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New Tisch Scholars: 2020-2021

We are excited to welcome 22 students into the Tisch Scholars program, which brings together Tufts undergraduates who are passionate about engaging in civic life and addressing problems in our communities. These students will now take the foundational course that provides a strong academic foundation for their work before they undertake service, advocacy, leadership, or research projects to address community-identified needs in Tufts' host communities.

The new Tisch Scholars in the 2020-2021 academic year are:

Siwaar Abouhala

Siwaar Abouhala

Raised in a Syrian household in New York, Siwaar has often juggled multiple identities and confronted intersectional issues in the health equity realm. It quickly became clear to Siwaar that most of the research and work she wants to do simply does not happen in a laboratory; she wants to understand topics such as why institutions support the patriarchy; how the needs of immigrant communities can be met in the United States; and how political, societal, and medical stress impacts the health of women of color. She has been exploring the healthcare field this past year through working with Memora Health, an SMS-based healthcare information company, as a Medical Research Intern. She has incorporated creativity and critical thinking into the questions she composes, researches, and tests. After forming over 700 questions for the postpartum, throat cancer, and lung cancer programs, she has grown more empathetic. "How can I get my child’s father involved in my child’s life?" remains one of her favorite questions that she has worked on because it blends together healthcare and real life. Siwaar plans on studying Arabic and community health on the pre-medicine track and working in underserved communities to better understand and further women and girls’ reproductive healthcare rights.

Marvin Agyen

Marvin Agyen

Marvin is a rising sophomore from the Bronx interested in pursuing social good in the tech sector. After receiving support from numerous nonprofit workers who've dedicated their careers to helping people like him achieve their dreams, he now realizes the importance of giving back to your community. Ever since high school, he has worked to address issues related to educational inequity in NYC high schools related to high school segregation and opportunities for STEM education. Marvin hopes to develop his definition of civic life and inspire others to pursue civic engagement as a Tisch Scholar.

Ibrahim AlMuasher

Ibrahim AlMuasher

Ibrahim is from Amman, Jordan, and is hoping to major in Economics and Civic Studies. In high school, Ibrahim co-founded a group called Zaman aimed at increasing civic engagement and providing a platform for activists to pursue their projects and ideas. Through Zaman, Ibrahim helped found his school’s peer tutoring program and led multiple school-wide discussions on socioeconomic issues in Jordan. At Tufts, Ibrahim is a Class of 2023 Tufts Community Union Senator and has advocated for climate justice initiatives on campus. He was a campus corps leader for the Bernie Sanders campaign and helped lead organizing efforts on the Tufts campus including phone banks, canvassing, and tabling events. Moreover, he was Team Leader with Jumpstart, an AmeriCorps program that sends college students to diverse low-income communities to provide literacy training and social-emotional training for children between the ages of 3 and 5.

Arpan Barua

Arpan Barua

Growing up in Germantown, MD, Arpan’s civic life experience began to take shape during high school. He engaged in many community projects, such as tutoring Latinx ESOL students in geometry and algebra. Though, his biggest project was undoubtedly with YMCA Youth & Government. Through this program, Arpan was able to see through a vision of more students around him finding their voices in politics, no matter their views. He ended with a school program more than six times bigger than what it had started with and had raised thousands of dollars to support the members financially. He used this program to further engage with the community, such as the 2018 Congressional debate held for those running for the 6th district of Maryland. At Tufts, Arpan is humbled and beyond grateful for the opportunity to honor and continue the visions of those who have helped and guided him in the past, anchoring communities toward systematic positive change.

Kaila Caffey

Kaila Caffey

Growing up in Philadelphia, Kaila saw firsthand the need for and effectiveness of community activism. With a passion for social justice and education, she spent four years of high school as a student leader with the Philadelphia Student Union: a youth-based organization that advocates for educational equality. With this organization, most of Kaila’s work was dedicated to advocating for police-less schools in response to the high volume of police violence in the Philly school district. After high school, she participated in Tufts’ 1+4 Program, where she spent her gap year at a women’s shelter in Ecuador. There, she worked closely with the residents and facilitated various workshops. She also helped to cultivate community partnerships to encourage more access to quality supports for the residents of the shelter. Kaila firmly believes in the power of activism and community engagement to effect change. With an interest in displaced identities whether it be foster youth or refugee children, Kaila is excited to pursue this interest academically and as a Tisch Scholar.

