Biographies of Fellows

The Detroit Fellowship brings together a group of 22 university students and young professionals from Detroit, elsewhere in Michigan, the United States and Europe. Applicants to the Detroit Fellowship are currently enrolled undergraduate students (sophomores, juniors and seniors) or recent graduates with strong ties to Detroit or elsewhere in Michigan; or young professionals from Detroit and currently reside in Detroit or the state of Michigan. Students and recent graduates from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine are also eligible to apply. All applicants share a strong committment to contributing to Detroit's future, and are futhermore passionate about active and responsible citizenship, diversity and human rights. Learn more about how to become a Humanity in Action Fellow here.

Mona Amin

East Carolina University

Born and raised in North Carolina, Mona Amin is a senior biology honors student at East Carolina University. She is an active social justice advocate on campus through her job at the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement. She has also contributed to the social innovation space at ECU through serving as campus director of Hult Prize@ ECU, and helping launch a first ever makeathon- innovateECU. Mona also serves as the co-founder of her startup Freshspire, which is a mobile application that notifies shoppers of markdowns on perishable foods at local grocery stores. Through encouraging students to pursue social entrepreneurship, she hopes to gain a better understanding of design thinking. In her free time, Mona enjoys dancing with Pirate Raas- an Indian dance team that she started at ECU. After college, she plans on pursuing a master’s degree in design impact to find a career centered around innovation in medicine.

Asma Baban


University of Michigan

Born in Pakistan to a Kurdish father and an Afghan mother, Asma Baban has been exposed to diversity since birth. A recent graduate of the University of Michigan, Asma's academic interests align with her passion to embrace the difference in this world. Her recent research on Iraqi refugees was one attempt in doing so. From interning at the Mayor's Office in Detroit to volunteering with local non-profits, Asma's experiences have allowed her to listen to stories that often get overlooked. Through listening to the stories of others, she believes understanding can be accomplished. She hopes to share the stories of the marginalized, disenfranchised, underrepresented diverse populations in her future work. Asma plans to achieve this goal by pursuing a joint Ph.D. in anthropology and history.

 

 

Nathan Catey


Oakland University

Born in Philadelphia, PA, USA, spent his formative years in Kalamazoo, MI, USA, and high school in Broken Arrow, OK, USA, Nathan Catey is a graduating senior at Oakland University with a major in Political Science and a minor in Journalism. He also spent a semester abroad at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. As a community organizer for President Barack Obama's Organizing for Action, Nathan helped manage their social media accounts and helped sign people up for the Affordable Care Act. He worked as an organizer to elect Hillary Clinton and Democrats during the 2016 Presidential election. In his spare time, Nathan volunteers to help local campaigns win elections by providing marketing strategies. After Oakland, Nathan plans to pursue either a Master of Public Policy and study international trade policy or a Master of Business Administration and study development management.

Molly DeDona


Calvin College

Born and raised in Northville Township of Southeast Michigan, Molly Dedona will be a senior in the fall of 2017 at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Seeking a double major in Japanese and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, she spent a semester abroad for the winter semester 2017 in Hikone, Japan. While attending the Japan Center for Michigan Universities, she stayed with a host family in Otsu, a city on the outskirts of Kyoto. Additionally, she completed an internship at Otsuka Electronics in Kusatsu, Japan, hosting an English Business Seminar. Her interests include creating art in various media currently concentrating on ceramics, multi-media, drawing, and painting. Other hobbies include reading, listening to podcasts, studying Japanese kanji and cooking.

Azra Dizdar


University of Sarajevo

Azra Dizdar was born in Mostar. She started playing violin when she was 7 years old. She pursued her aspiration for music and graduated in violin performance at the Academy of Music in Sarajevo, in class of YeonJu Jeong. She is enrolled in MA studies with the same professor. She performed as a soloist with an orchestra and won several chamber music competitions with a piano trio. She was awarded the annual scholarship from the Foundation “Karim Zaimovic” for her contribution to cultural life of Sarajevo. Beside passion for performance, she is a devoted teacher focused on raising a new generation of violinists. Due to the challenging environment of growing up in post-war society, she became interested in the field of democracy and human rights and became president of the student organization at college. She hopes to pursue her career as a violinist and earn a PhD. Apart from that, she would love to become politician.

