Initiate Bios 2017
Initiates at Santa Clara University (2017)
Inducted as juniors in 2016
Neil Datar. Neil is from Mercer Island, WA, and is graduating with a double major in Political Science and History. He served for three years in student government, spending his final year as Chair of the Student Senate. In this time he was most passionate about civic engagement and relations with the city and neighborhood, hosting a city council debate and bringing a polling location to campus. He spent his summers interning with his Congressman, doing research with a policy center, and working with the Santa Clara City Government. Neil is the recipient of the Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, Award for the Class of 2017. He will start Duke Law School in August.
Lauren Edwards. Lauren is graduating with dual degrees in Psychology and Chemistry. Lauren was vice president of the Psi Chi Honor Society and Secretary of the Science and Engineering Mentoring Outreach Program. Inspired by summer research with Parkinson’s patients at the Brain and Mind Institute, Lauren focused her senior thesis on the neurobiological basis of the overlooked non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Lauren will begin working at UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center where she will help research ways to improve diagnostic accuracy in dementias. Ultimately, Lauren plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical neuropsychology.
Annamarie Pilon. Annamarie is a Psychology and Studio Art double major from Davis, California. Over the years, her passion for working with people has fueled her on-campus involvements, such as volunteering with the Santa Clara Community Action Program and the LOOP mentorship program. Annamarie has worked in the SCU Learning Commons since her sophomore year, where she assisted students and faculty in accessing library resources. She has played an active role in SCU’s Art and Art History Department, serving as a student ambassador, peer educator, and member of the SCU Student Art League. Annamarie will pursue a career in arts education.
Inducted in 2017
Sydney Akers. Sydney is a Mathematics major with a minor in Japanese Studies. She volunteered as a math tutor at SCU, and enjoys hiking and surfing in her free time. For her senior thesis, she researched the evolution of Japanese traditions and culture in her home state of Hawai’i. Sydney will continue her studies in the MS in Business Analytics program at SCU.
Jenna Bagley. Jenna is a triple major in Psychology, Spanish, and Women’s and Gender Studies. A recipient of the Jean Donovan Fellowship, she worked with victims of domestic violence at a non-profit organization in Costa Rica. For her senior thesis, she conducted research on the perception of sexual intent and its implications for sexual assault on college campuses. She was also a research assistant in Bioethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, leading the program’s expansion of healthcare ethics to include mental health. Jenna will be working in the family counseling division of her hometown’s Human Services Department in the greater Chicago area.
Collin Baker. Collin double majored in Economics and Psychology. He was a Psychology Department research assistant in Dr. Bell’s operant conditioning lab and later worked with Dr. Bezrukova studying the effects of team chemistry in Major League Baseball, dovetailing with his hobby of play-by-play broadcasting for Santa Clara baseball. He spent last year at Oxford University as SCU’s Mansfield Scholar. During his time at Santa Clara he was also involved in orchestra, wind symphony, and pep band. Collin will work as an analyst with Duff and Phelps after graduation and pursue a career in economic consulting.
Olivia Bennett. Olivia is a Biology major with minors in Bioengineering and French who was raised in Puerto Rico and Germany before settling down in Minnesota. She has researched themophilic DNA polymerases with Dr. Islas of the Biology Department, studied capuchin monkeys in the rainforests of Costa Rica with Dr. Bezanson of the Anthropology Department, and volunteered at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and the Humane Society of Silicon Valley. After graduation Olivia will continue working as a medical scribe and as an EMT in the Bay Area while applying to medical schools.
Alaina Boyle. Alaina is a Psychobiology major and Philosophy minor from Rocklin, CA. She is a part of the inaugural class of Johnson Scholars and is a leader of the Honors Advisory Council. She has been heavily involved in service and activism as the director of the Santa Clara Community Action Program on campus. This passion has extended to her international projects: she travelled to The Gambia to teach as a Leavey School of Business Global Fellow and to Tanzania to do research as a Miller Center Social Benefit Fellow. She is excited to be joining the Jesuit Volunteer Corps to work with refugee youth in Seattle.
