Edward I. Koch Fellows
Ahsanul Abeer is a Bangladeshi-American student studying business administration and management at City College. As a student at City College, Ahsanul involved himself in many activities and opportunities. In his junior year, he participated in the University Innovation Fellows program designed by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner School of Design and trained in the skills of human-centered design. He was also a board member for the Muslim Students Organization as well as a campus representative for the Undergraduate Student Government.
Celine Kiara Agard is a senior and is thrilled to be a part of the Edward I. Koch Fellowship for the 2020-2021 school year. She is currently a history major who is aspiring to be in the law field while working on social activism and political reform. Her family resides in Brooklyn and originally is from the island of St. Lucia. Celine’s favorite hobbies include modeling, singing, doing makeup, and spending time with her close friends. She was drawn to this Fellowship because of her desire to get involved in direct action towards activism and to obtain an experience of an internship for her college career.
Abir is a Yemeni-American student majoring in sociology and minoring in women’s studies. Since she was young, she has always had a passion for understanding the ways in which different social groups struggle and how to solve the hardships in their communities and in society. Seeing as she is a Muslim hijabi woman, she has been interested in how her identity aligns with different existing movements. Growing up, she has always been fascinated by different cultures and her greatest wish is to travel the globe and gain knowledge on the diversity this world has to offer.
Lesly Calle is a fourth-year undergraduate student at The City College of New York and a Macaulay Honors University Scholar. She is pursuing a BA in economics with a minor in public policy and is interested in sustainability, environmental policy, and social justice. As a junior, she was selected to be part of the inaugural class of Climate Policy Fellows by the Colin Powell School of Civic and Global Leadership. As a fellow, she worked with a team to develop a policy brief aimed at providing local and state governments with information about single-use plastic bans that have been implemented around the country. For the Fall 2019 semester, she served as a volunteer for New York Public Interest Research Group where she helped to raise awareness about food insecurity through her work at the food pantry. She is currently an intern for the Department of Student Life and Leadership Development.
Ahtziry Campos is the youngest daughter of Mexican immigrants and a first-generation college student. As a low-income student having experienced housing insecurity, Ahtziry’s background motivates her to help others like herself. After graduation, Ahtziry plans to work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to ensure underrepresented groups are represented in their workplace. Afterward, she will go to law school and bring her legal knowledge back to her community of East Harlem. Ahtziry enjoys reading books about Latinx women and creating collages about her goals. Ahtziry’s acceptance into the SEEK program brought her to City College, where she has decided to major in sociology with a double minor in women’s studies and Latin American and Latino studies.
Sumayea Irna is a first-generation college student attending The City College of New York. When deciding which college she would attend, she had to choose between a private school with a full scholarship or CCNY. However, she decided to attend CCNY because of the SEEK Program, which made her feel included in her new community. Sumayea aspires to be like her father who devoted his time to help the poor communities in Bangladesh. Her mother suffered from mental health issues after the loss of her father. As a result, Sumayea is pursuing a psychology degree at CCNY, and in the future, she aims to become a psychologist. Despite life’s challenges, Sumayea is a compassionate and humble woman who enjoys integrating herself in various activities
Tahiya Islam is an cconomics major with a minor in earth and atmospheric sciences at The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College. The Queens resident was drawn to City College because of its vibrantly diverse and innovative urban campus surrounded by the revolutionary and historical streets of Harlem. She has avid interests in many disciplines and hopes to expand her experience in spaces where her interests intersect with her passions for service, conserving the environment, and helping underserved local and global communities. Tahiya has had the opportunity to research and intern with various organizations including the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the New York City Transit Authority, which have helped her understand her interests on a deeper level. She has also served as a board member for the Women in Islam club at CCNY, which contributes to the campus community by helping to create a safe space for students to engage in religious and social conversations.
Hebh Jamal is widely-regarded as an advocate against education inequality, Islamophobia and the occupation of Palestine. Hebh was profiled on many platforms such as the New York Times, TeenVogue, the Netflix documentary Teach Us All and many more. Currently Hebh is a senior at The City College of New York studying history and political science. She works at the NYU Metro Center as a youth policy fellow as she continues to tackle school segregation. She was also the president of her college’s Students for Justice in Palestine.
