2020 - 2021 Fellows
Amna Ahmed is a student in the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program where she studies Political Science and Human Resource Management. On campus, she serves as the Muslim Public Relations Council President as well as SAS Senator in the Rutgers University Student Assembly. Amna is also an Institute for Women’s Leadership Scholar. Outside of Rutgers, Amna is a volunteer for Helping Hand for Relief and Development where she received the opportunity to travel to Jordan on a humanitarian trip. As a community organizer, she is involved with local campaigns such as Defend Lincoln Annex who are fighting against the displacement of students to a warehouse. During her free time, Amna enjoys editing videos from her travels. Amna hopes to study abroad before attending law school in order to further develop her interests in international development.
- Research Topic: Gendered Household Dynamic Amongst Refugees
Sunzida Ahmed is a student in the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Environmental Studies. On campus, Sunzida is a member of the Rutgers University Mock Trial Association, where she competes across the country to gain valuable trial advocacy skills. When she’s not pretending to be a lawyer in mock trials, Sunzida tutors for Upward Bound, a program dedicated to giving first-generation low-income high school students a path to higher education. Along with being a tutor, Sunzida is the Events Coordinator for the Bonner Leadership Program where she promotes service-learning through civic engagement in the city of New Brunswick.She has a passion for icebreakers and conversation-starters, likely kindled from her two years working with incoming students for Rutgers New Student Orientation. After college, Sunzida hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in environmental law, advocating for environmental justice in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. In her free time, Sunzida loves to paint, make crème brûlées, and pamper her pet hamster.
- Research Topic: The Prosecutorial Discretion of Environmental Crime
Declan Alvidrez is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, double majoring in political science and philosophy. He is currently a research assistant for Professor R. Daniel Kelemen, conducting research on the efficacy and development of the European Court of Justice. He captains the Club Ultimate Frisbee team and is currently developing a social-justice-minded media platform with his friends, including Gardner Fellow Marc Younker. Previously, Declan served in the Rutgers University Student Assembly and as an SAS Honors Program Ambassador program. In his free time, Declan enjoys sports, cooking, music, and the outdoors. After college he aspires to a career in public service and community activism.
Nimah Bhura is a Political Science and Economics major at the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program. Nimah recently completed an internship with the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters where she researched legislation on environmental policy and specifically the relationship between air quality, healthcare standards, and sustainable housing. Her research interests focus on learning about the intersection between democracy and economic growth, healthcare law, and environmental policy. Besides her academic interests, she is an avid matcha-lover and will take an opportunity to try new food
- Research Topic: Anti-Muslim Sentiment: The Czech Republic and India
Akansha Khurana is a rising junior in the Honors College, majoring in Economics and Psychology. Her interests in public service stemmed from her participation in the Petey Greene program, a volunteer program dedicated to reducing recidivism rates for incarcerated individuals by providing them with tutoring sessions. As an aspiring lawyer, her main interests lie in prison reform and international human rights. Currently, Akansha is an inaugural member of the Rutgers Advocacy Corps and the GROW coordinator for GlobeMed at Rutgers, a student run non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about local and global health issues. As the GROW coordinator, next summer she will be going to Kampala, Uganda to work with GlobeMed’s partner organization, Reach a Hand Uganda. Outside of her studies she enjoys drinking coffee, playing chess, and experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes. Akansha is very excited to participate in the Lloyd C. Gardner Fellowship and cultivate valuable leadership skills for her prospective career in public service.
- Research Topic: The Effect of Perceived Polarization on Voter Turnout
Garrett Knappe is an Honors College student majoring in Mathematics and Economics. At Rutgers, Garrett works at the computer labs on Busch campus, currently training towards becoming a supervisor. He also volunteers his time as a tutor for the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program Peer Tutoring, where he tutors in intro-level math and economics courses. For the approaching academic year, Garrett will be a research assistant with the Aresty Research Center, working under Professor Hochman to assess the economic efficacy of bioenergy carbon capture storage technologies. He will also be working as a Learning Assistant for Intermediate Microeconomics, providing extra instruction for students in the class. Garrett is passionate about economics and plans on pursuing his Ph.D. after finishing his undergraduate studies at Rutgers. He hopes to work at the Federal Reserve during his career. In his free time, Garrett enjoys reading and hiking.
Monika Lucic is a student in the School of Arts and Sciences ‘22, majoring in Biological Science and minoring in Creative Writing. At Rutgers, she has been on the Dean’s list every semester since enrollment, and has recently joined her sorority chapter Phi Sigma Sigma and is excited to become a more active member and hold leadership positions in upcoming semesters. Her passion for medicine and desire to help people led to her volunteering at a hospital, shadowing and working under a female breast cancer surgeon that inspired Monika with her close connections to her patients and drive to provide the best care possible. In the future, Monika hopes to integrate her love for science and creative writing by applying both to her aspiring career as a lawyer. She plans to meld the different fields to create a new perspective in the law. She also aims to advocate for women's rights in the workplace in addition to women's health, and her dream is to incorporate that passion into her work as well.
