Pitzer College Students and Alumni Win 2017 Regional, National and International Awards

Pitzer Gates on Mills Avenue looking south

Claremont, Calif. (August 9, 2017)—More than 30 Pitzer College students and graduates won fellowships, scholarships and awards during the 2016-17 academic year. Here is an overview of Pitzer’s outstanding scholars and the awards they received to support research projects, language learning and academic programs around the world.

American Sociological Association Honors Program

Adriana Ceron ’18 was accepted to the American Sociological Association Honors Program for exceptional sociology students. The program introduces undergraduate sociology students to the professional life of the discipline and encourages them to develop long-lasting networks with other aspiring sociologists. In 2016, Ceron earned a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, an initiative of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation designed to increase faculty diversity by supporting outstanding underrepresented students who plan to pursue careers in academia. A sociology major and Chicano/a-Latino/a studies minor, Ceron is an intern with Pitzer’s Office of Admission’s Preview Pitzer Program.

Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs

Chance Kawar ’17, a political studies major and Spanish minor, was selected as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs in Los Angeles, where he will participate in a nine-month, graduate-level experiential leadership training program. At Pitzer, Kawar took on numerous leadership roles, including serving for seven semesters in the Student Senate, most recently as the senior class president. He was also chairman of Pitzer Activities, as well as a founding member of the Middle Eastern Student Association. He has interned for both regional and national political leaders, including US Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Susan Davis. He also studied abroad on the Pitzer in Ecuador program. Kawar ultimately plans to pursue a graduate degree in public policy or administration, and ultimately work in the public or nonprofit sector.

Jennifer Lesorogol ’17, an environmental analysis and international and intercultural studies double major, was awarded a Coro Fellowship to Los Angeles. At Pitzer, Lesorogol was active in many facets of campus life, including serving as an admission fellow, a research assistant, a student senator and a student field group representative. She also interned with Global Green USA’s Green Urbanism Program. Her long-term career goals include working with an environmental think tank or an NGO dedicated to addressing climate change. The Coro Fellowship will help Lesorogol fulfill these goals through hands-on training experiences as an activist, advocate and policy maker.

Davis Projects for Peace

Brendan Schultz ’20, a politics, philosophy and sociology major, was awarded $10,000 from Davis Projects for Peace for his project “Bridging Backgrounds: A Macedonian Inter-Ethnic Conference for Cultivating Mutual Understanding and Tolerance.” Schultz will organize a youth conference this July in Macedonia that will be the first to include participants from all the ethnicities present in the country with the goal of creating a community in order to reach a common, high level of understanding of human rights and hate speech. During his senior year in high school, he served as a United States Youth Ambassador to Macedonia on a youth cultural exchange scholarship.

Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship

Lillian Horin ’17, a biology major, received a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship to pursue her PhD at Harvard University, where she plans to study the relationship between metabolic dysregulation and (epi)genetic regulation.  Horin was also awarded a 2017 National Science Foundation Fellowship.

Alfredo “Freddy” Valencia ’14, a biochemistry major, was awarded a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship to complete his PhD in chemical biology at Harvard University. His research focuses on the biochemical and epigenetic underpinnings of highly aggressive cancers.

Fulbright Fellowship

Tyler Cohen ’15, a sociology major, has been awarded a Fulbright to Thailand, where he will teach English to fourth, fifth and sixth graders in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat. He plans to use his skills as a self-motivator to help make English-language learning memorable for students. Outside the classroom, Cohen aims to learn more about Thai cuisine and produce collaborative artwork. After his Fulbright year, he hopes to engage in intergenerational collaborations in a variety of venues and become an educator.

Kyra Ghosh ’17, a history major, was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Indonesia. She plans to use skills she developed teaching schoolchildren English in Senegal, as well as other innovative pedagogies in a high school in Indonesia. Ghosh’s host country engagement will include creating an afterschool batik and poetry workshop. After her Fulbright year, she plans to earn an MA degree before becoming a high school teacher. Ghosh studied abroad with the School for International Training (SIT) program in Senegal.