Hannah Gardenswartz


Scripps College

Hannah Gardenswartz grew-up in the mountains of Colorado, before heading to Scripps College, where she graduated in 2015 a major in Politics and International Relations (with a concentration on European Politics) and a minor in Theater. She is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow, from the 2013 Warsaw program where she learned to love Poland and care deeply about genocide studies. She also did study abroad programs in Istanbul (spring 2014) and Brussels (summer 2015) to see European politics from very different perspectives. Now, her greatest joy is volunteering at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. After the Humanity in Action Detroit program, Hannah will begin her studies at Washington College of Law at American University.

 

Quinsy Gario


Royal Academy of Art The Hague

Quinsy Gario, born in Curaçao and raised in St. Maarten, studied Artistic Research at the Royal Academy of Art The Hague and Theater, Film and Television Studies at the Utrecht University with a focus on Gender and Postcolonial Studies. He won the Hollandse Nieuwe Theatermakers Prize 2011, the Issue Award 2014 and the Amsterdam Fringe Festival Silver Award 2015. His work 'Zwarte Piet Is Racisme' critiqued the general knowledge surrounding the racist Dutch figure of Black Pete which he followed up by revealing the Dutch governmental support for it. Now he is focusing on state protection of the marginalized and political resistance as performance. He is a board-member of De Appel Arts Center, member of the pan-African artist collective State of L3 and a recurring participant of the Black Europe Body Politics biannual conference series. He has performed in Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Contact Theater (Manchester) and Ballhaus Naunynstraße (Berlin).

Jamal Grant

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Jamal Grant is Boston native and a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Lowell in mechanical engineering (2015). He currently works as a mechanical/aerospace engineer at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and is the Founder & Director of The NET Mentoring Group, Inc., which is a mentoring organization that focuses on closing the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) achievement and opportunity gap and teaches students about social justice. Jamal has a passion for helping develop youth, education and economics in underprivileged communities. In Boston, Jamal sits on committees that work with city politicians, the school department and local activists to develop policies and practices intended to improve access and equality for inner-city communities. In his role as a Senior Fellow participant, Jamal hopes to lean on his experiences in Boston and engineering to help develop creative solutions to the problems facing the Detroit area.

Sofia “Sophie” Karagianni


Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Sophie Karagianni is a law graduate turned start-up enthusiast and women's advocate evangelist, with working experience in corporate communications. Being one of the youngest delegates in the UN CEDAW Committee helped Sofia discover her life's drive, how to make sure that women have a seat in the table. Her drive for empowering women led her to found Knit2Lead, a social enterprise aimed at empowering women through fashion, as well as launch The 50/50 project, an organization devoted to help millennial women thrive. As a social entrepreneur, she understood that education is the only weapon to change the world and subsequently took a job as a marketing assistant at the European Public Law Organization trying to implement new ways in attracting students to immerse in the science of law. Working in the field of social entrepreneurship, made her see that even the noblest cause if not communicated properly cannot have an impact: that's why she started working as a corporate communications associate at the Titan Cement Company.

Katherine Kennedy


University of Michigan

Born and raised in Ann Arbor MI, Katie Kennedy is a 2017 graduate from the University of Michigan. Majoring in Art History and minoring in Urban Studies, she hopes to inspire communities through celebrating, preserving, and teaching local histories. Katie helps lead Students4Justice, participated in an independent study on the History of US Black Expression, facilitated art therapy classes in detention centers, conducted peer-led immersion programs, and earned a cultural studies concentration in African Studies. Katie also participated in Semester in Detroit, interning at the Detroit Historical society. In her spare time, Katie is a lacrosse player, activist, and artist specializing in mixed media. Passionate about education, she consults with local elementary and middle schools to develop diverse and inclusive curriculum. Katie plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Art History, studying how Black visual expression can be used as a tool for Black liberation.

