LEVAN UNDERGRADUATE FELLOWS
The Levan Undergraduate Fellows serve as ambassadors for the institute and work closely with Dr. Lyn Boyd-Judson, director of the Levan Institute, on designing and implementing mission-related projects. The program provides an interdisciplinary cohort-based experience that offers students the opportunity to integrate their academic interests with Dornsife programming and events.
Levan Undergraduate Fellow application information for the 2015-2016 school year will be posted during the Spring 2015 semseter.
Alexa Mencia, Dornsife '15
Alexa Mencia is majoring in International Relations and minoring in Human Rights. With her focus on foreign policy analysis, Alexa hopes to influence policy-making globally in order to reduce human rights violations and to promote international peace. This semester Alexa is studying abroad at King's College London and is completing coursework in the unique War Studies department. In her studies abroad, she hopes to develop her understanding of conflict in order to foster resolution of or deterrence from violence. In past summers, Alexa participated in a field research program in Egypt and Turkey, analyzing the education systems of these two Islamic democracies. In September 2013, Alexa presented her research in a panel at the 2013 ISA West Annual Conference, and she is in the process of publishing her work with the Southern California International Review. Alexa Mencia is the proud co-founder of the ONE Campaign chapter on USC's campus, an organization that aims to eradicate poverty and preventable disease in sub-Saharan Africa. She is also a member of the USC Helenes, a service organization and the official hostesses of USC. Alexa hopes that her influence on campus will direct her towards a career path that improves policy and government relations in the future.
Drew Schmidt, Dornsife '16
Drew Schmidt is majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Law with a minor in Business Finance and hopes to synthesize the two as an advocate for institutional change that benefits the poor and marginalized. Drew is the student assistant for the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study: an organization dedicated to promoting interdisciplinary thinking and problem-solving. He believes that interdisciplinary thought and practice are crucial to developing as a thinker and person. Drew is also the Vice President of Competition for the Model United Nations of Southern California. He loves MUN because it is an opportunity to incorporate research, public-speaking, philosophy, and performance. Drew will be training a brigade this semester to visit Panama as small-business consultants in January 2015 with Global Brigades at Marshall. Global Brigades at Marshall enabled Drew to travel to Honduras in Spring 2014 as a micro finance consultant, and he enjoyed it so much he got involved with the organization directly. Drew loves theatre, singing, philosophy, and conversation and hopes to use what he's learning to make the world a more just place.
Emily Hodgkins, Dornsife '16
Emily Hodgkins is a Junior majoring in History with minors in German Studies, Cinematic Arts, and Architecture. Her main interests, combining these different fields of study, lie in the history of popular political culture. This semester, she began work as a research assistant for Professor Peter Mancall, aiding him in his work on The Oxford History of the United States, Vol. I. She was recently the recipient of the Banner Award, which honors the best undergraduate research paper in the history department, for her term paper "Twist and Shout: Rock 'n' Roll and Youth Rebellion in the German Democratic Republic, 1956-1966." She was able to increase her German language skills this past summer through courses and travel in Germany and Switzerland, thanks to grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and USC. She is Assistant Director of the Political Student Assembly, which is part of Undergraduate Student Government, where she coordinates and funds organizations on campus with political affiliation. Since the summer of 2013, she has worked in the USC Special Collections, where she has organized and composed finding aids for collections housed in the library's German Exiles department. She is also a member of Helenes, which is an all-female service organization and the official hostesses of USC.
Esther J. Lee, Dornsife '15
With interests in both global affairs and health, Esther J. Lee is currently a senior pursuing a major in Health and Humanity and a minor in International Relations. She has worked in the healthcare setting as an intern at St. Francis Medical Center and as a volunteer in Nicaragua's rural towns through VIDA Volunteer. Over the past summer, she has traveled to Oxford University St. Catherine's College through USC's Problems Without Passports, during which her interest in public health and global mental health grew. In terms of her involvement on campus, she is the Vice President of Membership of USC's World Vision ACT:S, a student branch of World Vision, which aims to raise awareness of social injustice through creative means. She also serves as the co-coordinator of the Hunger Campaign, one of the organization's major focuses. During her free time, she enjoys baking, reading books and articles about WWII, and catching up with friends over breakfast or brunch. She is happy to be hosting Bible studies on campus in partnership with her home church that is located in Anaheim. Esther is thankful to be attending USC as a Presidential Scholar and Dean Joan Metcalf Schaefer Scholar and hopes to maximize the opportunities available through the Levan Institute to bring attention to various ethical issues.
Evan Pye, Dornsife '15
Evan Pye is a junior majoring in Global Health. He founded a student organization called Project Africa in his sophomore year with the goal of researching and implementing high-impact solutions to global poverty. Project Africa partnered with a Ugandan nonprofit called the Global Health Network last summer to arrange a 3-week service trip focused on child and maternal health. This year, he worked with the Volunteer Center to offer USC's first Alternative Summer Break to Uganda. He serves as the Student Coordinator for 20 students who will return to Uganda to implement an income generation project and construct a biogas digester that will convert animal waste into high-nutrient fertilizer.
