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New Tisch Scholars: 2021-2022

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 2021-2022 academic year are:

Nabila Anandara

Bio coming soon.

Baljaa Borgil

Baljaa is a Mongolian-American student from the greater New York City area. His civic engagement started early in high school, working with groups like PERIOD, an NGO that works to address menstrual equity through service, education, and advocacy. From his experience, Baljaahas learned that civic engagement means expanding beyond one’s own horizons to serve the community in any way possible. Currently, Baljaa works as a Peer Intern at the Asian American Center where not only does he organize events, but also fosters community and discussion-based spaces for APIDA-identifying students on campus.

Wilson Cedillo

Wilson Cedillo, a native of Chicago, IL, and a first-generation college student pursuing a double major in Economics and Political Science, has always understood the importance of paving the way for others and seeks to continue doing so at Tufts. On-campus, Wilson has been a part of Tufts Democrats’ Diversity & Inclusion Board, an active member of Tufts QuestBridge chapter as well as the Tufts College Access Initiative. Having been raised in an Ecuadorian household, Wilson recognizes the struggle that is confronting multiple identities. While attending Francis W. Parker, Wilson maintained his engagement in Chicago’s Gage Park community by volunteering his time at the Yoshitaka Karate-Do – a martial arts school that emphasizes that teaching an individual how to defend themselves is secondary to showing them how to overcome systemic problems and serve as role models for the next generation. Wilson is excited and honored to be of the Tisch Scholar program and looks forward to being of service to the various communities here in Boston.

Saffiyah Coker

Saffiyah Coker grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, where she learned the value of community activism and the strength of the BIPOC community. While at Tufts University, she plans to major in International Relations & Economics. Since high school, Saffiyah has served her local community through non-profit work. Working with the Boston non-profit, South End Soccer, illuminated the value of services that empower youth. She is passionate about advocating for and advancing all marginalized communities. In addition to the Tisch Scholars Program at Tufts, Saffiyah is a current Democracy Representative with JumboVote, a member of Tisch Council for Philanthropic Leadership, Women in International Relations, and a Student Consultant for 180 Degrees Consulting. Saffiyah’s dedication to improving life for students of color has led her to serve as the Communications Coordinator for the Inagural Black Womyn’s Empowerment Conference. For Saffiyah, civic empowerment means actively working to rectify the injustices you see in the world and working as an active force of change.

Daria Gitiforooz

Daria began her passion for civic engagement early in her academic career. Her first service opportunity began with a volunteer job as a Polish-language teacher at the I.J Paderewski Polish Language School in Cleveland, Ohio. In high school, she also volunteered at Case Western Reserve University, where she was involved a cell biology research lab that studied the structure and function of the nucleolus in yeast cells. At Tufts, Daria is involved in many clubs on campus, including Tufts for Health Equity and Maternal Advocacy for Research in Community Health (MARCH), where she is the co-chair of the Event Planning and Fundraising Committee. She is a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and volunteers for Empowering Youth Exploring Justice (EYEJ) in their Youth Online Discussing Justice program. She is passionate about empowering underserved youth in her community, and this passion propelled her to be a Tisch Scholar. She cannot wait to see what her future as a Tisch Scholar will hold!

Leija Helling

Leija is passionate about creating spaces for community dialogue and forging inclusive movements for sustainable futures. Growing up in Western Massachusetts and Helsinki, Finland, she developed a keen interest in spatial justice and intersectionality in environmental spheres. She currently works as an organizer at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, a hub for grassroots leaders in the environmental justice movement. She has also directed local summer camps, led gender equity and social justice initiatives in her sports community, and contributed to voter outreach campaigns through Swing Left Greater Boston and Tufts JumboVote. At Tufts, Leija studies American Studies, Science, Technology and Society, and dabbles in Computer Science. She believes in listening, storytelling, building solidarity across race and class, and decoupling science and technology from colonialism to fight for a better future for everyone.