Ameena Qobrtay ('21) is a School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program student majoring in Journalism and Women's and Gender Studies with a minor in Political Science. Ameena is the Features Editor at the Daily Targum, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories about pop culture and fun on-campus events. She is also the Lead Editor at Muslim.co, a millennial and Gen-Z publication for the Muslim youth, where she assigns, edits, and collaborates with young Muslims across the world in a celebration of their identities. Outside of editing, Ameena is a Research Assistant for Professor Naomi Klein, studying Big Tech, social media, and applying that information to our understanding of current affairs. In her free time, Ameena enjoys dismantling the patriarchy, arguing about which horoscopes a given TV character is, and reading extensively.
Aparna Ragupathi is a junior double majoring in Biology and Journalism & Media Studies, with a minor in Spanish. As part of the 4+4 Program in Global Health, Aparna will be attending Robert Wood Johnson Medical School after graduating. On a normal day, you can find her interviewing researchers as a health correspondent at the Daily Targum or serving as a medical interpreter at the Eric B. Chandler Health Center in New Brunswick. While in quarantine, Aparna is most often in lab meetings or organizing Zoom hangouts as President of the Honors College Student Advisory Board. This past summer, she interned at the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research to learn more about public health systems. Inspired by New Brunswick and a handful of Rutgers professors, Aparna decided to apply to the Gardner Fellowship to study the decisions that go into supporting the well being of all people. She aspires to be a clear communicator and an informed leader in her fields. In her free time, Aparna enjoys writing letters, crafting, and staying active.
- Research Topic: Understanding Price Transparency as Healthcare Pricing Reform
Cecilia Ritacco is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program studying Political Science with minors in Women’s and Gender Studies and American Studies. She is a 2020 recipient of the Rutgers-Eagleton Washington Internship Award, as well as the Katherine K. Neuberger Award. Cecilia’s academic interests lie in political representation, gender, and generational trends in civic engagement and political participation. On campus, she is a research assistant working on the Young Elected Leaders Project under the direction of Professor Matto, and also leads the Rutgers University Democrats, the university’s largest partisan political organization. She has been involved at the Eagleton Institute of Politics since 2018, where she has interned, volunteered, and represented the institute’s Center for Youth Political Participation at Harvard University’s National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement. Throughout her time as an undergraduate, Cecilia has played a lead role in implementing nonpartisan civic engagement initiatives and has taught civic engagement workshops to high school students. She has also interned for New Brunswick City Government in the mayor’s office, organized on Democratic political campaigns throughout New Jersey, and worked as a constituent services intern in the Office of Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05). Most recently, she was afforded the opportunity to intern at the Feminist Majority Foundation, where she engaged in national digital organizing and coalition-building efforts and conducted candidate research to inform the organization’s endorsement process. She is passionate about electing more women to public office and exploring women’s roles as candidates, voters, and officeholders. After earning her B.A., she hopes to pursue her Ph.D. in Political Science with a focus on gender and American politics.
Madison Roveda is an SAS Honors program student majoring in Geography and possibly Environmental Studies here at Rutgers. She is passionate about environmental concerns such as climate change, in addition to the study of human geography. Her original plans for college were to major in Biology with a minor in Spanish and was hoping to become a Physician Assistant, with a set career in the medical field, until she took an environmental studies class. The crucial decision Madison made her freshman year to switch to geography has brought her to this fellowship. At Rutgers, she works as a student laboratory assistant at RUCDR Infinite Biologics. As a result of her passion for environmental issues she became an intern for NJPIRG, a non-profit organization that works to create political change. Once graduating, she plans to work in environmental management or community development and travel frequently.
- Research Topic: Vertical Farming and US Agriculture Climate Resilience
Nikhil Sadaranganey, School of Arts and Sciences ’22, is Political Science major with minors in Economics and Philosophy. Nikhil was first introduced to policy through competing on his high school’s Model United Nations team. That experience sparked his interest in politics and led him to participate in programs such as American Legion Boy’s State and the Center for Civic Education’s We the People program. Since coming to Rutgers, Nikhil has gotten involved with a number of student organizations, including serving as the Vice President of Events for Phi Chi Theta (a business fraternity), representing students in the Rutgers University Student Assembly, serving as the Director of Staff for Philadelphia Model United Nations 2021 through the Institute for Domestic and International Affairs, and co-founding Rutgers Tamasha, the university’s only non-competitive, co-educational Bollywood dance team. Following his freshman year, Nikhil served as a research assistant for Professor Mason Ameri, who investigates discriminatory hiring practices in corporate America, and worked for the Rutgers University Foundation, where he helped the foundation tailor its outreach to Millennial and Gen Z students and alumni. This summer, Nikhil has spent his time volunteering on the Congressional campaigns of Rep. Andy Kim and Dr. Arati Kreibich, interning with Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, and advocating for increased higher education funding in the inaugural cohort of the Rutgers Advocacy Corps. Nikhil is excited to be a part of the Gardner Fellowship Program and hopes to use his experience from the program and at Rutgers to one day work in government and eventually serve in public office.
