2021 Grove Fellowship Cohorts

Elliot David’s Cohort

Jack Graziano is a sophomore in the Macaulay Honors College, majoring in Environmental Studies and Chinese Language and Literature. Jack’s passions include environmentalism, reading, and traveling. Jack has experience working with clean water action groups on Long Island such as NY02 Democrats, and currently works in a chemistry lab that aims to find new and innovative techniques for purifying water. In the future, he hopes to work internationally to help China and the United States come to conclusions on how to mitigate climate change.

Rahima Khatun is a Roosevelt Scholar and Thomas Hunter Honors Scholar studying Political Science with concentrations in International Relations and Human Rights. She has completed various internships pertaining to public policy, women’s initiatives, poverty alleviation, and Global South development. She looks forward to pursuing a career in either public service or human rights law in order to assist those most disadvantaged in society.

Say Sánchez is a senior majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies with a policy and management concentration. A DACA recipient from Mexico, she is a strong advocate for immigrant rights and social equity. With experience as an environmental educator, she is also passionate about making the environmental sector a more inclusive space and increasing accessibility to environmental education. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in Environmental Policy/Climate Science, and contribute to effective science-to-policy communication.

Fiona Crisp is a Macaulay Honors College senior double majoring in urban studies and environmental studies with a concentration in environmental management and policy. Fiona plans on pursuing a career in policy to address climate change while advocating for environmental equity. In her professional life, Fiona has interned for Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and State Senator Brad Hoylman.

Cloé Mueller is a Thomas Hunter Honors student double majoring in Environmental Studies and Economics. After graduating from Hunter College in Fall 2021, she hopes to earn a Master’s in environmental policy and then go to law school. Cloé plans to become an environmental lawyer and fight for communities that disproportionately suffer from environmental degradation caused by large corporations and government. 

Margaret Egan’s Cohort

Mario Altamirano Jr. is a Junior at Hunter College double- majoring in Political Science and Chinese Language and Literature. He has previously interned at The Door: Legal Service Center, the Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Project, and for a State Assembly Member. Mario has devoted his time to public service and wishes to continue advocating for underrepresented communities, especially the Asian and Latinx communities. 

Rafael Garcia is a sophomore and a Macaulay Honors Scholar majoring in Political Science and pursuing the Public Policy Certificate with minors in Economics and Human Rights. Outside the classroom, Rafael represents fellow students as Residence Life Commissioner on Hunter’s Student Government. He has hopes of becoming a civil rights attorney to advocate for people in New York’s marginalized communities. Rafael loves to travel in his free time and learn about different cultures.

Chantal Polinsky is a junior in the Macaulay Honors program class of 2022, majoring in psychology and pursuing a certificate in Human Rights. She is passionate about homelessness, racial justice, and sustainability. Chantal has interned with housing providers and advocacy groups for low-income communities. She is hoping to pursue a career in human rights advocacy and civil rights law. 

Jada Shannon is a sophomore double majoring in Media Studies with a concentration in Journalism and Gender Studies. Currently, a community organizer for racial and gender justice, she seeks to address the needs of her community through her writing and public policy. In addition, she serves as an opinion writer for the student-run Envoy Newspaper.

Luisais Taveras is a third-year student and Thomas Hunter Honors Scholar, pursuing a major in Clinical Psychology, double minor in Women & Gender Studies and Human Rights, and a mini concentration in Japanese culture. Luisais’s investment in human connections, pursue of new experiences, and intention to become a humanitarian aid worker have inspired her to become a LCSW in the near future with a focus on restoring and maintaining the rights of others and their accessibility to mental health resources.

Melva Miller’s Cohort

Olenka Ballena is a junior and Macaulay Honors Scholar studying English Literature and Legal Studies and pursuing a Public Policy Certificate with a focus on media policy. She is passionate about exploring the diverse ways in which policy can be used to advocate for underserved communities, which led her to her previous internship with a pro-bono legal team helping asylum seekers. She plans on pursuing a J.D. to further protect targeted and underrepresented communities.

Yostina Girgis is a Thomas Hunter Honors scholar studying Biology and pursuing a Human Rights Certificate. She is interested in how human rights can be translated into effective public policy. Upon graduating in 2023, she intends on completing a master’s in Public Health and working to create solutions for public hospitals in marginalized communities. She looks forward to a future rooted in human rights advocacy and advancing racial equity in medicine.