Audrey Jaramillo

Growing up in Miami, Florida, Audrey saw the disconnect between local governments and their constituents, specifically immigrants or undocumented peoples, who faced countless barriers of limited resources and opportunities. In high school, she began volunteering at community organizations focused on bridging this gap. While on the Miami-Dade Youth Commission, created for the youth of Miami to address ongoing issues within their communities using county resources, Audrey led her own civic engagement project creating digital outreach content on voting rights information and eligibility aimed at empowering migrant youth with information on their rights as community members. Growing up in school systems that offered little assistance to immigrant students, Audrey saw another need and decided to volunteer with Refugee Assistance Alliance, tutoring recently migrated children and organizing community events and activities to help Middle Eastern migrant families acclimate to South Florida. At Tufts, Audrey is heavily involved with the Latinx community and Tisch College, seeking to develop a better understanding of her cultural and civic identity to ultimately help others. By double majoring in International Relations and Civic Studies, she hopes to support  international communities by questioning systems in place and creating safe, equitable, and sustainable communities.

Ashley Jin

Ashley is a rising sophomore from Bridgewater, New Jersey. She is currently enrolled in the Combined Degree program with the SMFA, and is interested in studying Psychology and Anthropology in addition to painting and illustration. In high school, Ashley was a founder of the Student Mental Health Committee, hosting de-stressing events for students during exams, and growing personal relationships with incoming freshmen, offering authentic advice on coping with growing pains. She also pursued her commitment to mental health advocacy by creating an independent initiative, Stick to Life, where she designed and sold stickers to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. At Tufts, she has been involved with the Tufts Asian Student Coalition (TASC), helping to organize workshops centering Asian-American identity and contributing to the annual arts and writing zine, Voices. Moving forward, Ashley is eager to explore the intersection of arts and civic engagement to further empower local organizations, in the effort to make education in activism more accessible through visual art.

Ilisa Lama

Ilisa’s civic experience initially derived within the classroom walls of Somerville High School, where she first cultivated her sense of self-identity and community citizenship. From learning the racial history, social inequalities, and current events of the U.S., to learning the power in self-voice and intersectionality, education bridged her social consciousness to a drive in creating social impact. During high school, she co-created the Asian Cultural Experience Club, and actively contributed to class discussions, panels in the South Asian community, and leadership workshops which all advocated for social justice, equity, and openness in dialogue. She has also worked to strengthen her allyingship and participation in social movements such as Black Lives Matter, March For Our Lives, the Women’s Movement, and recently, Stop Asian Hate. At Tufts, she served as the Freshman Representative for SCAR (Student Coalition for Anti-Racism), and currently serves on the Amalgamation Committee for BLAST’s Cohort 9, where she coordinates events that foster solidarity within the first-generation, low-income student community. She is passionate about how individuals create meaning-making within the contexts of our social landscapes, and how we can propel positive change through a collaborative space of conversation.

Nacie Loh

Nacie Loh began her civic life growing up in Cambridge, MA. With parents active in social justice work in Boston, she spent time learning from and participating in local efforts. Much of her thinking about community comes from her time at the Farm School in Athol, MA, where, along with agricultural skills, she learned what values of kindness and caring for yourself, human/nonhuman others, and the land look like in practice. Through the City School's Summer Leadership Program in Boston, Nacie learned about race, positionality and personal/collectibe power, developing a deeper sense of responsibility and place as a mixed Asian/Euro-American person. Later in high school she worked with organizations like Boston Mobilization, MA Youth for Climate Justice, and Groundwork Sommerville, furthering her understanding of community organizing, anti-capitalism, and environmental justice through efforts such as creating/facilitating workshops and managing community gardens. Through these expereinces, Nacie has come to believe that people, relationships and communities are where true powed come from. While at Tufts, Nacie hopes to major in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora and minor in Studio Art, while continuing to learn from and work with the various communities she belongs to -- through Tisch Scholars and beyond.

Sabah Lokhandwala

Sabah is a sophomore from the suburbs of Chicago studying International Relations and Economics. She owes her South Asian, Muslim, and women communities for everything and believes the only way forward with her education and career is to work to better the conditions in and for these spaces. While in high school, Sabah was involved with her local mosque in creating discussion around what the Muslim identity means, how do we help yet criticize our communities, and how religion and society can exist concurrently. Additionally, she worked at a feminist nonprofit and wrote for various youth-run publications. In those spaces, she interacted with the diverse paths of civic engagement. Inspired by the conversations, mentorship, and stories, Sabah knew she wanted her academic career to be critical of society and exist beyond research papers and economic models. In the future, Sabah aims to look at how international security measures harm religious minorities and women and how one can use principles of religious pluralism, community-based engagement, and public policy to stop the Othering of Muslims around the globe. Right now, she is excited to build a network with like-minded scholars and understand how her interests intersect with other civic issues.