Neha Saju, School of Arts & Sciences Honors Program ’22, is doing the Joint Major in History and Political Science. She is minoring in French as well as Women’s and Gender Studies. Neha is a Leadership Scholar with the Institute of Women’s Leadership, where she is earning a certificate in Women’s Leadership. Previously an intern with the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Neha is currently interning with the Center for Youth Political Participation (CYPP). She was part of the team which designed the RU Voting National Microsite, a national initiative put forward by the Eagleton Institute of Politics meant to disseminate accurate and specific election information. Currently, she is an Aresty Research Assistant for Dr. Beth C. Rubin for “The Civically Engaged Districts Project”. A columnist for The Daily Targum Newspaper, Neha writes about education equity, women’s rights, and race issues. Neha is dedicated to service work and has done work with the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service, Rutgers University Alternative Breaks, as well as Youth Empowerment Services. A lover of fantasy novels and language learning, Neha hopes to study law after graduating.
Hamzah Shaikh is an Honors College student studying Cell Biology and Neuroscience and Political Science. Hamzah’s interest in policy and public service increased after serving as a Student Representative to the Holmdel Board of Education, where he saw the transformative nature politics can have on people’s lives. Hamzah was also inspired to pursue politics as a New Jersey Governor’s STEM scholar. Through this program, Hamzah met with scientists throughout the state and learned the important role they play in shaping public policy. In the future, Hamzah is interested in pursuing a career in both medicine and healthcare policy. Hamzah is also interested in furthering medicine through research. In the past he was a Waksman Student Scholar and Emperor Science Award recipient. At Rutgers, Hamzah has received the Aresty Fellowship for his research at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, where he studied the combinational therapy of mutant p53 reactivators and CDK inhibitors on cancer cell growth and viability. He is an Axelrod Clinical Research Scholar at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician at the Holmdel First Aid Squad. Hamzah also serves as a Resident Assistant and is a volunteer tutor at the Rutgers Learning Center. In his free time, Hamzah loves to be outdoors, especially cycling between campuses or running at local parks and trails.
Yosan Siele, School of Arts & Sciences ‘22, is an Economics and Political studies double major. She is Vice President of Finance for the Rutgers University Mock Trial Association. Past the financial aspects of the organization, Yosan regularly competes around the country with other universities’ mock trial teams by reviewing a case packet, formulating arguments, and finally arguing the case before judges. Yosan is passionate about politics and has worked on different campaigns. She worked on Governor Phil Murphy’s Victory ‘17 campaign where she learned important aspects of a campaign such as cutting turf, talking with voters, and training volunteers. Yosan also interned with her congressman Tom Malinowski’s re-election campaign in New Jersey’s 7th congressional district. Through the internship, Yosan worked wholly with different aspects of the campaign including field organizing, finance, and social media outreach. Yosan is a proud Eritrean immigrant and regularly connects with the Eritrean community through church events and festivals. Yosan plans to work in the financial sector following graduating and eventually enrolling in law school. Following law school, Yosan plans to work as an immigration attorney, specifically focusing on human rights.
Samarth Thakker is an Honors Program student double majoring in Economics & Finance with a minor in Political Science. He regularly competes around the country with the Rutgers Mock Trial Team. Samarth is currently interning at the U.S Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, and hopes to attend law school after graduating from Rutgers. He is passionate about pursuing a legal career within the financial services industry. In his free time, Samarth likes to play basketball, read interesting books, go for a run, and try new food.
Marc Younker is currently a junior double majoring in Political Science and Labor Studies, and minoring in Critical Intelligence Studies. On campus, Marc serves in numerous positions such as the Vice President of the Rutgers chapter of the Black Law Students Association and representing the Rutgers Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a Scarlet Ambassador. Marc serves as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Association of Big Ten Students where he represents the interests of Rutgers University and the other 500,000 students in the Big Ten conference amongst legislators, key stakeholders and advocacy groups. Marc Younker most recently interned for the Political Team on the Cory Booker for President campaign. Prior to interning at Cory 2020, Marc interned in the office of Senator Cory Booker through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on Capitol Hill. He also interned for Angela Rye Impact Strategies doing research and consulting on policies for both Angela Rye and Impact Strategies clients. In addition, Marc is a scholar at the Institute for Responsible Citizenship. After completing undergrad, Marc plans on attending law school and using the skills he gained in undergrad and law school to combat inequity by expanding access to justice.