New Tisch Scholars: 2022-2023
We are excited to welcome 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.
Ananya Gita is a rising sophomore at Tufts. She grew up in Mumbai and moved to New York during high school. She is deeply passionate about organizing and advancing justice in her community back home and at Tufts. Hoping to pursue Political Science and Spanish, she is a member of the South Asian Political Action Committee and Teach-in CORES. She has predominantly organized around issues of voting rights, immigrant rights, criminal justice reform, and equity in education in New York, Massachusetts and on a national level. She is a strong believer in the power of mass action and involvement to affect change. She is excited to join the Tisch Scholars program and wants to acquire skills, experience and a network that will help her grow as an organizer. In the future, she plans to apply her takeaways from the program in hopes of running for public office.
My name is Angelia Shi, and I am a first-year student from Jinan, Shandong, China. My civic engagement started in high school, during which I organized a “Know Your Rights” summer lecture series in my hometown, founded a Students Against Xenophobia group during the pandemic, and actively engaged in my high school community in Monterey, California. Engaging in these organizations and activities made me realize that even minor actions, such as sharing knowledge or creating a platform for people to voice their concerns and experiences, are necessary for greater changes. My civic life continues by participating in Tufts Civic Semester 2021, a life-changing experience that introduced me to various social justice issues. I have also learned the importance of building relationships in community building and civic engagement from organizational visits. I’m excited to be a Tisch Scholar and engage in the Greater Boston community.
Arnav Patra was raised in Buffalo, New York, and the DC Area. He is pursuing a double major in Economics and Civic Studies, while always maintaining a strong interest in public service and community work. On-campus, Arnav has been a student intern at the Tufts Asian American Center, working to foster inclusive environments on campus, and helped lead 180 Degrees Consulting, a pro bono student consulting group focused on nonprofits and social impact. As a child of Indian immigrants, Arnav is proud of his heritage and identity and carries it with him in all that he does. In high school, Arnav found ways to work in the community through serving his hometown congressman, working on projects to improve constituent communications and services as well as initiating a greater analysis of federal investment in the district. He has also conducted community-based research on the informational needs of small businesses at the University of Maryland. Arnav is honored to be a part of the Tisch Scholar community, and to engage with the community around him while joining this incredible group of student leaders.
Ashley Jones-Flores is a sophomore studying International Relations and Civic Studies from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Ashley’s civic engagement started in high school through her engagement in the Maryland state government and volunteering in her local community. She was especially passionate about working with the Spanish-speaking and immigrant communities in the state. Ashley continued her work in these communities when she came to Tufts University. At Tufts, she has become an ESL teacher at the Committee on Refugees from El Salvador and a programming intern at the Latinx Center. Off-campus, Ashley has worked with the greater Boston immigrant community through the Center to Support Immigrant Organizing. In the future, Ashley hopes to advocate for marginalized communities by pursuing a career in law. She is excited to learn more about and explore the concept of civic life through the Tisch Scholars program.
Growing up in Arkansas, community engagement has been a core principle of Aviance's upbringing. As a kid, she worked alongside her grandmothers to help feed the community in her hometown through her church, St. Mark AME. In high school, Aviance led SOUL Club - a club devoted to teaching her school community about various cultures and the traditions of those cultures. Additionally, Aviance has spent the past three years informally braiding hair at affordable prices for those living in her community. For Aviance, community engagement is about getting to know the people living in your community and using your talents to help those people. Currently, Aviance is pursuing a major in Community Health on the pre-medicine track and aspires to become a pediatrician in future. Outside of class, she enjoys stepping with ENVY Step Team and looks forward to braiding hair in her community this summer!
Ayomide Oloyede (Ayo) is a first-year from down-south Columbus, GA. For Ayo, civic life has always taken on many different forms, but service has always remained at the forefront. He is a passionate servant leader and self-proclaimed advocate with a talent for outreach. While in his junior year of high school, he created a non-profit foundation, Project Lunchtime, that rescued food from four restaurant partners and transformed them into substantial meals for his homeless community. Since his time at Tufts, he has been elected as the FIRST (First-Gen, Low Income, and Undocumented) Community Senator. While in this role, He has relentlessly pursued equitable treatment of students from all backgrounds. He is a spoken-word poet, award-winning actor, Questbridge scholar, and major foodie.
Biani is a sophomore from Lagos, Nigeria and Malden, MA, planning to major in International Relations and Anthropology. On campus she is an active member of SPEAC (Student Prison Education Abolition Coalition), a student-organized community working towards dismantling the carceral state, and COCOA dancers, the only competitive Afrobeats dance team at Tufts. Her passion for civic engagement began in high school, where she was part of PRISM (People Rising In Support of Multiculturalism) a club at her high school dedicated to breaking down the social boundaries within the predominantly white school by encouraging conversations and open dialogue amongst people of different cultures. However, partaking in the Civic Semester in the Southwest is what truly shaped her understanding of civic engagement and community organizing. In the Southwest she visited a lot of organizations that valued working together as a community to create long-term change and this value of "community work" is something that she would like to bring into the social justice work she will be doing as a Tisch Scholar.