Julia Gibas-Jones ’12, an international & intercultural studies and narrative studies double major, was awarded a Fulbright ETA to Brazil. She plans to use international news, in both mainstream and social media, as a tool for content-based instruction. Outside the classroom, she will use Portuguese to immerse herself in her community and to gather a collection of oral histories. While at Pitzer, Gibas-Jones studied abroad in Botswana, Morocco and China.

Natalie Honan ’17, a human biology major, was awarded a Fulbright ETA award to Spain. She will use her Spanish language skills and passion for teaching to help design a culturally relevant and intersectional curriculum. Honan will engage with her community by teaching health education to high school students. While at Pitzer, she went abroad to Argentina and Chile. In the future, she plans to go to medical school.

Jordan Jenkins ’17, a political studies major and Spanish minor, was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Spain. She will make use of her Spanish language skills to bring a collaborative and dialogical approach to language learning to create a productive and engaged classroom.  A cross country and track runner, Jenkins hopes to establish an after-school running program in order to promote discipline, self-reflection and personal growth. At Pitzer, she was a Writing Center fellow and her future plans include introducing the Writing Center’s practices to high school students. Jenkins studied abroad in the Pitzer in Ecuador program.

Davida Koren ’17, a sociology and organization studies combined major, received a research Fulbright to Canada, where she will examine the impact that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has had on Aboriginal Educational programming. For her community engagement, Koren plans to become a tutor or teaching assistant at an elementary school in the district where she will conduct her research. During her time at Pitzer, Koren tutored at School on Wheels and Camp Afflerbaugh-Paige. After returning to the US, she plans to apply to graduate school and study educational programming that advocates for marginalized groups.

Douglas Lewis ’17, a public policy analysis-sociology major, was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English in Bulgaria. At Pitzer, Lewis was a Writing Center fellow who served on the College’s Appointments, Promotions and Tenure Committee and studied abroad with the Pitzer in Nepal program. Ultimately, Lewis plans to pursue a master’s or doctorate degree in public policy with a focus on education.

Aminah Luqman ’17, an international political economy and Spanish double major, received a Fulbright award to teach English in Colombia. She will draw upon her experience teaching ESL to Spanish-speaking day laborers, as well as past teaching experiences in Nicaragua. In Colombia, Luqman plans to learn more about the African diaspora in the Americas and ultimately use this knowledge as a teacher or policymaker committed to education reform. In Colombia, she also plans to engage with the community through her love of music, dance and soccer. Luqman participated in the Sarah Lawrence College exchange program in Cuba.

Andrew Lydens ’17, a philosophy, politics and economics major, received a Fulbright ETA award in South Korea. At Pitzer, Lydens served as the student body president as well as the Judicial Council chair. He said he believes that his leadership background, along with his cultural awareness and teaching skills, will be key to a successful learning experience. Additionally, by tapping into his love for the outdoors and organizing a hiking group in his community, he hopes to create a forum for language and cultural exchange.

Rebecca Nathan ’17, psychology, studio art and gender and feminist studies triple major, received a Fulbright ETA award to South Korea, where she plans to focus on interactive student-led learning, while maintaining the cultural relevance of the test-based Korean educational system. Nathan has family in North Korea, so she plans to mentor and tutor North Korean defectors as her host county engagement activity. Upon completion of her Fulbright, Nathan plans to enter the Peace Corps in Mongolia. While at Pitzer, she participated in an exchange with the University of Essex.

Kristen Park ’17, a psychology and Asian American studies double major, was awarded a Fulbright to South Korea to teach English to high school students and North Korean defectors. She aspires to create a classroom that allows students to take ownership of their knowledge and English education.  Outside the classroom, Park will volunteer with a nonprofit that helps resettle North Korean defectors through educational empowerment. In addition, she would like to start a running club for high school students. Park plans to pursue a PhD in education with a focus on equity in higher education.

