THE 2021 WLP SCHOLARS
Department of Homeland Security
Haadiya Ahmed is a rising junior at the Johns Hopkins University studying International Studies and Public Health Studies. She is a proud Muslim, Pakistani woman born and raised in Northern Virginia. Haadiya is passionate about community-centered development and community integration in civic and social change processes. On campus, Haadiya leads Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives through which she strives to empower and elevate the experiences of students of color at her university. She also works closely with the Johns Hopkins Orientation and Admissions Departments to cultivate a welcoming, enriching college experience for first-generation students like herself. Following her undergraduate education, Haadiya is pursuing a Masters in International Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies where she will advance her research interests in immigration and asylum policy.
Department of Commerce
Zainub Ali (she/her) is a rising junior from Athens, Georgia, where she attends the University of Georgia and studies International Affairs and Economics. Through the UGA Honors Program, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, and the Security Leadership Program, Zainub has focused her research on U.S. foreign policy -- specifically, ethnic border conflict, counterterrorism, and natural resource exploitation. She is also a campus ambassador for the Arch Society and a member of the Student Government Association. After graduation, she hopes to continue her research on conflict resolution in the Middle East and South Asia to inform policy creation and implementation for the federal government.
House Committee on Homeland Security
Aidan Arasasingham (he/him) is a graduating Global Studies major at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) passionate about multilateralism and coalition-building. His academic research focuses on globalization, public diplomacy, and soft power. Aidan serves as President of the University of California Student Association — representing an alliance of over 285,000 students across nine campuses to state and federal decision-makers. Under his leadership, he expanded UCSA’s federal lobbying efforts, directed statewide campaigns for equitable funding and racial justice, and negotiated to triple the association’s budget. The son of Sri Lankan immigrants, Aidan is excited to join the WLP family and hopes to pursue a career in international law and foreign affairs.
Ruchita Coomar is a rising sophomore at The University of Michigan, double majoring in Political Science and Economics. Previously, she has served as a research assistant studying the impact of policy on the psycho-social sense of belonging on refugees. She currently works as a researcher for the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, the leading source of civil rights casework accessible to scholars, teachers, students, policymakers, advocates, and the public. Within her hometown of Monroe, Michigan, Ruchita has worked as a community organizer and founder of Monroe Area Youth Alliance, a youth organization dedicated to uplifting marginalized voices. On campus, she is involved in the Michigan Journal of International Affairs and the Michigan Refugee Assistance Program. Ruchita is interested in exploring how fiscal policy can be used to remediate injustices and provide equitable solutions for systemically marginalized communities.
Department of Labor
Manushri Desai (she/her) is from Las Vegas, NV and is a junior at the University of Southern California where she is studying Public Policy and Health Care Studies. On campus she started two policy publications through her role as Executive Director for a national student-run think tank, Roosevelt Network, and as Vice President of Development for a student-run 501(c)(3) organization, Project RISHI. As a policy enthusiast and disability justice advocate, Manushri has worked with the United Nations, TEDxUSC, and Voice of Specially Abled People to leverage her unique academic background, address the intersectional inequities faced by Persons with Disabilities (PWD), and ideate practical policy solutions that reaffirm the social model of disability. Manushri hopes to pursue a JD/MPH to study disability policy through a public health lens while developing specialized legal skills in preparation for a career in disability law.
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08)
Joven Hundal (he/him) is from Turlock, California and is a rising junior at Stanford University, where he is majoring in Public Policy. He was born and raised in the Central Valley to parents who immigrated from Punjab. He is interested in issues that disproportionately affect people of color and younger Americans, and has previously worked for Rep. Josh Harder (CA-10). He hopes to one day attend law school and work to uplift his South Asian and Central Valley communities. Otherwise, he enjoys basketball, music and television shows, and is excited to join the WLP family and further develop his passion for public service.