Kyrielle Lord

Kyrielle is an Environmental Engineer from San Diego, CA . She interned with I Love a Clean San Diego and supported clean-up events throughout the county. The past two summers, she worked at Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Youth enrichment programs through the University of San Diego. These programs were funded by the National Science Foundation for the purpose of offering high-quality STEAM experiences to middle school students from communities traditionally underrepresented in STEM. The relationship between STEM and social justice is especially important to her. Kyrielle is also an Eco-Rep and has been working with them to improve environmental education on campus. She is excited to learn more about civic engagement and integrate that knowledge into the environmental work she plans to do in the future.

Carolina Hidalgo-McCabe

Carolina’s dedication to community organizing and civic engagement stemmed largely from her upbringing living in the D.C. area, Dominican Republic, and Panama. Carolina has channeled her dedication to social justice through community organizing centered around gender equity, racial justice, gun control, and climate action. She has also volunteered for several local, state, and national political campaigns. After taking a gap year in Morocco, studying Arabic through the State Department’s NSLI-Y scholarship, Carolina is now pursuing majors in Civic Studies and International Relations at Tufts. After her first year on campus, where she helped lead ACTION and the Middle East Research Group, Carolina took a leave from Tufts. Ahead of the 2020 Elections, Carolina moved to Florida and worked with Cubanos con Biden and the Miami Freedom Project to mobilize a progressive power base and combat disinformation, especially within Latinx communities. Along with her mobilizing work in Miami, Carolina has now been leading student voter engagement work at Civic Nation’s ALL IN Challenge for nearly a year, and now acts as ALL IN’s Program Associate. She hopes to inspire civic action, advance gender equity, and support movements for social justice alongside changemakers across the U.S. and globally.

Saira Mukherjee

Saira grew up in Austin, Texas. Through the faculty at her high school, she became involved with The Memory Project organization, where she facilitated other students in their portrait-making of children from a different country each year. These children have often faced substantial challenges, like poverty, loss of family, displacement and neglect.  Saira also worked with the Amala Foundation in Austin, as they hosted the Global Youth Peace Summit every summer. This Summit invites youth from all around the world to disengage from technology from a week and share cultural and arts practices with each other, while forming strong bonds. On Tufts campus, Saira is involved with South Asian Political Action Community (SAPAC), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and the Conversation, Action, Faith and Education (CAFE) pre-orientation program.

Olly Ogbue Akaoluchukwu

Olly Ogbue is a first-year student at Tufts University intending to study Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Civic Studies. To Olly, civic engagement is about putting in the work to become involved with causes you care about. Her civic engagement journey began in high school when she joined SURJE (Students United for Racial Justice and Equity). During her time with SURJE, Olly organized events to inform her peers of overlooked inequities. Over the years, she became involved with other organizations as well - frequently volunteering with Red Cross Food Bank and Women's Lunch Place. On campus, she is primarily involved with the Tisch College Council for Philanthropic Leadership. She is a part of the Events, Podcast, and Grantmaking committees. In this position, she designs promotion material, drafts outreach content, and helps develop a fundraising strategy.  Additionally, Olly is part of Palmier, the food magazine on campus, as a photographer. Olly can't wait to get started as a Tisch Scholar and is looking forward to her growth throughout the program.

Luke Pangan Petrosky

Luke Pangan Petrosky lived in South Hadley, a small town in western MA, for the first 18 years of his life. His experience with civic engagement began as a volunteer at a nearby hospital where his mind was opened by the lives of the patients he listened to. After high school, he was privileged with the opportunity to participate in the Tufts 1+4 bridge year program to Cuenca, Ecuador. This challenging, transformative experience was spent living with a host family and working at Fundación Crea tu Espacio, a non-profit that aids migrants in their transitory periods. Back at Tufts, Luke has attempted to lead a civic life by phone banking and texting voters for the 2020 election. Luke is excited to keep learning as a Tisch Scholar.