Meghan Carlsen. Meghan is a Psychology major with minors in Public Health Science and Religious Studies. Originally from Granite Bay, CA, Meghan studied abroad in Barcelona, has been a researcher in Dr. Bruchmann’s psychology lab, and served on the leadership team of the Engineering World Health Club. Last summer, she conducted an action research project in Indonesia as a Global Social Benefit Fellow. Her honors thesis focused on differences in mental health treatment between the U.S. and Indonesia. Passionate about addressing health disparities, Meghan will be applying to graduate schools in Clinical Psychology and Public Health Science.
Keri Clifford. Keri is a Psychology major with a minor in Urban Education. While at SCU she has been a part of the Division I women's water polo team. Keri also served as a high school water polo coach at her alma mater. By taking part in five Arrupe placements at Santa Clara, she has discovered her love for working with children. Keri is passionate about education and has decided to become an elementary school teacher. Keri will be moving to sunny Santa Barbara to pursue a MA in Education and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.
Amanda Dahl. Amanda is a Biology major and History minor from Mukilteo, WA. Since sophomore year, she has worked with Dr. Islas in the Biology Department researching HIV and completed her honors thesis on this research. She has been involved in the Chinese Student Association since her freshman year and spent two years on its board as secretary and co-chair. Beyond the classroom, Amanda was part of the Images dance show on campus. She also worked as a tutor at the Drahmann Advising Center and studied abroad in Edinburgh. Amanda plans to work in clinical research and apply to medical schools.
Hannah Dennis. Hannah is an Environmental Science and Economics double major from Redmond, WA. She served as a tutor at the Drahmann Advising Center, worked as a research assistant in Urban Planning with the Environmental Science Department, and spent two years as captain of the women's ultimate frisbee team. After spending the summer as an elementary science instructor, Hannah plans to begin her career in environmental consulting.
Genevieve Duran. Genevieve is a Political Science major with a minor in Economics. During summers, she has worked at St. Nicholas Ranch as a camp counselor for middle-school girls. She frequently volunteers with the youth programs at her home church, Holy Trinity of San Francisco, and teaches third and fourth grade Sunday school there. For her senior seminar, Genevieve wrote about how the Supreme Court adjudicates on religious rights issues. She will attend Santa Clara Law School and specialize in intellectual property law.
Erika Francks. From Olympia, WA, Erika is an Environmental Studies Major with a minor in Management Information Systems. She interned for an environmental education NGO in Kolkata, India as a Global Fellow, and returned the following summer to research off-grid solar power as a Global Social Benefit Fellow through the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. During her junior and senior years, Erika assisted with the Ignatian Center’s Thriving Neighbors Initiative by teaching yoga in Spanish to mothers at Washington Elementary School. She will move to San Francisco to work as a consulting analyst at Accenture. Erika is the Valedictorian of the Class of 2017.
Kathryn Franke. A junior, Kathryn is a Biology and Women’s and Gender Studies double major with a minor in Public Health Science. She has been a peer health educator on campus for the past three years. She has also worked closely with Dr. Burns of the Child Studies Department in implementing a community-based intervention designed to foster resilience in high-risk families living in San Jose. After finishing her senior year at Santa Clara, she hopes to continue to improve the health and wellbeing of communities by attending medical school and becoming a doctor.
Amanda Hancock. Amanda, a Psychology major and Communication minor, is a transfer student from Foothill and De Anza Community Colleges. She found a home in Santa Clara University’s LEAD Scholar’s Program as a first-generation college student and has been secretary of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. For the past year, she has worked as a behavioral therapist helping children on the autistim spectrum. After graduation, she will pursue a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and a license in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Aneka Khilnani. Aneka, a Public Health major, has explored her passion for teaching, writing, and science. She served as a general and organic chemistry TA and was a copywriter for the yearbook. With Dr. Mackenzie of the Public Health Science Department, she submitted a grant to the Health Trust Initiative to support dietary change among a low-income population. With Dr. Robinson of the Sociology Department, she researched the link between support groups and health outcomes and presented the results at a research conference. She spent her summers at USC researching the link between stress hormone levels and obesity in a low-income adolescent population. She will continue her research at USC before applying to medical schools.