NOAA, Office of the Chief Economist
Eshika Kaul is an Economics and Peace & Justice Studies major at Wellesley. In college, she works to increase partnerships with local nonprofits as a Ministrare Coordinator, advises the Academic Council on new policies as an Appointed Representative, and researches the effect of household income on manifestations of childhood trauma as a Wellesley Centers for Women fellow. Eshika is also passionate about advocating for her community, and has developed programs supporting mental health and diversity in her hometown. She has worked closely with PROP to advance police reform in NYC and the Akanksha Fund to support education for low-income children in India. In the future, Eshika aspires to combine evidence-based strategies with hands-on advocacy to develop better policies for marginalized communities.
Department of Commerce
Riya Mehta is a current junior at the University of Southern California studying History with minors in Business and Applied Analytics. She uses her unique combination of studies to understand politics from a historical, economic, and data-driven perspective. Riya is passionate about championing policy and change that amplifies the voices of marginalized communities. On campus, she undertakes this as the President of Lean In USC, an organization dedicated to encouraging women to *lean in* to their full potential, and as part of VoteSC, an organization committed to increasing civic engagement. Off campus, she promotes change by working on campaigns for progressive candidates and as an intern for her Congresswoman’s office. After graduation, she intends to attend law school to strengthen her efforts to serve the American people as a public advocate.
USAID, Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance
Karthik Nagappan (he/him/his) is a rising senior at the University of Michigan pursuing a dual-degree in Biomolecular Science and Business Administration with a potential minor in Public Policy or Political Science. Karthik is interested in how the government can harness cross-sector relationships to yield positive outcomes for vulnerable communities, particularly in regards to health care. He has extensive experience leading a student-run nonprofit that has redistributed over $3M in medical supplies, managing the life sciences arm of a $500K impact investment fund, and researching the effect of racial bias on health care reform, among other efforts. Passionate about public service and student advocacy, Karthik has represented health science students on a university-wide curriculum committee, has worked on national campaigns, and is establishing student civic engagement initiatives on campus.
Department of Education
Shivam Patel is a rising senior at San Jose State University majoring in Business Management Information Systems and minoring in Public Policy. He is actively involved on campus and in his community. During the 2020 election cycle, he served as the Communications Co-Chair for South Asians for Biden, a national grassroots organization dedicated to electing the Biden-Harris ticket. In this capacity, he led a team of individuals to increase awareness of President Joe Biden’s and Vice President Kamala Harris’s campaign platforms, and their impact on the South Asian community. Previously, he worked as an intern for Joe Biden's presidential campaign at the National Headquarters, and in his student government studying, pushing, and advocating for legislation affecting students at higher education institutes. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies, playing sports, and catching up with friends.
Department of Commerce
Varun Seetamraju is a Sophomore at Columbia University studying Economics-Political Science and has a passion for public policy centered around economic growth and development. He is currently working as a Research Fellow on a project that looks at the connection between climate change and income inequality. In addition, he is a Research Assistant on a project studying the economic factors causing migration from developing nations. Varun spent the past year as a Fellow on the Biden for President Campaign working on AAPI outreach, and co-led the Biden campaign’s AAPI youth outreach. On campus, Varun is the PR chair and a member of the Columbia Bhangra dance team and is involved in Columbia’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute.
Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07)
Hifza Shaukat is a Senior at Columbia University where she is studying Middle East, South Asian and African Studies. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY to parents who immigrated from Pakistan. On campus, Hifza has served as the Vice President and Event Coordinator for Columbia MSA, and was a Community Coordinator and Co-founder of the Muslim Student House. Off campus, she is currently conducting research on forced marriages in Kyrgyzstan while also mentoring high school students through the college application process. She is passionate about education policy, immigration and foreign policy. Hifza is passionate about uplifting marginalized communities and women of color through education and immigration policy reforms. Hifza hopes to attend graduate school and to pursue a career in public service and international affairs.
Class of 2018
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