The Hart Leadership Program is pleased to announce the selection of new fellows for SOL – the Service Opportunities in Leadership Program. These promising students have been chosen through a competitive application process and will embark on a transformative journey in the program this spring.
The new SOL students will dive in with a spring gateway course titled PUBPOL 263S – “Leading In and With Community,” taught by Professor Alexandra Zagbayou and co-instructor Professor Jesse Huddleston, specifically designed to introduce a leadership framework for crafting social change. The course explores historic and contemporary examples of civic engagement and social change, challenging students to examine their understanding of leadership through the lens of community while fostering creativity and curiosity in projects formed in collaboration with community partners. The fellows will have an opportunity to apply their learning to an immersive internship experience with a community partner this summer. SOL students will reflect on and continue their learning through the SOL capstone course PUBPOL 415: Communities of Practice, taught by Professor Andrew Nurkin, in the fall semester. SOL students will also have the opportunity to make their work public.
Introducing the 2024 SOL cohort, a group of talented individuals selected to learn and engage with HLP this year:
Dylan Cawley is a sophomore at Duke University, majoring in Environmental Science & Policy with a minor in Inequality Studies. He is passionate about exploring the intersections of climate change and environmental justice through an economic lens. Before Duke, Dylan spent a gap year fighting wildfires in Northern California for the California Conservation Corps and has since worked for the US Forest Service on an Interagency Hotshot Crew. On campus, Dylan is a member of Duke Student Government, an Ambassador for the Office of Sustainability, and a researcher in the Duke Economic Analytics Lab.
Laila Dames is a sophomore from Miami, Florida studying Public Policy, minoring in Education, and earning a certificate in Child Policy Research. On campus, she is involved in various cultural clubs and volunteers to serve as a mentor for youth. She is interested in education policy and the school to prison pipeline; Laila is passionate about creating more equitable public schools, especially for minority students who are often marginalized in the public education system. She is currently in a Bass Connections research group titled “Developing Best Practices for Trauma Informed Teaching and Learning.” In her free time, you will often find Laila on FaceTime with her baby siblings or laughing with friends.
Akshay Gokul is a sophomore from Central Jersey studying public policy and economics. He is energized to use his artistry, particularly through filmmaking and theater, as a means of advancing racial justice. Currently, Akshay serves as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair of Duke Student Government, Student Researcher on the Bass Connections project “Hip Hop Pedagogies: Education for Citizenship in Brazil and the United States”, and Communications Assistant at the Sanford School of Public Policy. Outside of this, you may find Akshay roaming around campus, thrifting, and laughing with friends.
Jiae Kim is a sophomore majoring in public policy with a minor in education and certificate in child policy research. As a Korean international student who graduated high school in Uzbekistan, Jiae is interested in advancing equitable and inclusive global education through advocacy and policy. On campus, Jiae is involved with Bull City Scholars, Duke Tour Guides, research in the Trinity Curriculum, and the Student Advisory Board for the Office of Undergraduate Education. Outside of classes, she enjoys traveling, reading books, trying local restaurants, and baking.
Ari Miller is a Public Policy student from rural Kansas. At the age of 13, Ari became involved in community service through moderating local government events. As she got older, she began volunteering in her local community theater, a local arts cooperative board, and even accepted a position as COO of an international nonprofit called Here N Queer. At the age of 15, she became emancipated from her parents. Following this major life event, she began advocating for children who grew up in broken homes, as well as gathering resources for those who wish to become emancipated or are already emancipated. Passionate about advocating for marginalized communities, Ari plans to attend law school with the intention of practicing family and civil rights law and run for public office. First and foremost, however, she plans to continue to serve the communities she’s around.
Monika Narain is a third-year A.B. Duke Scholar originally from the Chicago area. She is pursuing a double major in Physics and Cinematic Arts with a minor in Math. Monika is passionate about applying quantitative approaches to neuroscience and psychology and developing more effective ways to communicate science on stage and screen. Outside of working on all kinds of brain research, Monika is a nationally performing comedian and writer for the Duke Chronicle. She is also one of the leaders of the Body Empowerment Project at Duke, which aims to promote body diversity, eating disorder awareness, and wellness education.
Michael Ramos is a public policy major from San Diego, California. Having grown up along the Southern U.S. border, Michael is interested in issues related to migration. Additionally, being a first-generation, low-income student, Michael has taken a keen interest in educational disparities. With his interests in mind, Michael is attempting to look at the intersections between both, hoping SOL could be an outlet for such exploration. On Duke’s campus, Michael is involved with the Latinx affinity group Mi Gente as the community interactions/alumni affairs chair and the migration advocacy group Define America as the internal chair committee. Michael also works with bilingual preschool children through Duke Jumpstart, is a recruitment chair for the OUSF Student Advisory Committee (OSAC), and works with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) as a student assistant. Outside of academics, Michael enjoys working out, basketball, Spanish slang, whimsical dances, and being an avid journaler.
