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Crane leadership scholars 2015-2016

ali anderson

Crane Scholar Ali Anderson

Ali is a third-year Honors student from Clarksville, Tennessee. She is pursuing a degree in biology and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management. As a CURO Honors Scholar, Ali pursues undergraduate research in the Gottdenker Laboratory. Her current research focuses on the impact of climate change on the proliferation of Chagas Disease in Central America.

At UGA, Ali serves on the executive board of Designated Dawgs, a student-led nonprofit that provides free, nonjudgmental rides home for the Athens community. She also serves the Disability Resource Center as a member of the Speaker’s Bureau, an organization that helps educate the UGA community about disabilities and the resources offered on campus.

As a member of the Speaker’s Bureau, Ali additionally serves as the DRC representative on the Department of Student Affairs Student Advisory Board and as a member of the Diversity Fund Allocations Committee. 

In addition to these on-campus organizations, Ali is serving as an Honors Teaching Assistant for the HONS1000H freshman seminar, as well as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the CURO Honors Scholar seminar class. Ali also serves as a mentor with the Athens-Clarke County School district.

After graduation, Ali intends to volunteer with the Peace Corps for two years, focusing on child and maternal health. Following this two-year service, she hopes to pursue a combined MD/MPH. She plans to one day work with the CDC, focusing on the improvement of overall reproductive health, both domestically and abroad.

sylvia ashley

Crane Scholar Sylvia Ashley

Sylvia Ashley is a third-year Honors student from Grayson, GA majoring in sociology and criminal justice with pre-law intentions.

Since her freshman year, Sylvia has been involved with the UGA Wesley Foundation, where she served as a small group leader for freshman girls and is a student mentor for other small group leaders. Additionally, she is involved with UGA’s Shop With A Bulldawg, serving on the organization’s freshman council and as a mentor each year.

Sylvia has an incredible passion for mitigating juvenile delinquency, specifically through educational reforms. During the spring semester of 2015, she interned with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. There, she fostered positive relationships with children in the justice system through daily interactions in which she facilitated their personal and educational growth.

She is currently a counselor with the Oconee Elementary After School Program, where she works vigorously to create an atmosphere of educational challenge for her students by providing them with homework assistance and creating engaging activities that promote learning. Her love for educational equality inspired her law aspirations. Upon graduation, Sylvia hopes to attend law school and someday become a juvenile court judge.

During the summer of 2015, Sylvia participated in the Honors in Savannah Internship Program as an intern with the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia. Sylvia is currently an event planning chair for the Undergraduate Black Law Student Association. She enjoys planning engagements to connect minority undergraduate students interested in entering the legal field with current law professionals. 

John collar

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John Collar is a fourth-year Honors student from Marietta, GA. He is pursuing a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology with a minor in Spanish. 

John is a member of The Arch Society and is an SGA Senator representing service organizations. He is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Order of Omega, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. 

Community involvement is important to John. He is a member of Rotaract, participates in Habitat for Humanity, and has mentored in the Clarke County School District. He served on the fundraising committee for Inspire UGA.

In the summer of 2014, John was a camp counselor at Camp Kesem, a camp for children whose parents have been affected by cancer. He is currently serving on the Executive Board as a Development Coordinator and will return to Camp Kesem next summer. 

John participated in CURO research last year under Dr. Nancy Manley. His current CURO research under Dr. Jianfu Chen focuses on the Wdr62 gene, whose mutations in humans result in malformations of cortical development. John plans to attend medical school upon completion of his undergraduate studies.

alex edelstein

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Alex Edelstein is a fourth-year Honors student from Johns Creek, GA, pursuing a degree in management information systems. In addition to being a Crane Leadership Scholar, Alex has been named a Leonard Leadership Scholar and HISP Scholar.

At UGA, Alex serves as a Terry Ambassador, the president of the Society of Entrepreneurs, and a founding member of a student coworking space called the “Tree Fort”. The Honors Program supported Alex in furthering his study of Japanese language through the HISP scholarship for a summer language intensive program in Tokyo.

Alex is passionate about entrepreneurship. He spends most of his time outside of academia meeting with different department heads within UGA in an attempt to bring diverse students together to form businesses and tackle problems. Alongside the Society of Entrepreneurs, he has furthered his passion of helping students start businesses by helping to create a dedicated student coworking space and securing potential investors for future student businesses.