Estefania Juarez Zelaya is the daughter of Mexican and Honduran immigrants, and grew up in a household where only Spanish was spoken. Concerned that she would struggle in school, her parents hired an English tutor. Today, Estefania is a first-generation college student who will soon begin her fourth year at CCNY. She is double majoring in political science and international studies with a concentration in international relations. She is also minoring in public policy. The history and the mission of CCNY are features that first brought Estefania to the college. Estefania was fascinated to learn that Townsend Harris had established an institution where access to free higher education based on academic merit alone was provided to children of immigrants and those who did not have many resources. It is wonderful to see that the ideals of opportunity and diversity which CCNY was founded on continue to live on in the campus. Estefania has a great interest in working to address public needs and integrating diverse populations into their communities.
Mariame Karamoko is a first-generation college student at City College, a rising senior, a Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (SEEK) Scholar, SEEK mentor, SEEK tutor, and ANY (America Needs You) alumna. She is an African American, Muslim woman born and raised in East Harlem, New York. Growing up with a single uneducated, and immigrant parent, she has struggled to receive the emotional and academic support from her mother. Mariame sought programs like the Edward Koch Fellowship to expand her network, knowledge, and experience on a professional level in order to be part of the change she wishes to see in her environment. Mariame enjoys writing because she uses writing as a form of therapy. Aside from writing, she is passionate about traveling and learning languages because it exposes her to learn more about languages, culture and people across the globe. She became fascinated with psychology because she wanted to learn and understand why people act, think, and behave the way they do. She strongly believes in healing and improving herself before she can help others. This is why she will obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology followed by a Master’s degree in Mental Health.
Tahmina Jahan Keya is a first-generation college student at The City College of New York who immigrated from Bangladesh in 2012 with her family. She is majoring in psychology and minoring in business administration. Her interest in these fields of study was acquired through various college courses, internships, and networking opportunities. After earning her Bachelor’s degree, she aspires to pursue further education at the SUNY College of Optometry. This will allow her to join a nonprofit organization in the optometry field in order to provide vision care services. Tahmina’s interest in working with nonprofit organizations arose from the educational support she gained throughout middle and high school from nonprofit educational programs. As a result of these experiences, she values the hard work and dedication of nonprofit organizations toward community development. Aside from education, Keya is part of the reservations team at The Department of Student Life & Leadership Development. In this job, she facilitates campus-wide events for student clubs by communicating with different departments.
Sekou is from Guinea-Conakry. He is currently a student at The City College of New York where he is double majoring in Political Science and minoring in Public Policy. He believes being knowledgeable in both politics and economics will prepare him for his future political quest in his country. Sekou is a first-generation college student. He graduated from the Borough of Manhattan Community College in Spring 2019. At BMCC, Sekou served as a mentor in the BMCC Peer Mentor Program and Urban Male Leadership Academy. He also served as the Vice-President of the Association of the Students of African Descents in Fall 2018; as a Senator in the Student Government Association in Spring 2018. Sekou was then elected as the President of the Student Government Association for the 2018-2019 academic year. Sekou is currently working with some CUNY students in organizing a leadership and entrepreneurship conference in Guinea-Conakry. The reason he joined the Koch fellowship in public service is because he wants to learn and make a change in the lives of others.
Tiffany Lacroix is a rising third year in the Sophie Davis Biomedical Program at The City College of New York. Her interest in pursuing a career in the medical field developed after witnessing the devastation in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. She believes that being the Intermediate between life and death is an immeasurable gift. Her pursuit to become a physician is also influenced by the lack of diversity within the healthcare field. Coming from an immigrant family that values education, Tiffany has the phrase “knowledge is power” engrained in her. Her major is biomedical science, but she also minors in African American Studies. This is because she believes in order to be the best physician possible she must equip herself with the knowledge to advocate for the people she aims to treat. Her passion for medicine is coupled with a passion for social justice. She aspires to be an obstetrician gynecologist to not only diversify the field but cater to Black and brown women that are dying disproportionately during childbirth. Her goal is to mitigate the disparities within the medical field and act as a liaison between the Black community and the health care system. Recently, she launched a blog entitled “Black Woman Empowered,” which discusses her journey as a Black woman in STEM and issues that cause the Black community to be disenfranchised.
