s degrees from the University of Essex (in international human rights law) and the University of Cambridge (in international relations).
Kuong entered the JD program at UCLA School of Law, where he is part of the Programs in Public Interest Law and Policy and Critical Race Studies.Top
Award to support work toward an MD and a Ph.D. in anthropology
Born in India, Amrapali spent part of her childhood in New Zealand before the family settled in Texas when she was ten. The narrative of her grandfather's migration during the Partition of South Asia inspired her to pursue studies of history and literature.
At Harvard, Amrapali won the Oliver Dabney Prize for her junior essay on the literature that emerged during Sri Lanka's civil war. A summer volunteering as an HIV/AIDS educator in Tanzania made her aware of how strongly stigma, domestic violence and other social variables affect the experience of illness. Returning to Harvard, she led a student-run peer counseling group and wrote her senior thesis on representations of madness in Indian literature, for which she was awarded highest honors. An accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, she also directed Harvard’s South Asian Dance Company.
As a medical student at Stanford, Amrapali served as a manager of a student-run free clinic and conducted research on attitudes toward domestic violence in Bangladesh. This research stimulated her interest in addressing health care disparities, especially as they affect women who suffer from violence-related trauma. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology as well as an MD.Top
Award to support work toward a master’s degree in public policy
The son of Rwandan farmers, Etienne was only seven when he and his family were caught in the Rwandan genocide. He lost more than 20 relatives – including a grandfather, three uncles, and a cousin – to the violence. Much later, he was able to study for four years in Kenya as the result of a chance encounter with an aid worker.
Etienne returned to Rwanda as an advocate for HIV/AIDS testing, and went on to become part of a trauma-counseling team in northern Uganda. Working there as a translator for an American couple opened the way for him to attend North Central College (NCC) in Naperville, Illinois. He will graduate from NCC in May 2012, with a BA in political science and a minor in economics.
At NCC Etienne co-founded Ubuntu in Action, a nonprofit that builds and staffs schools in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“Ubuntu” is an ancient African philosophy that stresses the inner goodness of humanity). In 2010 he returned to Uganda to conduct a systematic study of Rwandan refugees who witnessed genocide first-hand.
Etienne will pursue a master’s degree in African Studies at Yale, beginning in the fall of 2013.Top
Award to support work towards an MD
Wilfredo was born in the Dominican Republic but moved with his family to New York when he was three. His father, a trained engineer, moved the family around the New York area before accepting work as a building superintendent and settling in the Bronx.
As an undergraduate at New York University, Wilfredo majored in both biology and romance languages and graduated summa cum laude. He also helped organize the university’s first medical mission to Honduras.
After graduation he spent a year on a Fulbright Fellowship at a lab at Imperial College, London, where he studied the reproductive biology of the malaria mosquito.
Beginning full-time study for an MD the next year at Harvard Medical School, Wilfredo did research on development of an enhanced cholera vaccine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The following summer he traveled to Haiti with Partners in Health to promote a cholera vaccine program during the worst cholera epidemic in recent history. After completing his third year of medical school, Wilfredo hopes to enroll in a new Harvard master’s program in global health delivery. He envisions a career in global health with a focus on infectious disease.Top
Award to support an MFA in film
Lilian is a filmmaker whose sense of humor and poetry stems from her star-crossed cultures. Born in the U.S. to a Kurdish-Iranian Muslim mother and a Hungarian-German Jewish father, she was raised on stories of her father’s German childhood as a son of Holocaust survivors and her mother’s exile as the daughter of Kurdish tribal leaders.
Lilian attended Dartmouth and graduated as a Senior Fellow. Reflecting her cinematic sense of visual storytelling, she authored a 226-page illustrated family memoir for which she was awarded High Honors.
As an intern at the Foreign Service Institute, Lilian created a foreign film series for diplomats headed to the Middle East. At the Kathryn Davis Project for Peace she led documentary film workshops that encouraged Israeli and Palestinian teenagers to hear one another’s stories. The latter experience inspired her to create YALA Peace, a female leadership after-school program at the Arab and Jewish Community Center in Jaffa, Israel.
As an MFA candidate at NYU’s Graduate Film program, Lilian has written, directed, edited and produced four short films. They have won her a Maurice Kanbar award and a nomination for a Kodak award.Top
Award to support work toward an MD
Born in the African nation of Togo, Samsiya immigrated to the United States when she was eighteen years old. She and her three siblings joined their father, who was living in the South Bronx. She barely knew English, though was fluent in French, Ewe and Kotokoli.
After an intensive period of English acquisition, however, Samsiya was admitted to Lehman College of the City University of New York, where she graduated summa cum laude with a double major in biology and anthropology/biology/chemistry. Overcoming many challenges, she thrived and won awards to conduct environmental health research in Colombia and urology and neuroscience research in The Netherlands.
Samsiya’s determination to become a physician has been influenced by her childhood in Togo, hospital visits when her father needed health care in New York City, and recent health research in Zambia.