Jaime Givens

Jaime Givens

Jaime is a sophomore planning on studying Civic Studies and Africana Studies. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Jaime first started becoming engaged in her community through volunteering with multiple organizations in the Baltimore area. She was able to volunteer at a variety of places like the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Baltimore City, a summer camp with children recovering from cancer, Baltimore Station, a summer camp that worked for underprivileged children, and a community garden that supplied locals living within a food desert with fresh vegetables. After having so many beautiful experiences serving people within her community, Jaime understood the importance of being an active member of a community which is why she applied for the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year program in Hyderabad, India. Jaime chose to take a bridge year through this program because it allowed her to become a part of a community that was focused on uplifting students in low income, urban areas through civic learning. She continued this support of low income students when she got to Tufts by becoming a member of Jumpstart. Jaime’s all time favorite quote is by Maya Angelou because it keeps her grounded in hope, it reads: “Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise.”

Leija Helling

Leija Helling

Leija's civic engagement has centered on identities and diversity. Her most notable involvement has been with Ultimate Peace, an organization that works with Arab-Israeli, Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli youth, using the sport of ultimate and its collaborative values to promote friendship and understanding. The two summers she spent in the Middle East learning from the Ultimate Peace community left a powerful impression. The sport of ultimate itself has been a central feature of Leija's life for many years, and she has been involved extensively in bettering her local ultimate community through leading equity dialogues and coaching youth. At Tufts, Leija plans to pursue majors in computer science and environmental studies, and it is her utmost ambition to find ways of engaging with these fields that are informed by the social justice perspectives she holds important. She is looking forward to learning from her peer Scholars and finding new ways of connecting her academic interests to community engagement.

Valerie Infante

Valerie Infante

Valerie Infante is a rising sophomore majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. Her interest in civic engagement and social justice stemmed from living in Puerto Rico, her home, during Hurricane Maria. She dedicated the years after the tragedy to help the island recover from the aftermath. Her work ranged from volunteering at non-profits distributing items of first necessity to helping recollect holiday gifts for children in Punta Santiago, one of Puerto Rico’s most affected areas, and working with her school’s student council to raise over fifty thousand dollars to help aid victims. She has also participated in community service work like helping the elderly in her local senior home and tutoring elementary school children. Being a Puerto Rican has given her a unique perspective of democracy, imperialism, and human rights due to its colonial status. At Tufts, she is a member of Model United Nations, TCU Senate, and is a Latino Peer Leader. She was a Campaign Fellow for Ed Markey for U.S. Senate in Spring 2020 and worked remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is excited to be civically engaged, impact underprivileged communities, and become a more educated person throughout the Tisch Scholar program.

Soo Min Kim

Soo Min Kim

Soo Min is a sophomore from Orlando, Florida. As a first-generation American, she’s experienced the difficulty of not only finding her place in America, but also having the voices of her community heard. Without having a vote in local, state, and federal government, many communities—particularly communities of color—are excluded and ultimately ignored. Soo Min believes that policies should reflect and include the needs of all people, regardless of a person’s legal status. She hopes to continue advocating for communities through her time with Tisch Scholars and beyond.

Ross Krantz

Ross Krantz

Ross is a rising sophomore from Cleveland, Ohio. He is planning on pursuing a double major in political science and civic studies. He grew up learning about the importance of civic engagement from his role models and teachers. After learning about civic engagement, he started volunteering at a local elderly care center and teaching first graders weekly when he was twelve years old and continued that work into high school. When he was a senior in high school, he served on a philanthropic youth panel where he worked with Cleveland organizations and helped allocate grants. For Ross, though, his most meaningful civic engagement experience was a three-week intensive internship at a local homeless shelter. This experience opened his eyes to systemic injustice in his community and the failures of current systems. Ross cannot wait to get more involved with civic life in the Tufts and Boston community. He is honored and thrilled to be a part of the Tisch Scholars program!

Carolina McCabe

Carolina McCabe

Carolina’s dedication to community organizing and civic engagement stemmed largely from her upbringing living in Northern Virginia, the Dominican Republic, and Panama. Carolina channeled her passion for social justice in the D.C. area throughout high school, working to organize and lead marches for issues relating to gun control, gender equality, climate justice, immigrant rights, and racial equality. She has also volunteered for several local, state, and national campaigns. After taking a gap year in Rabat, Morocco, to study Arabic through the State Department’s NSLI-Y program, Carolina is pursuing majors in Civic Studies and International Relations at Tufts. On campus, Carolina was a Democracy Coach for Generation Citizen and now helps lead the newly founded group ACTION to promote youth civic advocacy in the community. She also leads the Tufts Middle East Research Group. Carolina hopes to inspire change in her own community, while also learning from and connecting with civically engaged youth worldwide.

