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Students

Haley Elszasz

Hayley Elszasz is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Politics Department at UVA. Her dissertation is about the intersections between climate and democracy in American cities; specifically, how residents get involved in making climate mitigation policy decisions in their localities. Hayley also works on the Democratic Futures Project in the Philippines, through which she assists democracy advocates who study rural conceptions of democracy. Her work for the project includes cleaning and analyzing interview and survey data as well as advising on social science research methodologies. 

Angela Grey-Theriot

Angela Grey-Theriot is a fourth-year student majoring in Leadership and Public Policy and minoring in Global Studies in Education. Angela is a first-generation Ghanaian American, driven to improve disparities in civil rights, education, healthcare, and food insecurity domestically and globally. She's served as President of Black Student Leaders in Policy, Director of External Affairs for The Equity Collab, Treasurer of the Undergraduate Black Law Student Association, and a peer advisor for the Office of African American Affairs. As Executive Editor of Cultural and Educational Projects for the New City Community Press, Angela helps edit and publish books oriented towards global advocacy and social justice. Projects include an anthology showcasing the younger generation's commitment to forward-looking solutions, and an IRB study which analyzes the experiences and viewpoints of Black women attending predominantly white institutions.

Sarah Menchavez

Sarah Menchavez is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Global Studies and minoring in Data Science. Her current capstone research revolves around the emerging virtual economy and recent changes to cyber sex work and cyber sex trafficking industries in Southeast Asian countries. Sarah is interested in the role that technology, digital literacy, and IT infrastructure play in ethical data collection under rising global inequality. Cross-referencing various measures from Economist Intelligence Unit and Freedom House reports, Sarah’s work with the Democratic Futures Project will assess the state of democracy, globally, with an aim toward effectively communicating stories uncovered through data analysis.

Eliza Piche

Eliza Piche is a first-year Echols Scholar pursuing a double major in Global Public Health and Public Policy. In her future career she hopes to do advocacy work focusing on ameliorating the health challenges that marginalized groups face. Eliza has worked with Evan Mawarire to create a modular system for teaching African pastors how to be more politically involved within their community. She is currently interning at the Presidential Precinct in Charlottesville, to identify the humanitarian advocates fighting for greater democracy, who will be invited to further develop their advocacy work with the Precinct’s Democracy Fellowship program. 

Peyton Russell

Peyton Russell is a second-year majoring in Economics and minoring in Spanish. She is also enrolled in the accelerated Master of Public Policy program. In her time at UVA, she has explored different perspectives on the economic and political struggles present in developing nations. Most recently, she worked with the Burmese Democratic Futures Writing Group to share the stories of various citizens of Myanmar, and their global call to action in support of democracy. She intends to continue her role as a democratic advocate through studies of development policy and non-violent demonstrations and movements

Lauren Taylor

Lauren Taylor is a second-year majoring in Global Studies with minors in bioethics and Spanish. She intends to become a physician to address global health disparities from a community-based participatory development approach. She collaborated with Myo Yan Naung Thein to share the narratives and entreaties for global assistance from Burmese refugees fighting to reestablish democracy after the recent military coup. As a member of the Minority Rights Coalition, she works to educate the university on historically marginalized people’s experiences. Lauren intends to examine different perspectives on development policies originating in the Global South and continue advocating for nonviolent, democratic movements.

Tanvika Vegiraju

Tanvika Vegiraju is a third-year undergraduate student, with a double major in Neuroscience and English. She hopes to attend medical school in the future; ultimately, she wants to pursue a career in global health with a focus on infectious diseases. As a result, she is interested in studying how basic health needs are affected globally during times of war and conflict. She is currently writing a research article on the Myanmar health crisis as a model for the historical trend of how militaries weaponize human health.