Samsiya is now in her second year at Harvard Medical School, where she is co-president of the Women of Color in Medicine and Dentistry. She plans to pursue internal medicine and hopes to work in communities where more primary care physicians are sorely needed.Top
Award to support work towards an MA and a Ph.D. in robotics
Wennie was born in France to a French mother and a father of Syrian heritage; the family immigrated to the U.S. when Wennie was four. She endured a difficult childhood that left her struggling to find self-acceptance and confidence in her abilities.
Seeking refuge in her studies, however, Wennie gained admission to Carnegie Mellon University where, in her sophomore year, she found a faculty mentor whose belief in her abilities was life-changing. She gained the confidence to lead a team that autonomously navigated a robot in GPS-denied environments.
Now a master’s degree student at Carnegie Mellon, Wennie is researching the acceleration of computer vision algorithms for autonomous navigation in space. Her approach uses Field Programmable Gate Arrays, which are very fast computing devices that achieve orders of magnitude speedup over traditional computing on CPUs. She is leading a team of engineers to develop algorithms to autonomously navigate a lunar lander and robot.
Wennie plans to continue on to pursue a Ph.D. in robotics at Carnegie Mellon, with the goal of becoming a university professor and building robots that explore space.Top
Award to support work toward an MFA in creative writing
Steven was born in California, the son of Filipino immigrants. As an adolescent, he feared that being gay would bring shame to his family, so he threw himself into becoming “the stereotype of the Asian overachiever: National Merit Scholar, newspaper editor, literary magazine editor in chief.”
As a Stanford undergraduate Steven produced narrative short films that won screenings at numerous film festivals. He was the first male undergraduate to enroll in the honors program in feminist studies at Stanford, where he wrote his first novel, a revision of the superhero origin story. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology.
Since graduation, Steven has continued to make documentary films such as “Trent Loves Greg,” “Street Kid Book Factory,” about teenagers who scavenge cardboard for a publisher in Buenos Aires, and “Shopping for a Candidate,” part of Current TV’s coverage of the 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary. He is also the author of an award-winning screenplay, published poems and short stories, audio essays, one-act plays, and commentaries on trends in digital publishing.
Steven will enter the MFA program for poets and writers at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst in the fall of 2013.Top
Award to support work towards a master’s degree in city planning
Born in Surabaya, Indonesia to parents of Chinese heritage, Giovania came to the United States when she was ten. In Pittsburgh her family struggled as new immigrants, but she focused on seizing unrealized opportunities.
Giovania made her way to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where she is currently a senior, majoring in sociology and tapped for membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
At Dickinson, Giovania has become an environmental coordinator, community organizer, and student leader. She helped create and now directs the Dickinson Idea Fund, a student-run revolving loan program that incubates innovative community projects. William Durden, Dickinson’s President, calls her as “a gracious, focused young person who lives with a passion for change in democracy and does so with a rare blend of knowledge, personality and humanity.”
Giovania has studied urban planning and sustainability in Brazil; racial politics and food justice in Harrisburg, PA; and the impact of fracking in Bradford County, PA.Her goal is to “increase education, engagement and collaboration between citizen, public, and private sectors.” She will pursue an M.S. degree in city and regional planning at Pratt Institute.Top
Award to support work toward an MBA
Chinese by heritage and Californian by birth, Dennis combines the artistic engagement of his father, a poet at heart, with the nurturing disposition of his mother, a nurse.
Dennis earned his BFA, with honors in theatre, at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Following his graduation he formed a theatre company to produce his own adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull. Between2003 and 2009 the company went on to produce 10 full-length plays—and gain enough visibility to garner glowing reviews in The New Yorker and The New York Times.
While still running the theatre Dennis joined the staff of New York Cares, a major volunteer management organization. Within a year he rose to become its corporate service officer. Working in partnership with major companies, he was in charge of planning and executing service projects—providing meals, tutoring children, and cleaning up public parks and schools. He subsequently moved on to become an executive director at CCS Fundraising, where he shared his fundraising expertise as a consultant to other nonprofits.
Dennis is now working toward his MBA at the Yale School of Management. He hopes to form a benefit corporation devoted to the arts.Top
Award to support work toward a JD and an MBA
Vivek was born in Brooklyn to parents of Indian descent. His parents supported his childhood passion for history through family visits to 12 presidential libraries.
Admitted to Harvard, he excelled as a writer and historian. He served as managing editor of the Harvard Political Review and was awarded highest honors by the history department for his thesis on Elliot Richardson’s role in negotiating the Law of the Sea Treaty.
Following graduation from Harvard, Vivek earned a master’s degree (MPhil) in historical studies as a Henry Fellow at the University of Cambridge. He wrote his dissertation on Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s historical interpretations of the Kennedy legacy in American politics.
Vivek is also an accomplished endurance athlete. He recently finished an Ironman triathlon—a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run—in less than 14 hours.
Inspired by Richardson’s brilliant career combining law with public administration, Vivek is pursuing joint JD and MBA degrees at Stanford. He plans a career as a policymaker and hopes to serve as well as an elected public official.Top