Kulsoom Rizavi is a third-year University Scholar studying Computer and Political Science (Decision Theory and Data Science concentration) with a minor in Cinematic Arts at Duke. She is passionate about interdisciplinary fields of studies, particularly the intersection of Data Science and International Development that helps in evidence-based policy making. She is also a storyteller, having worked on different documentaries and multimedia projects in Denmark, Iceland, Belgium, France, India, and Durham. As a SOL student, she hopes to better understand how to utilize her interdisciplinary skillset to effectively advocate for issues she cares about and also continue working on her non-profit organization to improve college access for low-income students in India.
Jordyn Sandler is currently a junior from New York City, pursuing a degree in Public Policy with a minor in Sociology and Ethics & Society Certificate. On campus, Jordyn is a Tour Guide, Public Policy Ambassador and Mentor, and a part of the Sui Generis Pre-law Mentorship Program. Outside of Duke, Jordyn interns at the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence where she prepares memos to prove wrongful conviction. Recently, Jordyn has become a fellow at The Frederick Douglass Project (FDP) for Justice. Here, she facilitates and leads thoughtful discussions with incarcerated individuals and outside participants to shift the public perception about justice and the legal system. FDP has taught her the power of influencing public opinion to drive legal and policy change, and it has underscored the importance of proximity to the change one seeks to enact. She is excited to continue exploring this work through the SOL program. Jordyn loves dancing, running and listening to country music.
Vanessa Santini Gomes is a sophomore from an inner agriculture-based town in Brazil who is passionate about exploring tools to dismantle social inequality and expose human rights violations through Economics and Political Science. Vanessa wonders about the various questions that arise in these fields with a decolonial and non-white feminist lens. She hopes to represent Brazil and/or Latin America in international relations and support amplifying the voice and power of underdeveloped and emerging countries globally in the future. Vanessa’s main focus is gender rights and equality. On campus, she works as a member of the policy team at SHAPE (Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention & Education) and supports Duke’s first-year women’s empowerment as part of the Penny Pilgram George Women’s Leadership Initiative. Furthermore, she is engaged in the intersection between gender activism and psychology, exploring child-mother relationships and infant development. More recently, she has worked with language development at the Wilbourn Infant Lab at Duke. Vanessa is also the co-founder of ElaSTEMpoder, a project to build community and strength among Brazilian women and girls in STEM fields.
Sadie Sheridan is a junior from Vernon Hills, Illinois majoring in Public Policy and History. She is interested in exploring the intersection between research and action at the community level. Two summers ago, she worked on a data science research project with the Durham Community Safety Department, and last summer she was on an oral history research project for the Langa township in South Africa. This summer, she plans to research the effectiveness of recent alternatives to public safety by working with local initiatives and community members. On campus, Sadie is involved in Devils en Pointe, Embodiment Contemporary Dance, Duke Chorale, Ballet&Books, and Duke’s Digital Art History Lab. In her free time, Sadie enjoys reading, going to coffee shops, and making poor attempts to cook new meals.
Sean Smith is a second-year QuestBridge Scholar from Tuscaloosa, Alabama studying Public Policy. He is passionate about community rebuilding and development through transforming neglected neighborhoods into vibrant, thriving hubs of opportunity and creating lasting, positive change for the current residents. Sean currently serves as the DUU Speakers and Stage Chair, where he invites and hosts a variety of performers to campus to enhance student life. He continues his passion for service as the BSA Outreach Chair and is a member of the Iota Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. In his free time, you can find Sean spending time with his friends, listening to different genres of music, or beating single-player video games.
Annabel Tang is a first year student from Richmond, Virginia hoping to pursue a self-designed major through Program II at the intersection of English literature, mental healthcare, and Asian American studies. She is passionate about the ways employing storytelling and narrative can lead to better understandings of human illness and healing in Asian American communities — communities where trauma is often unspeakable. She wants to learn about the ways healthcare is intertwined not only with science and research, but also with philosophy, ethics, and public policy. At Duke, Annabel is involved with Help Desk, Asian Students Association, Duke Chinese Dance, and The Chronicle. In her free time, she enjoys ice skating, playing the piano, listening to NPR podcasts on 2x speed, and reading books that send her into active existential crises.
Yusuf Zayan is a junior from Raleigh, NC studying Public Policy. He is originally from Egypt, and spent the first 11 years of his life growing up in Saudi Arabia. He is interested in nNonprofit management and international development, and hopes to use these fields to serve communities around the globe. Yusuf is passionate about his faith and is motivated by Islam to build community, bring joy to others, and address systems of inequity. Yusuf is heavily involved with the local Muslim community through weekly youth programming, community outreach, and service organizations. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, vegetable gardening, and debating about Chrisopher Nolan movies. He hopes to spend this upcoming summer working internationally in the Middle East with humanitarian relief organizations.