Marta “Aniela” Kopczynska

University of Warsaw

Aniela Kopczynska was born in an already democratic Poland. Her deep interest in culture and history is rooted in the city where she was raised, that was once a Jewish shtetl. Aniela decided to pursue her interests through Culture and Media Management studies. She developed a deep understanding of culture as well as management and leadership skills by organizing various events including art exhibitions, interdisciplinary projects concerning the complex Jewish history as well as festivals meant to activate the local community. She then committed herself to studying spatial economy at the University of Warsaw. During her studies, she led the Student Research Association and conducted a project focused on creating user-oriented common spaces on campus. Currently, Aniela is at the Humboldt University in Berlin analyzing interactions in academic spaces. Next, Aniela plans to work on the revitalization of Polish public spaces and begin her Ph.D. studies.

Rahel Melody Kroeker


Yale University/University of Konstanz

Rahel M. Kroeker holds a Master of Arts in International Development Economics from Yale University (’15) and a joint BA/MA English, Political Science and Economics degree from University of Konstanz (’17). Growing up in Germany, while connected to a vibrant international Mennonite church community, which is active in social justice and peace work, has inspired her endeavor and passion to become an intercultural bridge builder. She has worked with refugees from the Middle East in Switzerland, volunteered as an English teacher in Tanzania and as an instructor in a program on peace, diversity and intercultural understanding in Afghanistan. As board member of the German development NGO Mennonitisches Hilfswerk e.V., she cooperated with Tanzanian project partners and co-founded a team which organizes workshops on sustainability and fair trade for German youth. Long-term she plans to work in public policy consulting within holistic, heterodox economic development and peace-building approaches in post-war environments.

Jacqueline “Jackie” Laurell


Calvin College

Jacqueline (Jackie) Laurell is a rising junior at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a major in Special Education and a minor in Urban Studies with a focus on Urban Education. As a John M. Perkins leadership fellow at Calvin College, she is passionate about racial reconciliation and community development. Having grown up in Toledo, Ohio, Jackie has a strong love for Rust Belt cities. Jackie has previously interned with a healthcare advocacy company in Detroit, participated in a service-learning trip in Pittsburgh, and has interned in a Kindergarten classroom in an urban school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jackie envisions being part of a movement to help create communities that thrive through education, art, and community based relationships. She dreams of living in the beautiful city of Detroit and learning alongside her future students about what it means to be active and proud members of their community.

Julia Mardeusz


University of Warsaw

Julia Mardeusz graduated from University of Warsaw with an MA in American Studies in 2016. She also spent a semester abroad at Ca'Foscari University in Venice. For her MA thesis, Julia conducted research about HIV/AIDS activism during the first fifteen years of the epidemic in the U.S. During her studies, she worked in different media as a contributor and social media manager. After her graduation, Julia spent some time traveling, volunteering in Sri Lanka, studying at the Polish Institute of Reportage and working as a freelancer. For several years, she has been involved with the Young Journalists Association "Polis" and European Youth Press, in which she is a part of Advisory Board. Julia is interested mostly in women's rights and minority rights. In her free time, she watches American movies and reads non-fiction books.

 

Caitlin Murphy


University of Detroit Mercy

Caitlin Murphy lives in Detroit, Michigan. Caitlin received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan's Penny Stamps School of Art and Design and is currently finishing up her Master's degree in Community Development from the University of Detroit Mercy. Her Capstone Project is an analysis of small business development along the McNichols retail corridor in Northwest Detroit, and she is invested in creative revitalization efforts. Caitlin currently works for the Detroit Home Mortgage Initiative and as a part of the Cairo Library Collective based out of the Eastern Market.

 

 

 

 

Sheila Namakula


Wayne State University

Sheila Namakula was born and raised in Kampala, Uganda. She is a completing a double major in African American Studies (concentration in Development and Policy) and Urban Studies at Wayne State University. She is also a student assistant in the Survey Research Unit at Wayne State’s Center for Urban Studies. She has previously served as a board member for the African Caribbean Chamber of Commerce in Detroit. She has also volunteered as an income tax preparer and financial coach with the Accounting Aid Society, assisting qualifying low income families file their income taxes, as well get onto a path of financial wellness by developing SMART goals. As a cultural ambassador with Global Detroit, she volunteered as an ESL Tutor in Hamtramck assisting new Americans from Bangladesh with their English skills. After Wayne State, Sheila plans to complete a dual Masters degree in Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture.