In the future, Alex plans to travel the world, develop sustainable consumer electronics, and to continue helping students create their own livelihoods.

allison fialkowski

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Allison Fialkowski is a third-year Honors student from Atlanta, Georgia pursuing a degree in nutrition science with a certificate in disability studies.

As a Sylvia Hutchinson CURO Honors Scholar, Allison conducts research about early intervention for children with autism. After researching for two years with Dr. David Gast, Allison went to Cork, Ireland as an Honors International Scholar and CURO Summer Fellow to work and research at an early intervention center for children with developmental disabilities. She is now continuing to study international autism knowledge with Dr. Ashley Johnson Harrison. 

After her first year at UGA, Allison worked at Camp Twin Lakes, a camp for children with serious illnesses, disabilities, and life challenges. Allison continues to fundraise for and volunteer at camp as the vice president of Camp for a Cause UGA. She takes any opportunity to work weekend camps or go to hospitals to help with camp-to-go events. Aside from her service for Camp Twin Lakes, she works with individuals with autism in the community as an executive board member for AutismUGA and fundraises for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as the Miracle Liaison for her service sorority. 

On campus, Alison mentors students as a teaching assistant for the CURO Honors Scholar program and a resident assistant in Myers Hall. 

After graduation, Allison plans to go to nursing school to receive a Ph.D. to advocate for children with developmental disabilities nationally and internationally and to aid in early intervention for those with disabilities.

chelsea fitzhugh

Crane Scholar Chelsea Fitzhugh

Chelsea Fitzhugh is a fourth-year Honors student majoring in biological science with pre-med intentions. A native of Albany, Georgia, she conducts research as a CURO Scholar in the Department of Infectious Diseases under the mentorship of Dr. Russell Karls.

Chelsea has demonstrated a commitment to service and mentorship. She currently serves as the peer advisor for the Life Sciences Creswell Learning Community. In this role, Chelsea assists a group of first-year students in adjusting to UGA through an intensive First Year Odyssey Seminar, planned activities, and personal advising. She is also a member of the student advisory board for UGA’s chapter of the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), an organization aimed to increase the number of underrepresented minority students excelling in the STEM fields across the state of Georgia. She has also served as an Honors Teaching Assistant.

Chelsea is a member of the Zeta Psi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She has served as the community outreach chair for Georgia Daze, an organization committed to increasing diversity within the student body at UGA, and as historian for UGA’s chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANNRS). She also dedicates her time as a volunteer with Project FOCUS and the Athens Pregnancy Center.

Chelsea is very passionate about women’s health, particularly as it relates to underprivileged and underrepresented groups. She plans to one day practice medicine in primary health care and commit herself to improving health in underserved regions.

houston gaines

Crane Scholar Houston Gaines

Houston Gaines is a third-year Honors student from Athens, Georgia pursuing degrees in political science and economics and a certificate in sports media.

Houston currently serves as the Student Government Association vice president. Through SGA and on behalf of the student body, he helped guide a bill that ultimately passed the Georgia General Assembly and was signed by Governor Deal. Houston also serves as vice president of communications for the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, is a member of the Blue Key Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Dean William Tate Honor Society, and has worked in the Sports Communications Department.

In 2014, Houston served as Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson's campaign manager for her victorious re-election. As campaign manager, he ran the largest fundraising effort in local political history raising nearly $110,000, coordinated a successful grassroots effort, and established a strong earned and paid media strategy.

Houston was a Class of 2015 LEAD Athens graduate – the youngest member in the program's history. As part of the program, he directed his four-person team's effort to raise awareness and funds for families in Athens with children struggling with autism. The team successfully raised $30,000, enough to endow a scholarship through the UGA Foundation to support in perpetuity families desperate for help.

Upon graduation, Houston intends to work in politics and public relations.

jamieson jann

Crane Scholar Trevor Jann

Jamieson Jann is a third-year Honors student from Tucker, GA pursuing a degree in cellular biology and a minor in global health.

This past summer, Jamieson interned at the Vanderbilt Program for LGBTI Health, where he wrote program funding proposals and literature reviews, analyzed electronic health records, and worked as a patient advocate for transgender patients. While there, he was able to publish as first author a letter to the editor in the American Journal of Public Health addressing LGBTI Health competencies in medical education.