Edith is an English and Economics double major born in Tamil Nadu and raised in the swampy state of Louisiana. During her youth she had been an active part of an ESL class that helped immigrants gain their citizenship and also worked with her community after natural disasters devastated their lives. On campus she is a part of the Tufts Observer where she edits and writes about passions close to her heart like caste equity and coming of age movies. She is also a returning Asian American Center intern, and member of SAPAC (South Asian Political Action Committee). She has an affinity for reading and writing as she believes that it is one of the few places where marginalized people especially are able to keep a written history true to themselves, and hopes to further that throughout her time at Tufts and as a Tisch Scholar.
Esma’s involvement in civic engagement started during her time living abroad in Somalia where she discovered her interests lay between the nexus of transitional justice and equitable development in post-conflict societies. Esma is a Somali-American student from Boston and is majoring in International Relations and minoring in Cognitive Brain Science and Arabic. In college, Esma is involved on campus as a student worker in University Chaplaincy, coordinator for the Tufts with Rwanda Fellowship, and holds leadership positions in Tufts MSA and Women in IR. She has explored her interests outside Tufts through interning for the Youth Ubuntu Project and 826 Boston publication, instructing a course for Yale YYAS, and participating in the State Department’s CLS Program. Esma looks forward to continuing her civic engagement through community projects and developing a support system within Tisch Scholars.
Jasmin is a first-generation, rising sophomore and a prospective Community Health major at Tufts. Jasmin resides in Compton, California, yet recognizes Wilmington, California, a prominently Latinx low-income community, as the place of her upbringing. Her civic engagement sparked throughout high school, attending the local Wilmington schools, as she noticed the prevalent educational and mental health inequity present for underrepresented and marginalized youth. As a 13-year member and the leader of the Keystone program at her local Boys & Girls Club, Jasmin advocated for the improvement of resources for youth and raise awareness through teen-outreach events like Stress 4 Less to teens and Boys & Girls Club site directors. To Jasmin, civic life is about supporting others to reach their fullest potential and fostering a sense of community within marginalized groups. Jasmin is excited to continue her journey of civic engagement through the Tisch Scholars Program.
Joel Omolade is a Nigerian-American student from the Bronx, NY majoring in Political Science and Community Health and minoring in Entrepreneurship. He's been involved in civic engagement since high school, especially in the educational sector. Seeing the major inequalities that existed his own community challenged him to work for the next generation and has worked to teach students in underfunded schools about coding through a program called We Love Coding. At Tufts, he's involved in the Pre-Law Society and Mock Trial, and he is working to build an app with the Entrepreneurship center;. Joel is also a Class Senator for TCU, and works for admissions as a Tour Guide! He is so blessed to be chosen to be a Tisch Scholar and he can't wait to work to serve the greater Boston Community.
Jose Velasquez is a freshman from North Carolina. While in high school, Jose volunteered in numerous programs to deepen his connection with his community. Jose is most proud of his efforts with the East Coast Migrant Program, a non-profit organization rooted in migrant families. While at Tufts, Jose is a member of TeachIn-Cores, an English tutoring club for Central-American immigrants. Jose hopes to continue learning about civic work through the Tisch college program, and the other resources available at Tufts.
I am a rising junior at Tufts from New Jersey majoring in Community Health and minoring in Asian American Studies. As a daughter of Taiwanese immigrants growing up in a primarily white space, coming to Tufts and gaining a vocabulary to describe my marginalized experiences helped me cultivate a strong passion for racial advocacy and community building. On-campus, I play an active role in the Tufts Asian Student Coalition and Asian American Center to put on workshops and events that improve the visibility and experiences of AAPI students at the university. Outside of Tufts, I have interned for the Asian Outreach Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services to increase access to legal aid for Asian/Asian American immigrants and on-campus, and look forward to finding other ways to uplift underserved community members in my future endeavors as a Tisch Scholar.
Raised by working-class Vietnamese immigrants in Tampa, Kevin has always been at the forefront of digital organizing. With experience working for numerous political campaigns and organizations as a communications specialist, he desires to answer one question: How can public servants adapt to a technologically progressing world? Kevin first immersed himself into this field as a Summer Fellow of Viet Fact Check, a project of the Progressive Vietnamese American Organization, where he researched sophisticated disinformation campaigns that were affecting the Vietnamese diaspora. However, his proudest memory working there would be a recent shoutout by John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight Show episode about misinformation.