David Kim. David is a Political Science major with an emphasis in Public Sector Studies. A native of San Jose, CA, he studied abroad in South Korea, focusing on East Asian international relations. In addition, he served as a research assistant to Professor Elsa Chen, studying the implementation of Propositions 36 and 47 in California. Having served in the Research & Development arm of the Santa Clara County Probation Office, he has cultivated a passion for implementing best practices for reducing youth recidivism. David hopes to continue working with Santa Clara County while applying to law schools.
Hannah Kortbawi. A junior, Hannah is a Biology and Philosophy double major. She has worked as a research assistant and lab manager for Dr. Leilani Miller in the Biology department for the past two years. This summer, she will be working in the lab of Dr. Mary-Claire King in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Washington. She has served as the Service and Social Justice Coordinator for Christian Life Community, tutored elementary school children in reading and math, and was a biology teaching assistant. During her senior year, Hannah will be part of the Health Care Ethics Internship.
Miles Lagunas. Miles is a Psychology and English double major from Sunnyvale, California. He worked as a research assistant for Professor Yekaterina Bezrukova, exploring how group dynamics affect team performance. Since October 2015, Miles has been providing behavioral interventions to children on the Autism spectrum as a Registered Behavioral Technician at Gateway Learning Group. Miles enjoys writing poetry; he has had his work featured in The Santa Clara Review and was awarded second place in the Shipsey Poetry Competition. He will be applying to graduate programs in developmental psychology while continuing to work for the Gateway Learning Group.
Grace McPhail. Grace is a Public Health Science major with a pre-med focus. As a member of the Chickasaw Nation, she helped to co-found and co-chair the Native American Coalition for Change, Santa Clara’s first Native student group. She spent six weeks abroad in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where she worked with the Red Cross and earned certifications in Basic Life Support for Obstetrics as well as in CPR/BLS instruction. Though the Pacific Northwest is home, she will spend the next year in San Diego, volunteering, pursuing research opportunities, and applying to medical schools.
Katherine Meyer. A junior, Katherine is a double major in Political Science and Religious Studies with a minor in French that kept her from getting lost when she studied abroad in Strasbourg, France. She spent the past summer working on Dr. Naomi Levy's research project in the Political Science department on post-conflict states. Using Dr. Levy's framework, Katherine presented her own research project on post-WWII Germany at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference. This summer, she will be participating in an undergraduate research program on Peace Science at the University of North Texas funded by the National Science Foundation.
Sophie Meyer. Sophie is a University honors student double majoring in Political Science and French, with a minor in Urban Education. As a research assistant for Professor Elsa Chen, Sophie explored criminal justice policy and the impact of recidivism. She interned in the California State Assembly and studied abroad in an intensive language program in Nantes, France. The recipient of the 2017 Michael Shallo Prize for outstanding achievement in Political Science, Sophie will attend Oxford University next year for a Masters in Comparative and International Education.
Alejandra Mora. Alejandra is a Computer Science and Mathematics double major with an emphasis in Data Science. During her time at SCU she focused on her passion for education, working as a peer advisor, lab teaching assistant, peer educator, tutor, and grader. Alongside this, she interned for Accenture as a Consulting Analyst, where she explored various roles including project management and data analytics. After graduation, she will be joining Accenture full time, where she will continue expanding and developing her skills. As a long-term dream, she hopes to return to the field of education, incorporating her corporate experience to help guide students in achieving their goals and aspirations.
Alison Neely. Alison is a Biology major and French Studies minor. She served as a Leavey Business School Global Fellow, spending the summer of 2016 working for an NGO focusing on public health and entrepreneurship in Kumasi, Ghana. On campus, she worked as a chemistry tutor in the Drahmann Advising Center and held a position as the director of chapter events for her sorority, Alpha Phi. A native of Boulder, CO, Alison plans on working in the healthcare field while applying to medical schools.