Joao Quintanilha

Joao Quintanilha

Growing up in one of the most crime-affected neighborhoods in his city, Joao became indignant about the problems that his friends and family face in the community. Even so, it was only when he started high school that his passion for social engagement became tangible, founding a STEM team. There, Joao created inventions that could change people's lives. He invented a tridimensional tablet for visually impaired people, a new method for reusing plastic to help recycling cooperatives, and he discovered a Brazilian seed that can clean polluted waters and help riverside populations. Besides that, Joao also worked for an educational company (Liaison America), where he managed a mentorship program for low-income Brazilian students to develop a socio-scientific project for their communities. Currently, Joao is a volunteer in the Brazilian Student Association, where he runs a project of mentoring 70 teenagers with the application process for American colleges. Joao is a rising sophomore double-majoring Biology and Computer Science. He desires to empower himself to develop scientific solutions of high impact to his communities.

Shariqa Rahman

Shariqa Rahman

Shariqa comes from a small town in Connecticut, where since a young age she enjoyed volunteering for various organizations around the area. From helping her local library inspire kids to see the fun in science, to spending time with seniors at Masonicare’s health care services, Shariqa enjoys anything that allows her to connect with her community. In college, Shariqa has rediscovered her passion for cultural, political, and educational action as she joined clubs like South Asian Political Action Community and Strong Women Strong Girls to encourage herself and those around her to uplift fellow citizens, friends, and neighbors. She hopes to major in Psychology and is interested in its application to social issues such as the institutionalized inequality that marginalized groups face in areas such as health care, education, opportunity, and cultural differences. In the long term, she hopes to get involved in a profession that prioritizes educating on and dissolving barriers of injustices that affect our community.

Neha Ratnapuri

Neha Ratnapuri

Growing up in D.C., activism and civic engagement has always been a big part of Neha Ratnapuri’s life. In addition to being an activist in the area, Neha led many culture and identity based clubs at her high school and organized events in order to educate and spread awareness about different backgrounds, cultures, identities and the intersections between those. Moreover, connecting people from different communities and backgrounds to increase understanding and empathy has been a passion for Neha throughout her life. After noticing that there were no students in her high school that were in or had been in the foster care system, she founded a nonprofit organization, FosterFriends. The program seeks to connect high-schoolers in D.C. with elementary school students in the Foster Care System through shared extracurricular passions. She is continuing her passion for connecting with people and learning about different identities and experiences at Tufts through the interfaith student council, Tufts International Development, and this program! Majoring in Psychology and Civic Studies, Neha Ratnapuri hopes to find an effective way to apply the concepts and values we learn in classes to the communities around us.

Radhika Sharma

Radhika Sharma

As a first-generation American from Kentucky, Radhika has felt the urgency to interact with and understand several communities. She began her pursuit of civic engagement through the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team, which integrates students as partners to improve Kentucky education. The Student Voice Team led Radhika to her passion to help people regain agency for decision-making and recognize the power of their stories. With an interest in listening to and sharing stories, Radhika learned about the menstrual stigma in India and founded a nonprofit, Project Period. Through Project Period, she strives to combat the menstrual stigma using conversation, education, and sanitation. Radhika has authored a period literacy textbook that helps break barriers of the stigma. She continues to better understand health inequities through her work with Pacify, a telelactation company, on increasing access and enrollment, as well as her work with Cambridge Health Alliance on their COVID-19 food insecurity response. Currently, Radhika is pursuing a double major in Biology and Community Health on the pre-medicine track. Radhika’s unique perspective inspires her to combine her interests in storytelling, advocacy, health inequities by pursuing women’s health in the long-term.

Warisha Siddiqui

Warisha Siddiqui

Warisha is a rising sophomore from Queens, NY, pursing a major in international relations and a minor in economics. She became involved in civic engagement while interning at the Museum of Arts and Design. Alongside museum educators, she developed new youth programs in order to make art accessible to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. In high school she served on the School Leadership Team as a student representative to bridge the gap between students and administration by voicing their concerns and influencing policies. As a Muslim woman of color, she aspires to make space for herself and others because she believes in inclusive spaces to elevate voices once forgotten. At Tufts, Warisha has maintained her passion for advocacy and inclusivity through the South Asian Political Action Community, a student group that initiates dialogue and debate in the student community about issues concerning South Asia and its diaspora. She is also a student worker at the Tufts University Chaplaincy where she supports programming for all faiths and spiritual communities on campus. To Warisha, understanding the community around you and the role you and your identities play as a stakeholder is fundamental to civic life.