Lily Peterson ’17, an international and intercultural studies major, was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Malaysia. Drawing on her passion for teaching and her interest in the intersection of education and culture, she plans to create activities that help students engage with English and US culture. Outside the classroom, Peterson will use her background in literature, theater and art to design narrative-based activities for youth. At Pitzer, Peterson served as an admission fellow, a peer-health educator, Student Senator and conducted research with Professor of Creative Studies Albert Wachtel. She studied abroad with the Pitzer in Italy program.

Uriel Rafael ’14, a human biology and psychology double major, received a Fulbright to teach English in Mexico, where he will use a student-centered, culturally relevant pedagogy, based on his bilingual fluency and personal experience as a language learner. Rafael will also volunteer as a mentor and work with a nonprofit organization called Dream in Mexico that helps deported individuals reunite with their families. His future plans include earning a PhD in educational psychology.

Rebecca Rubin ’17, a human biology major and Spanish minor, was awarded a Fulbright to Mexico to teach English. Drawing on her extensive experience with youth as both a teacher and health educator in Latin America, Rubin plans to use project-based lessons to encourage students to learn through collaboration. She also wants to volunteer with an organization that works with Mayan communities to promote economic independence for women while preserving cultural heritage. After her Fulbright year, she hopes to attend medical school.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Victoria Hernandez ’18, an art history major, was awarded a Gilman Scholarship for study abroad in the International Student Exchange Program at Tilburg University in the Netherlands during spring 2017.

International Writing Centers Association Scholarship

Jordan Jenkins ’17 won a 2016 President’s Future Leaders Scholarship from the International Writing Centers Association. Jenkins, who became a Pitzer College Writing Center fellow her sophomore year, was one of only four writing tutors nationwide—and the only undergraduate in the country—to receive the scholarship, which is awarded to peer tutors who are proven leaders at their colleges’ writing centers. Jenkins also won a 2017-18 Student Program Fulbright to teach English in Spain.

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

Victor Bene ’19, an Africana studies and environmental analysis major, was awarded a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. Bene’s research will focus on crafting the first historiography of best practices of survival within House and Ball Culture from 1980 to 1990 in New York City. They plan to utilize an interdisciplinary approach to understand transgender black and brown subjects in their totality.

Kevin Kandamby ’19, a Chicano/a-Latino/a transnational studies major and mathematics minor, was awarded a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. He will research the retention rates of first-generation Latina/o students enrolled in STEM programs at predominately white higher education institutions and examine how these institutions can better retain underrepresented students.

Javier LopezCasertano ’19, an international/intercultural studies and Spanish major, will use his Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship to conduct a qualitative ethnographic investigation that analyzes how Mayan indigenous actors in the central highlands of Guatemala are implementing bilingual, intercultural education by focusing on the historical narratives of the Guatemalan civil war.

Naima OrozcoValdivia ’19, a history major and theater minor, was awarded a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. OrozcoValdivia will conduct an oral history on Plaza de La Raza, a community arts organization and school located in Lincoln Heights, CA, with the goal of identifying the organization’s role as a center for arts and education as well as placing it within the historical context of the Chicano movement in Los Angeles.

Jasmine (Jazzy) Randle ’19, an environmental analysis and sociology major, was awarded a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. Randle will analyze the relationship between social cohesion, social dialogue and social capital in a community garden in Los Angeles, aiming to discern if and how community gardening deconstructs social barriers.

Napier Awards for Creative Leadership

Tiffany Ortamond ’17, an environmental analysis major, was awarded a $15,000 Napier Award for Creative Leadership, which promotes social justice, care of the earth and global peace. She plans to use the award to work with the Tla’amin First Nations tribe in British Columbia to create and implement a water quality testing/education program and contribute to an ongoing database for water analysis. She intends to build a foundation to empower local tribal members and others to collect and log information that can be utilized in building legitimate cases addressing pollution, international development and environmental justice.

Eli Erlick ’17, a feminist, gender, sexuality studies major and sociology minor, was selected as an alternate for the Napier award. Her project proposed to support the Trans Youth Leadership Summit, a unique and innovative Los Angeles-based fellowship program designed to develop the activism and organizing skills of young transgender leaders across the country.