Katelyn Masket, Dornsife '15
Katelyn is pursuing a double major in International Relations and Economics with a Spanish minor. She is spending her spring semester in Madrid, Spain, where she hopes to brush off her Spanish language skills and learn about international relations and ethics from a new, global perspective. In previous summers, Katelyn traveled to Egypt and Turkey to conduct research on religion and democracy in the region and to Sweden, Russia, and Finland through USC’s Problems without Passports to study environmental issues and indigenous populations in the arctic. On campus, Katelyn is a part of Women and Youth Supporting Each Other, Challah for Hunger, and the Teaching International Relations Program. She also claims to have unhealthy addictions to college football, cheesy inspirational quotes, Ben Franklin, vegetarian cuisine, and "Scandal."
Linda Wang, Dornsife '15
Linda Wang is a senior, double-majoring in Sociology and Philosophy, Politics and Law. She enjoys engaging in productive discourse, and she is excited to be a part of the Levan Institute. During her college career, she has been a member of several student groups and volunteer organizations, interned in both the private and non-profit sectors, tutored the SAT to first-generation students, volunteered in medical clinics in the Dominican Republic, conducted linguistic field research in Taiwan, and walked backwards around campus as a tour guide. She is spending her fall semester studying in Dakar, Senegal.
Lynne Ryleigh Chen, Dornsife ’14 and Marshall ‘14
Ryleigh Chen is a senior pursuing double majors in International Relations and Business Administration with a concentration in the International Political Economy and a minor in International Policy and Management. Her interest in increasing student engagement with ethics and humanities has led her to her current position as the Director of Outreach and Collaborations for Levan Institute, in which she is currently working on a video project on the ethics of voluntarism with the Alternative Spring Break groups of the USC Volunteer Center. She is also an intern with the Center of Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events at USC and an undergraduate research assistant for the C.C. Crawford Chair at the Price School of Public Policy. Ryleigh hopes to work in global development and after graduation, plans on taking the Foreign Service Officer Test before pursuing her law degree.
Matthew Prusak, Dornsife '15
Matthew Prusak is currently a senior majoring in International Relations (Global Business) with a focus on global management. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Southern California International Review, the largest undergraduate journal of international relations on the West Coast and Vice President of Los Angeles Community Impact, a pro bono student consulting group for small businesses and non-profits in the Los Angeles area. He also served as a Senator in USC’s Undergraduate Student Government. In his free time, he enjoys participating in events at the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study.
While a student at USC, Matthew has traveled extensively, spending summers interning in Hong Kong and in Indonesia. Additionally, he has published research articles in academic journals on the economies of both Myanmar and North Korea – conducting field research in the latter. His writing received first place in both Professional Writing and Global Ethics at the 2014 USC Writers’ Conference. Currently, he is studying abroad at the University of Cambridge.
Melia Albrecht, Dornsife '15
Melia Albrecht is currently a junior majoring in International Relations and Public Relations. She aims to foster global education and build cultural competence through digital media and is completing an honors program in multimedia scholarship. Melia was born in Frankfurt, Germany and has had the travel bug her whole life. This past summer, Melia participated in a trip to Egypt and Turkey, where she completed field research on women’s rights and presented her findings at the 2013 ISA West Annual Conference. As a recipient of the 2013 CIEE South Korea Scholarship, Melia served as a student ambassador for the United States in South Korea and continues to represent the organization, helping to build awareness about the country’s culture. Most recently, she was selected to represent USC in March at the University of Oxford.
Melia is proud to be involved in her community as a member of Troy Camp, a social and educational program for K-12 students in the Los Angeles area, and Best Buddies, a mentoring program for high school students with physical and intellectual disabilities. She is a teacher through the Teaching International Relations Program and is grateful to be a part of Journeys in Film, an organization that create global film lesson plans for middle school students. Melia is honored to be able to represent her university as a Helene, a Dornsife Ambassador, and a member of the Marshall Women’s Leadership Board.
Melia currently works for the Discovery Channel and TLC at Discovery Communications and is a research assistant for a global film project through the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Previously, Melia worked at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. Melia is currently attending USC as a Trustee Scholar and is a member of the honor societies Lambda Pi Eta and Pi Sigma Alpha for her achievement in her major studies. She is a recipient of the M. Jones Scholarship for Women.
Mushfiqur Chowdhury, Dornsife ‘15
Mushfiqur Chowdhury is a junior double majoring in International Relations and Middle East Studies. He currently serves as the External Vice-President of the Muslim Student Union and co-chaired the 1200-plus attendee Muslim Student Associations of the West three-day conference. While at USC, Mushfiqur obtained sponsorship to travel to Turkey and Israel to explore popular discourse, better understand the importance of NGOs, teach English, and bring back cultural understanding. His career pursuits are that of foreign policy, and he hopes to work in conflict resolution and peace negotiation. Mushfiqur was awarded the HSBC Fellow grant to do research on the partition of India in 1947. He focused on the effects on the Bengal border, which effectively led to the independence and creation of the current day country, Bangladesh. Furthermore, he recently traveled to Northern Iraq and examined Kurdistan’s semi-autonomous status, something unique to International Relations.
