THE 2020 WLP SCHOLARS
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8)
Vignesh Iyer is a graduating junior at the University of California, Santa Cruz studying Political Science and Economics. Since moving to the US from India in 2014, he has developed a passion for politics and public service. In his two years on the UC Student Association’s Board of Directors, he has worked with the CA State Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom on issues of financial aid, student basic needs, and racial justice. Off campus, he has worked on local campaigns in the Bay Area, and on housing and homelessness policy as a legislative intern for San Francisco Mayor London Breed. He is excited to join the WLP family, and seeks to build on his experiences to find a career in public service.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-7)
Ananya Kachru (she/her/hers) is from Woodbridge, Connecticut and is a rising junior at Yale University, where she is majoring in Global Affairs. Ananya recently led the 2020 South Asian Youth Initiative—where South Asian college students come together to have critical discussions on issues including mental health, intersectionality, & gender violence. She also leads the Yale International Relations Leadership Institute and is involved with its Board of Directors. Ananya is the incoming co-President of the Yale Women’s Leadership Initiative and South Asian Society. She is involved with South Asian Americans in Public Service and is a Yale Campus Tour Guide.
Congressman Ami Bera (CA-7)
Mihiri Kotikawatta is a rising senior at the University of California San Diego where she is studying Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and Global Health. She was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka but grew up in Chula Vista, California. On campus, Mihiri works at the Women's Center as a community liaison and is also co-vice chair of the South Asian student association. Her professional interests include education policy, health policy and foreign policy. Mihiri is passionate in ensuring that marginalized working class communities like her own, have better access to higher education and affordable healthcare. Mihiri hopes to attend graduate school and to pursue a career in public service and foreign affairs.
U.S. Agency for International Development
Rucha Modi (she/her) is a rising senior at UCLA, majoring in Global Studies and minoring in Public Affairs. She was born and raised in Southern California to parents who immigrated from Gujarat. On campus, she has served as the Lobbying Director for UCLA's undergraduate student government and works for UCLA's Office of Undergraduate Admission. Off campus, she is working on a documentary about the affordability and accessibility of California's public higher education system, and a think tank research project regarding LGBTQ nondiscrimination and media rhetoric. She is passionate about mobilizing young South Asian Americans to challenge exclusionary politics and systemic inequities both in the U.S. and in the Indian subcontinent.
U.S. Agency for International Development
Shreya Pabbaraju is a rising fourth year student at Emory College of Arts and Sciences, double majoring in Political Science and English and Creative Writing. Previously, she has served as the Carter Center’s Human Rights Intern, and has also worked for the organization’s outreach arm with Emory, the Institute for Developing Nations. She currently serves as Lead Coder and Research Assistant for a project on militia violence in Northern Ireland, and is pursuing an honors thesis on violence against women in India. The latter project is a continuation of her work with the Institute for Human Rights. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and writing poetry.
Department of Commerce - ITA
Vishwa Padigepati (she/her/hers) is a rising sophomore at Yale University where she is majoring in Cognitive Science and Political Science. She lived in India and France, before moving to California at eight. Vishwa is passionate about genocide prevention and international development and volunteers her time to serve as a youth leader for STAND and Plan International USA. On campus, she is on the board of Yale Review of International Studies and Managing Editor for The Yale Undergraduate Human Rights Journal. She hopes to pursue developmental infrastructure work and human rights law in her future.
Department of Health & Human Services - CMS
Tarun Ramesh is an Economics and Genetics major at the University of Georgia, interested in substance use disorder prevention and the disparate impacts of addiction epidemics on vulnerable populations. His work on opioid use disorder and rural hospital closures have been published by the Center for American Progress, the Roosevelt Institute, the Georgia Political Review, and the Undergraduate Economic Review, and his policy recommendations have been used by congressional campaigns, rural hospital boards, legislators, and correctional facilities. Tarun has also investigated the socioeconomic determinants of addiction. Tarun hopes to pursue a joint Masters in Health Economics and Medical Degree to help end the criminalization of addiction.
Department of Commerce - Office of Civil Rights
Hillary Shah is a rising senior at the University of North Texas where she studies Political Science and Economics, with a certification in Legal Studies. Hillary is passionate about reinvigorating the American Dream and breaking down political, economic, and social structures that prohibit marginalized communities from reaching their full potential - whether that be through voter rights and mobilization work for historically disenfranchised groups, gun violence prevention, or education and resource distribution to first-generation and women of color. In the future, Hillary hopes to attend law school and serve her community as a public advocacy lawyer and public servant.
Department of Commerce - Women in STEM Group
Krithika Shamanna is a junior at Rice University where she is majoring in Political Science and the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, while pursuing a certificate in Civic Leadership. On campus, she is involved with the debate team, the school yearbook, and a chapter of non-profit organization Deeds Not Words. She is interested in studying the intersection of law, women's rights, and public policy. As an aspiring lawyer, she hopes to use the law to protect the rights of women and other marginalized communities.