Alma Orozco. Alma, a double major in Psychology and Child Studies, served as a research fellow for Dr. Nichols of the Sociology Department, helping implement a research training course for members of the Greater Washington Neighborhood. She was featured on the “Educational Inequality and First Generation College Students” podcast, highlighting the experiences of marginalized students. She served as a LEAD Week Assistant, training student staff on facilitating the college transition for incoming, first-generation students. Alma will be a college adviser in an underserved high school in San Jose as part of UC Berkeley’s Destination College Advising Corps.
Laura Perez. Laura is a History major with an Arabic Studies minor. She studied Arabic at Santa Clara and studied abroad in Morocco where she researched the impact of drought on women’s cooperatives producing argan oil. She held internships with Veggielution in San Jose and the Greater LA Council on American-Islamic Relations, and co-edited Historical Perspectives, the History Department’s annual journal of student research. She will begin a year of service with the organization Promise Arizona through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
Anand Purohit. A junior, Anand is a Political Science and Environmental Studies double major, with an Economics minor. Working as a research assistant in the Environmental Science Department, he investigates ways to alleviate climate-induced poverty in Central America. When he is not working or studying, you will find Anand in the gym. He is constantly training to improve his fitness and strength. Most recently, he competed in a Spartan Race, which involves sprinting 5 miles while navigating a series of dangerous obstacles--including leaping over fire-pits, dodging live electric wires, and crawling under barbed-wire nets. Needless to say, Anand has made a habit of pushing himself both physically and mentally.
Sara Ryugo. Sara is a Child Studies major and Japanese Studies minor. She has played leadership roles in both the Multicultural Center and the Future Child Advocates club. Through these roles, she has had opportunities to address social justice issues, create a safe space for students of color, and inform the SCU community about issues that children are forced to face such as domestic violence and adjustment to the foster care system. Next year, she will be the Family Support Specialist for the Westside Children’s Center in Los Angeles.
Emily Sands. Emily is a Political Science major and an Economics minor. She worked as Professor Elsa Chen’s research assistant studying the effects of Proposition 36 in California. Last fall she studied in Washington, DC, and interned at a non-profit seeking reform in the juvenile justice system. Emily also spent over a month in Nepal working with locals and volunteers, moving rubble and improving displaced persons camps in the aftermath of the earthquakes in 2015. Most recently, she gave a TEDx talk on fighting mental health stigma through the connectivity of humor. Emily plans to work in public policy before applying to doctoral programs in Political Science or Economics.
Max Sarver. Max is a Biochemistry major who has served as an EMT with SCU EMS for the last three years. During his time at SCU he spent his mornings rowing with the men’s crew team and nights helping freshman get home safely. He will be working as a medical scribe at El Camino Hospital and as an EMT with United Ambulance while he applies to medical schools.
Taylor Semon. Taylor, a Child Studies major, has been working at Kids on Campus preschool since her freshman year and has spent many hours assisting in elementary school classrooms throughout Santa Clara and San Jose. She studied abroad in Barcelona and interned with Breakthrough Silicon Valley, an after school program for low-income students. She wrote her senior capstone paper on the role of the teacher in educating the whole child. This fall, Taylor will begin working towards a Master of Arts in Teaching and Teaching Credential in the Graduate School of Education at SCU.
Neely Shachal. Neely, a Santa Clara local, is graduating with a degree in Psychology. Her time at Santa Clara has cultivated her love for learning, understanding, and working with people. She worked as a research lab assistant for Professor Kathryn Bruchmann of the Psychology Department, and as an online research intern for Mental Health Mediate. She also loves to work with underserved youth, and did so by working with the FitKids Foundation and volunteering at the Bill Wilson Center Crisis Shelter, Sacred Heart After School Academy, and Reading Partners. Neely plans to earn a licensed degree in the mental health field.
Karen Snowden. Karen is a Psychology and Child Studies double major from Seattle. During her senior year, she enjoyed working as a community development fellow at the Sacred Heart Education Center in downtown San Jose. One of her main research interests while at Santa Clara has been analyzing the differences in educational attainment for minority students, and she is currently co-authoring a paper on the school-to-prison pipeline with Dr. Solomon of the Child Studies department. Next year, she will be a Jesuit Volunteer in Cleveland, where she will work at the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center as a youth advocate. Karen plans to pursue a master’s degree in Social Work.