Currently, Jamieson facilitates a biweekly Academic Journal Club through the Franklin Residential College to expose students to current public health, history, arts, and literature research in addition to attending a weekly medicine in literature book discussion through the Honors Program. Apart from his academic pursuits, he is a member of Collegium Musicum (a chamber chorale), serves as a University Health Center Safer Sex Ambassador, and volunteers at St. Mary’s Hospice House in Bogart, Georgia.

He has worked as a teaching assistant intern for a general chemistry lab and as a research assistant at the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center for two summers, where he was published as a second author in the Journal of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. He has studied abroad in Oxford, U.K. and Taichung/Taipei, Taiwan. After graduation, Jamieson plans to enter a master’s program in medical humanities and then attend medical school to pursue a career in health education.

mugdha joshi

Crane Scholar Mugdha Joshi

Mugdha Joshi is a fourth year from Alpharetta, GA studying biology and anthropology. She is an Honors Ambassador and a Henry King Stanford Scholar.

On campus, Mugdha is the co-founder of RefUGA, a refugee advocacy organization committed to serving refugees in Athens through service, fundraising, and raising awareness. She also served as a founding board member for the Vibha Academic Bowl Outreach program, which engages local middle and elementary school students in learning through alternative and fun ways. She currently volunteers as a wellness coach through the Kinesiology Department’s Healthy Options Program, which focuses on exercise training for participants with disabilities.

Research has been a big part of Mugdha’s college experience. Under the direction of Dr. Shelley Hooks, and with the support of the CURO Summer Fellowship and the CURO Research Assistantship, she researches the role the protein RGS10 plays in regulating neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative disease. She also presented policy research entitled “Academic Steroids: The Need to Control Adderall Abuse on University Campuses” at the 2013 CURO symposium through her involvement with the Roosevelt Institute.

In 2013, Mugdha spent eight weeks in rural Ghana serving as a schoolteacher and raising public health awareness. She also traveled to Austria and the Czech Republic in summer 2014 with the UGA Hodgson Singers, where they were awarded Grand Prize at the Ave Verum International Choir Competition.

Mugdha is passionate about how science, culture, and the individual human experience contribute to health. After graduation she will continue to pursue her interests in medical school.

hannah mason

Crane Scholar Hannah Mason

Hannah Mason is a third-year Honors student from Peachtree City, Georgia pursuing degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology and Spanish.

At UGA, Hannah pursues her interests in law and ethics by serving as a student justice in University Judiciary and as the standards chairwoman for her chapter of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. She also serves as the student coordinator for Deck Dawgs, the ambassadors for UGA Swim and Dive teams, and helps with football recruiting through the R.O.S.E. Society.

Hannah’s passion is research, and she has conducted research as a Regenerative Bioscience Center (RBC) Fellow studying traumatic brain injuries and cellular therapies since her freshman year. Her sophomore year, she was awarded a CURO Research Assistantship to support her work at the RBC, and she presented her findings at the 2015 CURO Symposium. This past summer Hannah continued her studies of neurodegeneration as an Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) Undergraduate Summer Fellow. During her time in Portland, she attended a conference and presented her work on Parkinson’s disease at the ONPRC Summer Symposium.

In the future, Hannah plans to attend medical school and complete a clinical research fellowship so that she can continue researching neurodegeneration in humans. She hopes one day to bring regenerative medicine therapies to the field of Parkinson’s disease research.

ray paleg

Crane Scholar Ray Paleg

Ray Paleg is a fourth year from Silver Spring, Maryland, pursuing a degree in geography and certificates in geographic information science and African studies. She is a Bernard Ramsey Honors Scholar, Honors International Scholar, and Freeman Foundation Scholar.

Ray spent the summer after her freshman year in Thailand, working at the Maetaman Elephant Sanctuary. She took care of orphaned and threatened elephants and educated visitors about elephant care and the importance of safe shelters for animals. She then traveled to Chiang Mai to help create lesson plans and teach English to novice Buddhist monks.

In the fall of her sophomore year, Ray interned at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in a childhood development center. She worked in a pre-toddler classroom, helping to develop education curriculums and implementing cognitive development activities.