Grace Gent

Grace Gent is a first-year Echols scholar, double majoring in English and Foreign Affairs. She plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in commercial publishing. She hopes to use her global advocacy background to amplify works that tackle contemporary issues of race, gender, sexuality, and class. She is currently working on several projects as an editorial intern at New City Community Press. She previously worked with Evan Mawarire to develop the Pastor Advocacy Institute, a program that aims to teach young African pastors how to effectively organize for political and social reform within their communities.

Patrick Lambrecht

Patrick Lambrecht is a second-year undergraduate majoring in global security & justice. He is interested in interstate conflict and aims to use his interdisciplinary education to understand how cultural differences influence conflict. He hopes to work in international relations, with the goal of finding diplomatic solutions to avoid kinetic confrontations between states. Currently, he is interning with the Democratic Futures Project to document the efforts of Burmese democratic advocates. His work has included writing and publishing biographies of democratic activists facing persecution from Myanmar’s ruling junta.

Madison Obermeyer

Madison Obermeyer is a second-year Echols Scholar and a double major in economics and politics. She hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in rights litigation within supranational organizations. Madison is interested in the global interplay of power, especially between historically marginalized political groups and contingencies that perpetuate authority. Madison is interning with Srdja Popovic and CANVAS to construct a course on backsliding democracies. This entails a comparative case-study analysis of current regimes to determine what factors influence machine politics and how external constituencies can undermine such systems through nonviolent means.

Pratha Purushottam

Pratha Purushottam is a second-year double majoring in Political Philosophy, Policy & Law, and Foreign Affairs. Her current research interests include human rights, arbitrary detention, best practices to prevent genocide, and the latter’s wider impact. Pratha is currently writing an article for the Undergraduate Law Review about the due process rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees. She intends to pursue a career in international human rights law. Recently, she collaborated with the Burmese Democratic Futures Writing Group and Myo Yan Naung Thein to edit and compile interviews with Burmese refugees into a book meant to provide an international platform and call to action. Pratha plans to continue her advocacy efforts by advocating for democracy globally.

Yossra Samghouli

Yossra Samghouli is a first-year Echols and Walentas scholar studying foreign affairs with a minor in Spanish or Arabic. Yossra is a first-generation university student and a Muslim woman of color passionate about advocating for underserved communities. She’s involved in community-oriented initiatives to address structural inequities as an assistant manager at a social policy-based research lab at the Darden School, with a particular interest in the complexity of belonging. Her research will inform efforts aimed at promoting social connection and well-being within the college community and beyond. Yossra plans to pursue a career in governmental policy, international legal work, and human rights advocacy. 

Keya Turkiewicz

Keya Turkiewicz is a second-year Echols scholar, majoring in cognitive science and global development studies. She plans to use this interdisciplinary background in culturally-informed research about the benefits of education for populations that face ongoing violence and oppression, as part of the international non-profit sector. She is part of the Starr Hill Pathways Program, which provides mentorship to lower-income BIPOC youth from schools in the region. She currently works with Evan Mawarire to develop his Pastor Advocacy Institute, which will train young ministers in Southern Africa to use their platforms to create democratic movements for change in their communities.

Gloria Wu

Gloria Wu is a fourth year undergraduate student studying Foreign Affairs and Anthropology at UVA. Her research focuses on human rights, diversity and equity in politics, and grassroots mobilization. She is currently working on a project for the Burmese Democratic Futures Working Group to document demonstrations, election updates, military clashes, political events and human rights violations taking place in Myanmar. She participated in a book project to document the experiences of people displaced by the Military Coup in 2021. She is also an intern for the Center of Politics, working on nonpartisan political advocacy and education projects. Additionally, she is the intern for the Multilingual Outreach Volunteer Effort that translates critical documents for immigrant and non-native English speakers in the greater Charlottesville area. She is very involved in student groups at UVA, including being Diversity, Equity and Inclusion chair for Fourth Year Council (Trustees). She is also involved in APISAA organizations that are for empowerment, community building, and upliftment. 

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