You can usually see Kevin planning cultural events at the Asian American Center and solving projects within 180Degrees Consulting. He also serves as Head of Outreach at JumboSec, Tufts’ only cybersecurity and policy club. Outside of campus, he volunteers with the Clinic to End Tech Abuse, a Cornell Tech initiative that assists abuse victims against online harassment. Currently, Kevin is working with MassVOTE to combat voter inequity and bolster representation in marginalized communities across Massachusetts. He aspires to become a digital rights activist and lawyer in the public interest sector.
Lily Feng is from Farmington, Connecticut studying International Relations and Community Health. Finding a passion in fostering conversations and advocating for the rights of marginalized communities during high school, she continued her journey volunteering with a local refugee resettlement non-profit organization and conducting research on the global refugee crisis in her last two years of high school. Wanting to continue her civic-focus into college, Lily took part in the Tufts Civic Semester and traveled to the American Southwest to listen and engage with community-based organizations that fought for indigenous sovereignty, environmental health justice, and immigration rights. Lily hopes to deepen her knowledge and integrate her past experiences with her academic coursework at Tufts and through the Tisch Scholars program.
Rachel is a rising sophomore from St. Louis, Missouri. She began fostering a strong interest for civic engagement in high school. As a co-founder and board member on her high school’s Science Olympiad team, she helped create a collaborative environment where peers could explore advanced topics in inquiry and ecology events she led. She also explored her Chinese American identity through spoken word poetry in Speech and Debate and taught students how to use this medium for advocacy. As an editor for her school newspaper, she has promoted local small businesses and written about over policing in St. Louis in journalistic articles. Since coming to Tufts, Rachel has been studying Biology and Studio Art through the Combined Degree Program with SMFA. She also serves as a designer for Future Histories, a student-run literary-art magazine that amplifies marginalized voices at Tufts. In addition, she created her own publication project, Voices of Boston’s Chinatown, in response to learning about the housing crisis and gentrification in Chinatown. The campaign includes illustrated zines and a website that uplift stories of Chinatown residents and activists whom she interviewed. She hopes to continue using her diverse passions and experiences for civic participation as a Tisch Scholar.
Rohan is an Indian-American rising sophomore from Upstate New York planning to major in International Relations at the School of Arts and Sciences. Rohan’s passion for community development crystallized in high school. He founded his own organization - born out of his passion for tennis - called Kids Courts, providing free lessons to kids in his local community. Due to his experiences, Rohan appreciates the importance of service and community organizing in creating sustainable and equitable futures for others. At Tufts, Rohan is involved in the South Asian Political Action Committee, and ALLIES. Off-campus, Rohan is excited to work with Communities for Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW) to help further their goals in climate justice and environmental education. In the future, Rohan hopes to advocate for and help construct green, reliable, and egalitarian policy initiatives.
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tylee tosia nez is a junior studying Environmental Engineering from Tucson, Arizona, residing on the homelands of the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui Nations. On campus, tylee is a student worker for the Indigenous Center and Center for Engineering Education and Outreach and involved in the Indigenous Students’ Organization at Tufts (ISOT), United for Immigrant Justice (UIJ), and Boxers on the Hill as an executive board member.
Wei grew up in a small coastal city in China named Wenzhou, and then moved to Shanghai, where he received bilingual education and began his civic engagement. In his first volunteering experience as a mentor, Wei met several high school dropouts who were forced to quit school due to financial constraints. He was deeply touched by their personal stories and passions to study. Ever since then, he has fought for equitable access to education by initiating and running Continuous Learning Program, a student-led nonprofit organization that helps dropouts re-enroll. Moreover, he has raised awareness to this civic issue by leading Guanghua Student Charity Foundation to organize volunteer teachings every summer. At Tufts, Wei is an active member of 180 Degrees Consulting, a student consulting group that empowers NGOs in the greater Boston area. In addition, he supports Tufts Chinese community by serving as an outreach specialist in Tufts Chinese Scholars and Student Association. Academically, he plans to study Political Science, Philosophy and, Economics to strengthen his understanding of the formations of social issues and draw potential insights to alleviate them. Wei is very excited to continue his social justice work through being a Tisch Scholar!
Wendy Rugerio is a rising sophomore from Queens, NY. Growing up she knew that she wanted to go to college, but she knew it wouldn’t be easy because college wasn’t as accessible to her community. In High School, she didn’t want others to feel alone, so she took advantage of the internship opportunities available to her during her junior and senior year. During this time, she was able to help underclassmen develop the skills needed to successfully transition into a new environment, while exposing them to resources that would get them thinking about college and help them understand that despite being first-generation, low-income, or having undocumented status; they were more than capable and deserving of higher education. She is very passionate about supporting first-generation, low-income, and/or students with undocumented status, so she makes herself accessible to students from her old High School whenever they have concerns about applying to college, financial aid, etc. On campus, she is involved with United for Immigrant Justice (UIJ) and is constantly working towards supporting immigrant communities and immigrant youth. She plans on continuing to support these communities as a BEAST Pre-orientation leader and a Tisch Scholar.