Onyekachi Okeke is a Junior at Hunter College graduating in Fall 2021. Majoring in Human Biology, she seeks to become a nurse to fulfill her passion for advocating for and representing underserved communities in the health field. Passionate about politics and transformative justice, she is a poll worker, the Membership and Outreach Chairperson of the Black Student Union of CUNY and is part of the Mock Trial Society. She looks forward to using her knowledge and experience to fight for equitable and quality health care for all New Yorkers, regardless of color or socioeconomic status.

Filippo Vanni is a Roosevelt Scholar majoring in Political Science with a minor in French Literature. He is on the Hunter Fencing team and was a fellow at the office of state senator Andrew Gounardes for the majority of 2020. His lifelong ambition is to become a public servant, perhaps as an elected official. In his spare time, he is doing volunteer work with the activist legislative campaign for an ECRB (Elected Civilian Review Board)

Jessica Neuwirth, Carol Jenkins, and
Yeen Lama’s Cohort

Zaineb Ahmad is a junior in the Macaulay Honors Program at Hunter College. She is a Social Work major completing a Public Policy Certificate and a double minor in Psychology and Sociology. She is a member of the eBoard of CMMB X Hunter, advocating for accessible healthcare for women and children in impoverished communities. She is also Kenan Scholar, a Project Happy volunteer, and has taught at multiple daycare programs. She hopes to gain her LCSW and work with children and families in a clinical setting.

Sara Macwan is a Thomas Hunter Honors student double majoring in Political Science and Gender Studies with a certification in Human Rights. Upon graduating from Hunter in 2023, Sara hopes to serve the youth and underrepresented groups as much as she can. She intends to pursue a J.D. and participate in work that most directly promotes justice and equality for law. Later down the line, she wants to become a professor.

Trina Sultan is an Athena scholar, and a Thomas Hunter Honors scholar double majoring in Political Science and Media Studies. Trina currently works as a paralegal and deals with women’s reproductive rights as she advocates for mothers and women who have been harmed by the actions of cyrobanks. Following graduation in the spring of 2022, Trina plans on attending law school to become a skilled advocate for social justice and humans rights causes.

Priya Singh is a Macaulay Honors Scholar, a Goldsmith Scholar, and the CMMB x Hunter President. She is a junior majoring in Human Biology with a minor in Psychology. After an internship at CMMB, she realized the importance of helping women and children in communities where healthcare is lacking, and started a club at Hunter to spread awareness about these issues. She hopes to tackle systemic healthcare issues to provide proper healthcare for all in the future.

Miesha Smith’s Cohort

Neranjan de Silva is a Biochemistry major at Hunter, a former US Military veteran and an avid outdoorsman. He has been a published research scientist at both the NIH and Weill Cornell Medicine with a focus in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer. As an active participant in the field of veterans’ affairs, he hopes to address the healthcare disparities of our military veterans with a strong focus in PTSD. As a minority student himself, he has been a board member and an active participant with PRiMES (Program for Individualized Mentorship Education Solutions), a program centered around mentorship – facilitating underrepresented minority students with entrance to medical school. He will be applying for MD-PhD programs in the upcoming year with the intension of pursuing a career in Research and Public Health.

Angelica Fernandez is a senior at Hunter College graduating in the Spring of 2021. She is a Political Science major and is enrolled in the Roosevelt House public policy certificate program. She has previously interned with the New York Public Research Interest Group (NYPIRG), and lead a project on Hunger and Homelessness in NYC. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school to focus on educational advocacy and policy. Her career goal is to be an advocate for the public and address the growing issues of systemic inequalities within the American education system. 

Ismerlyn Gonzalez is an Athena Scholar majoring in Sociology with a minor in Public Policy. Interested in education policy, Ismerlyn recently interned for MDRC, where she learned how randomized controlled trials were used to evaluate community college efforts to boost graduation rates. Upon graduation in Spring 2021, Ismerlyn aims to work towards becoming an education policy analyst or researcher to better serve the disadvantaged youth populations within New York City.

Ishrat Jahan is a sophomore and Cooperman Fellow at Hunter College. She is a Human Biology major with a focus on Mind, Body, and Health. This past Fall she interned with uAspire, an education advocacy organization, to fight for changes in higher education affordability and equity. In the future, Ishrat hopes to pursue a career in public policy and healthcare to better serve at risk communities.

Sanzida Mohsin, Class of 2023, is a Roosevelt Scholar majoring in Media Studies with a concentration in Journalism. She is also minoring in Political Science and completing a certificate in Human Rights. Sanzida is passionate about community engagement and has worked with the ACLU in Mississippi on a service trip last January alongside other volunteer projects. She aspires to work in a career based on helping others and also dreams of opening her own bakery.