Nick Necochea Flores ’17, a sociology major, was named a 2017 Napier Fellow. A New Resources student and mentor at Pitzer, he served on Pitzer Activities (PAct) as well as the Student Senate Judicial Council. He won a 2017 Campus Impact Award from the Student Senate and a Pitzer Student Leadership Award.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships

Brian Cohn ’15, a computational biology major, was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship that will support his research in computer science at USC, where he is currently pursuing a PhD. Cohn’s research focuses on how musculoskeletal control works across health and disease. Designing models, building prototypes and conducting dissections are all part of the scientific work he uses to help understand neuromuscular phenomena.

Kristin Dobbin ’13, an environmental analysis major, is the recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship that will support her graduate research on the role of special drinking water districts in California water management and water justice. Dobbin served as the regional water management coordinator at Community Water Center, where she worked with unincorporated disadvantaged communities in the Central Valley of California to promote the human right to water. She plans to undertake graduate studies at University of California, Davis.

Lillian Horin ’17, a biology major, received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to help fund her research in graduate school at Harvard University, where she plans to study the relationship between metabolic dysregulation and (epi)genetic regulation. Horin is a first-generation college student from Los Angeles who served as a resident assistant and Writing Center fellow during her time at Pitzer. She also won a 2017 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship.

Samuel “Yoni” Rubin ’15, a physics and molecular biology double major with a minor in chemistry, received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Immunology Program at Stanford University, where his research focuses on cell signaling mechanisms associated with the regulation of self-tolerance, as well as design of novel molecular tools to study these pathways.

National Institutes of Health Fellowship

Alfredo “Freddy” Valencia ’14, who majored in biochemistry at Pitzer and is pursuing his PhD in chemical biology at Harvard University, was awarded a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research. Recipients of this NIH fellowship are mentored by experts in their fields while they conduct dissertation research. The fellowship, which enhances health-related workforce diversity, is awarded to support promising predoctoral students training to become productive, independent research scientists. Valencia’s current research focuses on the biochemical and epigenetic underpinnings of highly aggressive cancers.

Princeton in Latin America

Roberto Figueroa ’17 was awarded a year-long fellowship with Princeton in Latin America (PiLA). PiLA matches partner organizations engaged in socially responsible development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean with highly qualified and motivated recent college graduates. A political science major and Spanish minor, Figueroa will work with Endeavor, an NGO in Santiago, Chile, that supports successful startups and companies in Latin America. At Pitzer, Figueroa served on the Pitzer College Judicial Council as well as the Senior Class Council. He has worked at Morgan Stanley as a sales and trading summer analyst and as a Congressional Intern at the US House of Representatives.

Public Policy & International Affairs Program (PPIA) Fellowship

Sydney Warren ’18, an international political economics major/Chinese minor, was awarded a Public Policy & International Affairs Program (PPIA) summer fellowship. In summer 2017, Warren participated in an intensive seven-week academic program at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. This program prepares undergraduates to be competitive candidates for top degree programs in the fields of public policy, public administration or international affairs. The fellowship includes a $1,500 stipend for the summer program as well as a $5,000 scholarship at a PPIA graduate school.

Teachers for Vietnam 

Sachi Watase ’17 was selected by Teachers for Vietnam (TfV) to teach English at a university in the Mekong Delta. TfV is a nonprofit dedicated to building bridges between Vietnamese and Americans through cultural exchange and university-level language learning. Each year, the program selects four to six teachers certified in Teaching English as a Second Language to hold courses in universities in southwestern Vietnam. A studio art major and mathematics minor, Watase helped found Pitzer Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Pitzer’s Mixed Identity Exchange, an affinity group for students who identify as multiracial, multiethnic or multicultural. She won the Pitzer College Student Senate’s 2017 Campus Impact Award.

–Updated August 9, 2017; originally posted in April 2017.

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