Jacqueline Ramsey


Central Michigan University

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Jacqueline Ramsey is currently a senior at Central Michigan University, majoring in Sociology, with a Concentration in Social and Criminal justice, and minoring in Leadership. Through many student organizations, Jacqueline has learned transferable skills that she would like to implement in giving back to her community and owning her own business in the near future. Jacqueline plans to go to graduate school to earn her Master’s in Business Administration. She is currently working on research that analyzes Black female leaders within the business sector, who are social agents for change in the metro Detroit area.

Megan Raymond


University of Pittsburgh

Megan Raymond is a graduating senior at the University of Pittsburgh, where she majored in Urban Studies with minors in Chemistry and Social Work. She will attend the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine this upcoming fall. During her junior year of college, Megan studied abroad for a semester with SIT on a comparative program, learning about public and community health in South Africa, Argentina, and Vietnam. Research is one of Megan's major interests, having done pediatric cardiology research at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh as well as policy research about Medicaid, Medicare, and caregiver legislation at Pitt's Health Policy Institute. Last summer she won her school's David C. Frederick Public Service Scholarship, and interned with the Health Enrollment Unit at Allegheny County's Department of Human Services. She has a particular interest in child welfare and child advocacy research, and eventually plans to enter the subspecialty of child abuse pediatrics.

Whitney Sherrill


University of Michigan

Whitney Sherrill was born in Detroit, Michigan and now resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is in the process of completing her first year as a Master of Urban Planning student at the University of Michigan. Whitney wants to use the problem-solving skill set she gained within her undergraduate engineering program to solve issues concerning social justice and equal opportunity in the context of urban planning. She is interested in crime and community development, the prison industrial complex, and the interactions that crime has with both informal and formal urban planning. Whitney is also interested in the urban farming movement and the implications it may have for food policy and accessibility in inner city neighborhoods. In her free time, Whitney enjoys learning about new trends in public transportation, photography, salsa dancing, spending time with close friends and family members, and preparing to run the Detroit Marathon.

Efthymia “Efi” Stathopoulou


National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Law School

Efi Stathopoulou was born and raised in Athens. She is a senior student at Athens Law School with a special interest in Humanitarian Law. After graduating from high school, she set up with some classmates a volunteers' community (‘Kallitechneio'), promoting civic engagement through art. She has always been taking part in voluntary projects such as fundraisers and education projects for the non favored children. She is currently a volunteer in 'Greek Council for Refugees' and a Field Team Member in 'Advocates Abroad', working in the legal assistance of refugees and asylum seekers in Greece. Being also a member of the Law School team of Amnesty International, along she organizes events for the promotion of Amnesty International campaigns. After Law School, she aspires to work in an international environment and contribute to the policy making process as regards the protection of human rights.

Hannah Wagner


University of Michigan-Dearborn

Hannah Wagner is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn where she earned a degree in Political Science with a minor in Urban and Regional Studies. This past year she served as the president of her university's Political Science Association, an organization that fosters students' political interest and engagement both on campus and in the local community. Recently she has worked on a number of campaigns and initiatives in and around Detroit, including the Regional Transit Authority's 2016 ballot initiative, the 11th U.S. Congressional district House race, and the United Community Housing Coalition's property tax foreclosure prevention program. Her passion is advocacy work and she plans on attending law school to more fully actualize this passion. She is especially interested in issues of transportation accessibility, equitable and sustainable development, and the role that communities play in shaping the social, political, and economic conditions around them.

Frederik Zoëga

IT University of Copenhagen

Born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark, Frederik Zoëga recently graduated from IT-University of Copenhagen (Master of Science in Information Technology). In the future, he wishes to examine how technology and society is continuing to merge and affect each other. He is especially into social innovation and how public and private partnerships can contribute to a positive social change. He has been working with PR in the public sector, digital design-, innovation- and communication through cases at university, social media at a media agency as well as volunteering on capacity building and development using football as a mediator for change in rural districts in Sierra Leone. In the spring of 2017, he was elected for joining the European Academy at the Danish Think tank Tænketanken Europa, which focuses on European Affairs from a Danish Perspective.