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

Claremont, Calif (Updated June 16, 2020)—In the academic year of 2019-20, Pitzer College students and alumni have been awarded prestigious national and international fellowships — from Fulbright to Watson fellowships. 


Andrea Parry ’23, a political studies and Middle East and North Africa studies double major, has been awarded the Critical Language Scholarship for the study of Arabic in the summer of 2020 in Tangier, Morocco. CLS, a program of the US Department of State, is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Andrea is participating in the CLS Virtual Institute program to develop her Arabic language skills. Andrea aims to work in the field of international affairs focusing on Middle East policy after graduation.


Angel Sherpa ’21, a human biology major on the pre-med track, has been awarded the Davis Projects for Peace Award for her project “Reusable and Eco-friendly Sanitary Pads for Dalit Women in Rural Nepal: Empowering Dalit women through innovation, skill training and awareness.”  Sherpa is interested in global health and health equity. Her plans include working at the intersection of medicine and public health to address and reduce health disparities in underserved communities. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this program was canceled for this summer. Sherpa plans to apply again next year.


Deve Mehta ’20, a public health: sexual and reproductive health major/anthropology minor, is a recipient of the Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship. Mehta was one of nine awardees this year out of 526 applicants. The Payne Fellowship seeks to attract outstanding young people who are interested in pursuing careers in the foreign service of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Fellowship provides up to $93,000 in benefits over two years for graduate school, internships and professional development activities and provides a unique pathway to the USAID Foreign Service. Mehta is a first-generation college student, as well as a Gates Millennium Scholar at Pitzer.


Natalie Armstrong ’20, an environmental analysis major/geology minor, has been awarded a Fulbright to Greenland, where she will teach English. She hopes to build upon her experience of studying in the Arctic to utilize a collaborative and engaging teaching pedagogy that will include storytelling, play reading and writing to create an all-inclusive classroom. Outside the classroom, Armstrong would like to work with the Arctic Youth Network to connect students with different backgrounds. She plans to pursue a PhD in environmental studies and a JD in environmental law.

Kai Bidell ’20, an environmental analysis major, is the recipient of a Fulbright Nehru award to India to research if India’s 2% bill will help the world achieve 100% sustainability. He plans to explore why environmental sustainability seems to be de-prioritized compared with other categories for investment specified in the 2% bill. To engage with the community, Bidell plans to volunteer for the Youngistaan Foundation, working on the Bright Spark Education Program to motivate young children to stay in school. In the future, Bidell would like to work in the sustainability department of a large corporation and eventually earn an MBA.

Haley Burger ’20, a biochemistry major, has received a Fulbright Fellowship to Nepal to teach English. Burger plans to use the pedagogy of learning language through stories as it is both reciprocal and collaborative in nature. Her community engagement will consist of connecting with local community health workers to explore my interests in public health issues from the Nepali perspective. Burger’s future plans include attending graduate school in the field of environmental public health research.

Priscilla Cobian ’16, a sociology/Spanish major and Chicano studies minor, has been awarded a Fulbright to Mexico to teach English. For the past two years, Cobian worked as a residence director and diversity and inclusion coordinator at Pitzer. As an ETA instructor, she hopes to help build a community within the classroom so that students feel comfortable and lose the fear often associated with learning a new language. One activity for her community engagement would be to join a dance class of ballet folklórico or the local, regional dances. Cobian plans to attend graduate school in education and continue to work with first-generation college students.

Eliana Cowan ’20, a human biology major, is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Nepal to research maternal mental health that will focus on the mental healthcare gap emerging from the transition occurring in the healthcare system and evaluate maternal mental health in Jumla, Nepal. Community engagement will integrate Cowan’s love of art, nature and medicinal plants to engage in conversations on these topics and discuss local plant knowledge. Upon returning to the US, she plans to study naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University. In addition, Cowan intends to pursue a PhD in medical anthropology.

August Kahn ’20, a religious studies major, has received a Fulbright to Germany to teach English, where he hopes to be considered for the diversity program and use English education as a way to enhance connections of refugees to Europe while avoiding systems of assimilation. In a mixed class of German-born students and refugees, he will make English learning a point of encounter not only within the classroom but as a window of exposure to ideas beyond the context of the class. Outside the classroom, Kahn will work with local activists and educators with the hope of starting an afterschool program for Muslim and Jewish secondary school students. Upon returning to the US, he will continue his involvement with Muslim-Jewish solidarity and use his experience in Germany to understand a global context for this relationship. He hopes to enroll in rabbinical school and continue working in the area of interfaith activism.

Esme Kline ’19, an organismal biology major, is a recipient of a Fulbright to do research in Panama where she will be investigating historic drivers of coral reef decline in Bocas del Toro. Kline’s research will involve three phases: physical collection of coral cores; extraction of skeletal material for geochemical analyses and development of growth chronologies and analyses of results. To complement her research and for community engagement, she plans to work with the mentorship program “Mujeres del Océano” or Women of the Ocean that aims to empower local girls to become more comfortable in the ocean and deepen their connection with the ocean through activities such as surfing, snorkeling and beach cleanups. Her future plans are to pursue a PhD in marine ecosystems and society. 

Megan Schmiesing ’20, an environmental analysis major/Spanish minor, has been awarded a Fulbright to Spain to teach English where she will utilize her previous ESL experience to instill a sense of curiosity and mutual respect for cross-cultural learning in classrooms in Spain. For community engagement, she wishes to join a church choir since music is one of the best bridges between people. Thus she hopes to create deeper connections within the community and immerse herself culturally while also sharing her passion for music. Her future plans include obtaining a law degree.