William Thomas. Will is a Biochemistry major originally from Phoenix, AZ. At Santa Clara, he conducted research on the design and synthesis of chiral auxiliaries with Dr. Brian McNelis. He was the founder and president of the on-campus club Santa Clara Premedical Outreach. Will also enjoys ceramic arts, specifically raku pottery. Will is embarking on a PhD in Organic Chemistry at UC Irvine.
Maura Turcotte. Raised in Los Angeles, Maura majored in English and Political Science. She studied abroad for a semester in Rome, during which time she participated in a human rights symposium at Nicolas Copernicus University in Poland. For the last three years, she has worked for the campus newspaper, The Santa Clara, starting out as a news reporter and copy editor before finally serving as the arts section editor. Maura also spent the last year working as an editorial intern for the award-winning Santa Clara Magazine, the university’s alumni publication. Maura will be moving back to Los Angeles to pursue journalism or work in communications.
Julie Vass. An Economics major, Julie was a member of the women’s soccer team that made it to the Elite 8 in 2016. When not in the classroom or on the soccer field, Julie spent her time as an economics and math tutor for the Drahmann Advising Center as well as a teaching assistant in econometrics. With Professor Kevane in the Economics Department, she analyzed property taxes for Santa Clara County using R-studio coding. After finishing her coursework in the fall of 2016, Julie started working as a software developer for Enrich.
Yesenia Veamatahau. Yesenia is an Ethnic Studies and Sociology double major with a minor in Political Science. She dedicated her time to advocating on behalf of marginalized groups and helping to build strong communities on and off campus. She held leadership roles in the Santa Clara Community Action Program and Multicultural Center and participated in the Jean Donovan and Community Development Fellowships through the Ignatian Center. She will work as the new Youth in Power lead organizer for Causa Justa (Just Cause), a grassroots organization based in Oakland and San Francisco.
Carson Whisler. Carson is an Economics major and History minor. As an underclassman, he was the professional chair for Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, the vice-president of Ruff Riders, and an Orientation Leader. He participated in the SCU Global Fellows program and interned at the Indonesian Institute for Energy Economics. The following summer he served as a Global Social Benefit Fellow with ONergy, a social enterprise focused on combatting energy poverty in eastern India. Currently Carson works as an impact investing analyst with the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Next year he will be working in India as a Data for Impact Fellow.
Cristina White. Cristina is a History major on the pre-med track. She is a local from Los Altos, CA, where she worked at a local toy store. She also volunteered at Buchser Middle School in Mrs. Woodward’s science class and graded organic chemistry exams for Professor Brian McNelis. In her free time, she enjoys running, having competed in both the San Francisco and Berkeley Half Marathons. After taking some time to travel and volunteer, Cristina will apply to medical schools in hopes of becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon.
Alissa Wilson. Alissa is a Biology major with a minor in Italian Studies. She walked from San Francisco to Yosemite with Professor David Popalisky, studied Howler monkeys in the rainforests of Costa Rica with Professor Michelle Bezanson, and, most recently, swam with whale sharks in the Sea of Cortez with Professor Virginia Matzek. She interned with Germains Seed Technology International and, in fall 2016, began working with the Conservation Program at Stanford University. After graduation, she will return to Stanford and begin working full-time as a conservation technician.
Julia Wood. Julia is a Political Science major from San Jose, CA. She served as captain of the cross country and track teams, researched campaign finance with Professor Anne Baker, and completed a thesis that dissected Friedrich Nietzsche’s views of compassion. She also worked at the YWCA of Silicon Valley as a Human Trafficking Prevention intern, as well as a legal clerk at the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Julia will continue working at the District Attorney’s Office while applying to law schools.
Katherine Zaremba. Katherine is a double major in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies. She has been active in both A Cappella and Kappa Alpha Theta, and through the Valeriote Goldman internship program worked for the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. A native of Corvallis, OR, Katherine ventured East for the first time this past fall in the Washington Semester Program, interning with a nonprofit that trains young women to run for elected office. She plans to return to DC just as soon as the district is ready for her!