Ana LuoCai is a fourth year at The City College of New York studying Political Science and Public Policy as a Macaulay Honors student. She is a first-generation college student and a first-generation immigrant, moving from Lima, Peru to New York City as a child. Her immigrant identity and upbringing were key factors in her pursuit of a career in public service and public policy. Throughout her college career, Ana has interned at multiple nonprofit organizations, city government, and a think tank. The common thread with these experiences was the opportunity to help marginalized communities whether through on-the-ground outreach or policy research. This past summer, Ana interned at the 1882 Foundation and OCA National, two nonprofits focused on promoting awareness of Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Additionally, she also worked with the New York City Campaign Finance Board on their #WePowerNYC initiative to bolster youth voter turnout.
Christopher McLean is a political science student at City College with minors in journalism and legal studies. All the way from Staten Island, Christopher is looking forward to being the first college graduate from his family. Since he was little, Christopher’s parents taught him to do whatever he can to help others. This naturally led him to become interested in advocacy work, particularly in environmental conservation. Realizing that the best way for him to help others was by entering public service, he decided to attend City College due to the amazing reputation of the Colin Powell School. While working on his education, Christopher has been working as an environmental activist. For the past two years, Christopher has been working with a nonprofit which has been organizing communities in New York to fight against fossil fuel infrastructure.
Quinnie is a rising senior at the Colin Powell School with an International Studies major. Since her arrival in the United States in October 2013, she embarked on an educational, emotional, and cultural journey. After obtaining her French high school diploma in Libreville, Gabon, her parents decided to send her to the US to pursue her higher education. Quinnie is a hardworking person who is driven by her beliefs and her desire to create a world of greater compassion and equal opportunity. She is passionate about the rights and the proper representation of the communities she is a member of. She understands the need to fight for human rights at large for the continuous creation of a world in which regardless of social background, race, religion, gender and orientation, every person is allowed to safely exist, grow, and prosper in systems built to support them.
Estefany Rodriguez is a senior at The City College of New York currently pursuing a major in sociology and a minor in Latin American studies. As a first-generation student, Estefany was able to pursue a postsecondary education after receiving the DREAM scholarship in 2017. She aspires to work in the nonprofit sector, focusing her efforts on immigration rights and public education. As an undergraduate student, Estefany has interned with Bottom Line and Let’s Get Ready. The two organizations are dedicated to the education and success of first-generation students. As an intern, Estefany has mentored many first-generation students like herself, helping them to navigate and succeed in college.
Gema Romero is a first-generation college student at City College majoring in economics with a double minor in mathematics and psychology. She was born and raised in Queens, New York. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico over twenty-five years ago. She is the youngest of four children and her siblings provide her with inspiration to succeed. Coming from an immigrant household and being able to see her family accomplish so much has made her passionate about helping those in her community and drives her commitment in her multiple roles. In addition to this, she has an interest in environmental issues and hopes to be able to make a positive impact in that sector as well.
Margaret Stone is a senior majoring in english with a creative writing concentration at The City College of New York. An avid writer, she earned the 2020 Esther Unger Poetry Prize. Margaret is a native New Yorker whose passion for education and social justice led her to spend multiple summers working at an academic program for lower-income children. She gained experience tutoring writing as a member of City Tutors, where she worked with High School Equivalency students, and with EduMate NYC, an organization providing New York City public school students with academic support during the COVID-19 pandemic. As an intern with the CCNY chapter of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), she led the Democracy and Voting Rights Campaign in educating students about voting, voter registration, and the census.
Shza Zaki is a senior at the City College of New York where she is double majoring in Political Science and International Studies with a concentration in International Relations. Her interest in political and international affairs stemmed from her experience in participating at Model United Nation conferences, both as a chairperson and a delegate, and at mock trial tournaments as a prosecuting attorney. As an Egyptian immigrant, she understood the value of partaking in international conferences, learning about the law, and advocating for human rights, specifically the rights of minorities. Her experience motivated her to learn more about human rights and the political and social injustices on a national and international basis, which was a primary reason that encouraged her to pursue her degree. During her sophomore year, she volunteered at a startup nonprofit organization as a Marketing Director where she was able to spread awareness on human rights violations that women experience on a global scale. Her leadership experience then drove her to pursue a position in student government where she was inspired to lead, motivate, and serve the student body as an elected Senator and then as the Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Undergraduate Student Government.