Ray recently returned from a summer in Tanzania, where she interned at KIWAKKUKI HIV/AIDS clinic in their community outreach department. She conducted home care visits to those affected by AIDS and taught local students and workers how to use Microsoft Office software. Ray was awarded the Keds Brave Life Career Grant for her community development work in Tanzania.

On campus, Ray is active in Prelude Dance Ensemble, Omicron Delta Leadership Society, and UGASWA. Ray’s various travel and volunteer experiences have inspired her to pursue a career in international community development and sustainable urban planning.

marco roca

Crane Scholar Marco Roca

Marco Roca is a senior majoring in international affairs, finance, and romance languages. As a CURO Honors Scholar, Marco conducts undergraduate research on international law and political dissident groups.

Marco serves as the President of Honors Program Student Council and is an Honors Ambassador. In SPIA, he is Editor-in-Chief of Georgia Political Review and has competed in Model United Nations since 2012.

As a Terry student, Marco is a member of the Student Managed Investment Fund and Corsair Society, and he enjoyed competing in UGA’s Next Top Entrepreneur freshman year.

In addition to being named a Crane Scholar, Marco was one of two sophomores selected for Blue Key Honor Society and one of twelve freshmen males chosen for Tate society.

One of Marco’s favorite hobbies is working on startups like his family business and Thoughtblox.com. When he is able, Marco also enjoys volunteer work through initiatives like IMPACT UGA.

Marco seeks to learn as much about the world around him as possible. He is fluent in English and Spanish, and he seeks to achieve fluency in French and Portuguese by graduation. Through different study abroad and internship programs, Marco has been able to spend time on every continent except Antarctica.

miranda russell

Crane Scholar Miranda Russell

Miranda Russell is a third-year Honors student from Marietta, Georgia pursing degrees in economics, history, and Spanish. She is also pursuing a minor in theatre and a certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

After graduation, Miranda aims to attend law school.
At UGA, Miranda serves as a site leader for UGA IMPACT Service Breaks. Last year, she led a trip over spring break to Charlotte, NC focusing on the theme of education advocacy, and this year, she will lead a trip over winter break to Savannah, GA focusing on the theme of rural homelessness and poverty. Additionally, she serves as the co-president of First Book UGA, an organization whose mission is to promote literacy in the Athens-Clarke community by providing underprivileged students with new books. Miranda is also a member of the Demosthenian Literary Society, and as the Society’s preservationist, she oversees the restoration of Demosthenian Hall’s antique furnishings.

In addition to these organizations, Miranda is also an Honors Teaching Assistant for the HONS1000H freshman seminar class, a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, and a mentor at Coile Middle School.

As a member of the Civil Rights Digital Library Research Team, she collected research on Bob Cole, an early 20th century African-American musician from Athens, under the supervision of Dr. Barbara McCaskill and presented her work at the Athens Music Project's event at the Morton Theatre in March 2014. The Team’s current project involves connecting images from the Digital Library to Taylor Branch’s biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

juhi Varshney

Crane Scholar Juhi Varshney

Juhi Varshney is a third-year Honors student from Rome, GA pursuing degrees in biochemistry & molecular biology and women’s studies.

Juhi serves as a member of the Arch Society. She is a captain for Champa & Chameli and the dean of women for the Dean William Tate Honor Society. She is involved in Omicron Delta Kappa, Women’s Outreach Resource Center, and the Indian Cultural Exchange.

Juhi worked in the WAFER Lab with Dr. Malissa Clark to study how gender moderates work-family conflict coping strategies and was awarded second place at the 39th Annual Psi Chi Convention for her poster. She also presented a paper on Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance form, at the 2015 Southeastern Women’s Studies Association Conference in Boca Raton, FL. Now, Juhi works with Dr. Melissa Davis of the Genetics Department to study transcription factors that regulate gene expression in triple-negative breast cancer.

On campus, Juhi tutors chemistry with the Academic Resource Center. She is currently an intern for the Women and Girls in Georgia Conference and an Honors Teaching Assistant. She volunteered abroad in summer 2014 at the women’s department of Jalna Mission Hospital located in Jalna, India. Juhi spent this past summer volunteering at Women of WORTH, a clinic that offers comprehensive gynecological services on a sliding scale in her hometown of Rome, GA. She now serves on its board of directors.

Juhi is fascinated by the intersection of identities, personal narratives, and healthcare disparities. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in women’s health.

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