Lauren Soherr

Lauren Soherr

As a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lauren was raised in a cultural melting pot that sparked her passion for community engagement at the local and global level. At the age of 16, Lauren earned her first full scholarship to study abroad in Berlin, where she began working with refugees from the Middle East and Central Asia. She later graduated high school as a scholarship student at Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, where her interest in human rights motivated her work with Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers. Lauren is grateful for the opportunities she has had to listen to various international communities and collaboratively design initiatives toward meeting their needs. Along with projects in civic engagement abroad, Lauren maintains her civic service in her hometown, where she advocates for government transparency as a board member of Common Cause New Mexico. She hopes that these experiences will allow her to further support positive social change through the Tisch Scholars program.

Elli Sol Strich

Elli Sol Strich

Growing up in Albany, New York, Elli Sol has worked within a variety of settings. She was a proud member of the Albany Youth Climate Strikes and helped lead a music outreach club in her high school. She taught music through a non-profit music education program and founded a chamber group that performed in various capacities throughout Albany, with the goals of music accessibility. She also worked extensively with youth in Albany, including at a Refugee and Immigrant Center, where she taught kindergartners. She is passionate about environmental equity in urban areas, and believes that civic action doesn’t solely have to be deliberate, but can also be a way of responding to everyday occurrences and engaging with community members. 

Cana Tagawa

Cana Tagawa

Cana is a sophomore majoring in Political Science. She is passionate about learning how political institutions and policies can address issues of inequality and inequity in society. She is also passionate about understanding how to best foster civic engagement in communities, and what effects such action has. That is why she is especially honored and excited to be a Tisch Scholar this year.

Beverly Udegbe

Beverly Udegbe

Growing up in the D.C. Metro area, specifically Greenbelt, Maryland, Beverly has encountered many opportunities to reach out to other communities. As a freshman in high school, Beverly began volunteering at her local Doctor’s Community Hospital where she interacted with patients to help normalize their lives. At her all- girls high school, Beverly encouraged others to be more outspoken by developing a network with women all across the world who were examples of transformative global citizens through a nonprofit foundation called Vital Voices. During the Never Again movement, Beverly initiated a praxis project that focused on the effect of gun violence in inner- city areas and safe spaces. She was able to help organize a school wide walkout, lunch and learns, and case studies in her school community to share her work. At Tufts, Beverly has mentored other minority high school students and helped with their college search and applying process. After college, she hopes to pursue a career in the healthcare field focusing on community health. Beverly is eager to continue her civic engagement through community projects and develop a support system within Tisch Scholars.

Malvika Wadhawan

Malvika Wadhawan

Malvika is a sophomore from Seattle, Washington. She plans to major in Political Science and Civic Studies. She hopes to work in the public policy field. She is passionate about intersectionality, creating space for other people, building community, and making sure others’ voices are heard. In high school she co-founded a podcast series called “Everyday Women”, in which “everyday women” discuss their work choices, trade-offs, how they moved up in a job, how they look at mentorship, and how they became active in social justice work. She is also interested in environmental justice and has done research through Seattle University around the issue of global carbon emissions compromising growth in developing economies. At Tufts, Malvika is part of JumboVote as a democracy rep and part of SAPAC (South Asian Political Action Community). To Malvika civic life means bridging the divides between our communities and constantly asking how things can be more accessible to people.

Isabelle Woollacott

Isabelle Woollacott

Isabelle grew up in a small town in Maine where she cultivated a passion for community engagement.  In high school, she helped found the district’s first Civil Rights Team and an intersectional environmentalist group for young women called Girls Out the Door.  She also worked on fundraising events for the local food bank and land trust, and is currently part of a group of local young advocates for racial justice. Isabelle spent her first semester in Urubamba, Peru, as a Tufts Civic Semester scholar, where she held an internship with a cooperative of Indigenous female agriculturists and learned to build meaningful relationships while immersed in a different culture.  On campus, she is a mentor with Strong Women Strong Girls, studying Applied Environmental Studies with a focus on environmental justice and health, and is looking forward to further working with her new Boston-area community as a Tisch Scholar.