Radhika Sharma

Bio coming soon.

Olivia Talbert

Olivia is a rising sophomore aspiring to major in International Relations, Civic Studies, and minor in Social Entrepreneurship. Before coming to Tufts, Olivia’s experience with civic engagement started at a young age in her hometown of Topeka, Kansas. Growing up in a low-income community, giving back became second nature and sparked her passion for civic engagement. From providing and serving free meals to families experiencing food insecurity, to interning for local politicians; Olivia has accumulated love for all sides of civic engagement. Some of Olivia’s favorite experiences with civic engagement include become a mentor to children through various community programs, helping combat local food insecurity through providing and serving free meals, starting a local outreach and advocacy organization for youth mental health, and working for her state legislature. Olivia believes that civic engagement is all about a connection between people and their communities, so making a meaningful impact on one person is making a meaningful impact for all.

Giovana Torres-Lorenzotti

Giovana Torres-Lorenzotti was born and raised in New York City. Her family immigrated from Uruguay, and she is both a first-generation college student and American. Giovana’s involvement in civic engagement largely derives from her upbringing in NYC in an immigrant household being raised by a single mother. Throughout high school, Giovana interned at the New York Civil Liberty Union (NYCLU), where she helped organize workshops and protests, and learned to lobby. The NYCLU served as a pivotal foundation upon which Giovana continues to build her activism. She further continued her community service through participating in Tuft’s 1+4 bridge year in Uruguay, where she gained valuable experience in event planning, report writing, and connected to her Uruguayan roots. In her first year at Tufts, Giovana has continued her civic engagement through her involvement in sexual health advocacy. As a Tufts sexual health representative, Giovana pioneered a collaborative podcast with Tuft’s Observer, called Dirty Chai Chats, that discusses matters related to sexual health. As a Tisch Scholar, she hopes to continue her civic engagement by pairing her academics with her internship placement and continuing to engage in meaningful discourse with fellow scholars. In her free time, Giovana enjoys cooking, reading non-fiction books, bike riding, and going on spontaneous adventures with friends.

Amari Turner

Amari Turner is a sophomore from Los Angeles, California. She plans to pursue an interdisciplinary degree combining Sociology, Political Science, and Africana Studies. She is currently a Writing Fellow, and a member of the Tufts Mock Trial Team. With an intense love for poetry and writing, she works with the Los Angeles based organization Get Lit fostering literacy development and expression through poetic verse. As a part of her work in the organization and as a writer she will be featured in an upcoming documentary following her journey as a poet. Amari plans to bring her creativity into her social justice work as a Tisch scholar and hopes to provide an artistic medium to discuss social problems.

Malvika Wadhawan

Malvika is a sophomore from Seattle, Washington. She plans to major in Political Science and American Studies. She hopes to work in the political and legal advocacy and media fields. She is passionate about intersectionality, creating space for other people, building community, and making sure others’ voices are heard. At Tufts Malvika is part of the Asian American Center community, the interfaith community, and part of SAPAC (South Asian Political Action Community). To Malvika civic life means valuing our communities, asking questions, and constantly asking how things can be more accessible to people.

Waideen Wright

Beginning in her first semester at Tufts, Waideen’s passion for civic life and engagement has been nourished through the Tisch College. Partaking in the inaugural Tufts Civic Semester abroad in Cusco, Perú is where she realized her love for women’s empowerment while interning with an organization focusing on enhancing the businesses and independence of indigenous Peruvian women. This passion soared to new heights when she served as the Content Coordinator for the Black Womyn’s Empowerment Conference, another student’s Tisch Scholars project, earlier this year with the goal of connecting, unifying, and uplifting Black women in higher education. As of now, elevating and supporting the first-generation community at Tufts has been another major priority for Waideen as a freshly inaugurated Tufts First-Gen Collective (FGC) and Questbridge board member. By double majoring in Political Science and Anthropology with an Urban Studies minor, Waideen hopes to enact social change through policy and legislation that is both effective and culturally sensitive.