Emily Sender ’20, an American studies major and Spanish minor, is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to teach English in Mexico. Drawing upon previous experiences in Mexico including research for her senior thesis focused on deportees and returnee migrants in Mexico, Emily hopes to continue to engage in the complex relationship between the United States and Mexico. Outside the classroom, Emily desires to work with migrant communities and to engage in meaningful relationships with students and community members. 

Simone Wolynski ’20, an Africana studies and Spanish double major, has been awarded a Fulbright to Colombia to teach English where she will take part in Colombia’s commitment to schooling as an English teacher instructing future educators. Teaching in Colombia interests Wolynski, especially with the implementation of the history-making reparations program that incorporates educational assistance measures at its core. Community engagement will consist of engaging with communities who create art as an act of resistance which she has witnessed happen throughout the African diaspora. Wolynski’s future plans include pursuing a JD, focusing on environmental justice policy to better race relations, environmental health and educational access.


Benjamin Sievers 22, majoring in biochemistry and philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE), has been awarded the Global Health Award for developing a simple, inexpensive and non-invasive method to diagnose sickle cell disease and malaria using a cellphone and specialized machine-learning software. Ben is passionate about deploying nimble technological solutions to address intractable challenges—particularly for those with limited resources. Brandon Apodaca, Harvey Mudd ’21, is Ben’s collaborator, and they plan to finish the prototype by early June. Ben and Brandon have established a company named B-squared to manufacture handheld medical devices for developing nations.


Angel Sherpa ’21, a human biology major, has been accepted to the Health Research Training Program (HRTP) with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for Summer 2020. The program will enable Angel to gain valuable, real-life experience in public health research and practice in New York City. She plans a career in global health and health equity.


Matthew Brunstad ’20, an economics and planetary geology major, is the recipient of a JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) award to teach English in Japan. The program aims to promote internationalization in Japan’s local communities by helping to improve foreign language education and developing international exchange at the community level.


Sam Neufeld ’19, an international relations major, is the recipient of an International Innovation Corps Fellowship in India sponsored by UChicago. As a fellow with the International Innovation Corps (IIC), he is working in Delhi, India as a strategy and public policy consultant for a philanthropic foundation as well as assisting a team embedded in the Indian Ministry of Health with initiatives related to COVID-19. Ultimately, Sam aims to pursue a career at the intersection of the development sector and the startup world, working on novel solutions to persistent socio-economic challenges.


Dejah Taylor

Dejah Taylor ’20, an Africana Studies major/Chemistry minor, has been awarded MTR’s (Memphis Teaching Residency) Marjorie Lee Browne STEM Education Fellowship, where she will be mentoring and teaching rising 7th-grade students math during summer 2020. In the future, Dejah’s plans include participating in the Teach for America Corps beginning in 2021, where she will teach chemistry at an economically disadvantaged school. After Teach for America, Dejah’s plans are to attend graduate school, working her way up to becoming an organic chemistry professor.


Sophie Basseches ’20 is a sociology and gender studies major. Basseches’ concern about the large number of girls considered at-risk victims of neglect and abuse in Israel informed her proposal to implement a project that explores the root causes of violence against young women of all backgrounds, and to see how the regional political situation relates to problems that exist for young women.

Carla Condori Bazan ’20 is a Latin American studies and Spanish major. Bazan’s proposal is to create women’s cooperatives for sorority, alternative economics, fair trade and community healing within the immigrant and undocumented community in Mexico City with the goal to develop at least two migrant women cooperatives and safe spaces for healing in Mexico City.

Micah Sallus ’20 is a psychology major. While participating in the Pitzer in Nepal program, Sallus learned that suicide is a massive problem in Nepal. With a strong background in mental health issues, Sallus proposed to develop a major conference in Nepal where medical professionals, NGOs staff and patients struggling with suicide could come together to communicate ways of addressing this major problem.


Julian Cohen ’21, a biophysics major, is the recipient of a New Harvest Seed Grant to conduct his own bio-engineering research project on cultured meat at Tufts University during summer of 2020. New Harvest is a non-profit organization dedicated to enabling and funding scientific and technological advances in cellular agriculture, particularly in academia. Julian’s project is an attempt to use tissue engineering techniques to create cultured beef, otherwise known as “lab grown” beef. In the future, he hopes to pursue a career centered around using cellular agriculture and synthetic biology to help transition food systems away from intensive animal agriculture and toward a more humane and sustainable method of food production.

Project AHEAD (Asian American Health Education and Development)

Angel Sherpa ’21, a human biology major, has been selected for a nine-week summer internship program with Project AHEAD (Asian American Health Education and Development). Every summer, six to 10 applicants are chosen to work with the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in Manhattan, NY, to give training and experience to college students who have an interest in pursuing a career in healthcare. Sherpa’s interest in global health and health equity makes her uniquely qualified to receive this award.


Izzy Manson ’20, a studio art major/art history minor, has been awarded a TJ Watson Fellowship where she will create a series of documentary photographs that explore the global movement of people who are deciding to move “off-the-grid” and learn why people are deliberately foregoing modern-day conveniences, moving from cities and even other countries, to live off the land and back to nature. Are their motivations political, environmental, financial or personal? The countries she will visit are: Panama, Australia, Canada, Sweden and Spain.

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