Orli Robin, Dornsife '15
A poet and synesthete, Orli Robin studies Creative Writing and double-minors in Judaic Studies and Resistance to Genocide. She works as a Research Assistant to Distinguished Professor of History, Douglas Greenberg (Rutgers University), at the USC Shoah Foundation visual history archive, where she co-authored the Foundation’s iTunes U online media platform, co-founded the adjunct student association, and most recently, worked to build 3-D interactive Holocaust testimony as part of New Dimensions in Testimony with the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. In Spring 2014, she served as the First Assistant at the Foundation’s annual Ambassadors for Humanity Gala, honoring President Barack Obama.
Orli is an administrative assistant at KAYA Press, a non-profit publishing house that prints literature of the Asian diasporas, where in 2014 she worked on manuscript editorial, press kit, and social media for three of Kaya’s forthcoming releases. She is a member of the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study and a soloist with the USC Thornton Early Music Collegium Workshop. Orli studied creative nonfiction at the Yale Writers' Conference in Summer 2012 and 2013 and was selected to participate in the Spring 2014 Levan Institute one-week intensive workshop on Human Rights at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict. A USC Casden Institute scholarship recipient, she was appointed a summer research fellowship at the Center for Advanced Genocide Research and a research assistantship from Rutgers University, combining her love of literature, storytelling, and archival testimony. Orli’s creative memoir—“Twirl”— won 1st place at the 2014 USC Writers’ Conference and placed fifth in the Edward W. Moses Undergraduate Creative Writing Competition. She recently published a presentation on fiction, global justice, and polyphony at the University of Paris 8’s research institute for political theories and presented this work at the Levan Institute’s 2012 Global Justice (II) Conference at Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris.
This year, Orli is excited to serve as the Levan Fellows’ Director of Narrative and Archival Development as she cofounds the Social Justice Review—Levan’s new cross-genre, interdisciplinary journal— and the Institute’s new research initiative, Give&Take Narratives.
Shreya Tanna, Dornsife '16
Shreya Tanna is a junior with a major in Psychology and a minor in Philosophy. Her interest in Philosophy started early on in high school when she took a Theory of Knowledge class which opened her eyes to the philosophical issues in her everyday life. This class led her to pursue her interest in Philosophy in college through her academics and her extracurriculars.
At USC, she is a proud member of the Helenes, an all-women service organization which serves the off-campus and on-campus community. In the club, she is the Director of Jr. Helenes, an outreach branch at USC CAE which helps high school students complete the volunteer hours necessary to graduate. For many students (and for Shreya as well) Jr. Helenes has become a tight-knit community that they can count on for mentorship. She is also the Activities Coordinator for Kicks for Kids, an organization which puts on weekly soccer events for physically/mentally disabled children. Kicks for Kids promotes healthy living and aims to help volunteers see these children for their strengths—not for their disabilities.
Shreya has a passion for education, which can be seen through her work with nonprofits such as CollegeSpring and Girls Inc. She was able to combine this passion with her love of Philosophy through the Teaching Ethics Program and is excited to continue her interdisciplinary work in Philosophy through the Levan Fellows.
Winona Leon, Dornsife '15
Winona Leon is a senior studying creative writing and fine arts. In the past, her creative research interests have focused on the relationship between space and narrative in overlooked or forgotten communities. Her research recently culminated in a yearlong painting project about Los Angeles gentrified communities under the support of the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, and she is currently at work on a short story collection revolving around a single town. Hoping to pursue a career in publishing, she has interned for Gold Line Press, Kaya Press, and Hachette Book Group. She also cofounded and co-edits Fractal Literary Magazine and now serves as a marketing assistant for a literary PR company and independent publisher Rare Bird, based in downtown Los Angeles.
Sample Undergraduate Fellow Contributions
The ZYGO Series is a joint program of the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics and the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study
The series is organized by USC students in health and medicine who seek dialogue with USC faculty across disciplines in order to increase the integration of ethical themes into their curriculum.
zygo / ˈzʌɪgəʊ, ˈzɪgəʊ / pref. relating to union or joining.
Give&Take Narratives give undergraduate USC students the opportunity to use film as a tool in reflecting upon their own perceptions, encounters, and ethical dilemmas before, during, and after their domestic and overseas alternative break trips. This model strives to capture the transformation of students throughout the course of their experience with regard to their own views on the ethics of voluntarism. Ultimately, this project will shed light on the volunteer work experience and query the optimal balance between what one takes away from individual experience and what one gives to those communities as a student volunteer.