2018 Rudolph Scholar at the Clinton School for Public Service

Mariella Hernandez, 2018 Rudolph Scholar at the Clinton School for Public Service

Mariella Hernandez, of Guayaquil, Ecuador, is a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Mariella is a Donaghey Scholar and graduated cum laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies. Prior to her graduate studies, she has been working as a certified medical interpreter and advocating for Hispanic patients’ rights to access healthcare. This summer she will intern in Panama with Give and Surf, where she will work to address the health and nutritional needs of communities in the island of Bastimentos. Mariella is passionate about reducing health inequities by addressing the social determinants of health disparities and hopes to make contributions in this field upon graduation. Her goal is to use her advantages to empower others, specifically by enabling the marginalized and disenfranchised access care that will increase their well-being.

2018 Graduate Public Service Scholars

Austyn Holleman

Austyn Holleman is a master’s candidate in social work and public health, specializing in maternal and infant health at the University of North Carolina. Originally from Raleigh, NC, Austyn also holds a bachelor’s degree in global studies from UNC.  Austyn has also served as an Americorps VISTA in Charleston, SC at the Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center and is a certified childbirth doula, a job that has sparked her passion for reproductive justice and decreasing disparities in birth outcomes for marginalized populations. This summer, Austyn will intern with the Maternal Mental Health Program at Mary’s Center, a large community health non-profit in the D.C. area.  She will focus on program evaluation, community outreach, and education on maternal mental health.

Sacred Huff

Sacred B. Huff is a J.D. candidate at the George Washington University. Originally from Alabama, Sacred graduated from the University of Alabama with a B.A. in sociology. This summer, Sacred will intern at Bread for the City, a non-profit organization that provides legal services to low-income individuals in Washington, D.C. Upon completion of law school, Sacred intends to practice in civil rights law, primarily focusing on economic justice.

Sacred prides herself in being an activist. Sacred has served as the advocacy liaison for GW’s Black Law Students Association, coordinating their participation in social justice initiatives and community service projects. She is also an advocate and mentor for youth in foster care—a passion that stems from her own experience.

Vanessa Miller

Originally from Miami, Florida, Vanessa Miller is a first-born generation Cuban-American. She received her undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Florida and her master’s degree in philosophy and education from Columbia University. Vanessa is a J.D. candidate at Penn State Law and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Education Policy Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. She has presented papers on the relationship between colleges and the courts and interned for the Honorable Magistrate Judge Arbuckle, III, the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office, and the Penn State Law Civil Rights Appellate Clinic. This summer, Vanessa is interning with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Anabel Reyes-Ovalles

Anabel Reyes-Ovalles is currently pursuing a master’s degree in terrorism and homeland security policy at American University. Anabel was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Lawrence, MA when she was nine. She attended Union College in Schenectady, New York, where Anabel volunteered with the Science and Technology Entry Program for inner-city youth. She also studied abroad in Brazil, researched child trafficking during the 2014 World Cup, and interned at the Centre for Human Rights and Development in Mongolia. This summer, she is interning at the Justice Programs Office at American University. 

2018 STEM Scholars

Sonia Adame

Sonia Adame is a rising senior at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is currently a double major in social work and biological science with a concentration in anatomy. Sonia is in the Water Sustainability Fellowship Program at CSU. She is also the president of Dreamers United at CSU and provides resources and support for Dreamers on campus. With the support of the B.A Rudolph Foundation, Sonia will continue her service interning with the Colorado Water Institute. She will be working with the communities of Elyria-Swansea and Globeville in the Denver Metro Area. Sonia will mentor local students and work with the community to solve and educate about the water issues that this community faces. After graduation, Sonia aspires to enter the dual master’s program in public health and social work at the Colorado School of Public Health.

Paradyse Blackwood

Paradyse Blackwood is from Kingston, New York and recently graduated from Binghamton University (SUNY) with a Bachelor of Science in integrative neuroscience. While attending Binghamton, Paradyse was a member of Dr. Jessica Hua’s disease ecology and ecotoxicology laboratory where she researched disease ecology and reached out to the local community. This summer, Paradyse will investigate how animals respond to challenges in their environments with Dr. Talisin Hammond at the University of Pittsburgh Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology. She is interested in how anthropogenic stressors affect disease dynamics in wetlands organisms and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology, evolution, and behavior. Ultimately, Paradyse plans to become a professor at a research university with her own laboratory and mentor students, especially women in the field and to conduct outreach with the local community to expose young people to wonders of science.

Lauren Harnedy

Lauren Harnedy is from the Boston area and majoring in psychology at the Commonwealth Honors College of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Lauren has always been passionate about psychology and has become a dedicated researcher since enrolling in college. When she’s not in class, Lauren spends her time assisting in two psychology research lab and working as a research mentor at the library on campus. This summer, she will be a research assistant in the Nock Lab at Harvard University which studies self-harming behaviors and suicidality. Lauren aspires to earn her Ph.D. in clinical psychology and have a career where she can work with patients while continuing to conduct research.

Belinda Joseph 

A recent graduate of Valencia College, Belinda Joseph is now a rising junior at the University of Central Florida pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. She first became interested in the field after childhood experiences in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, shower her that unstable infrastructure can lead to disastrous circumstances. Belinda has conducted research in an applied sciences lab and developed a love for research that redefined her career goals. Outside of class, she serves as the senator of scholarship of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, which serves to help implement strategies to promote peace in the community. This summer Belinda will be working in the power gas division of Siemens Energy Inc. Her project focuses on the optimization of Flex Generation dispatch. Belinda hopes to one day earn a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering.

Kathy Le

Kathy Le grew up in Baltimore, MD and is a first-generation student at Johns Hopkins University, where she is a biophysics major. She is the co-president of her university’s chapter of the Triple Helix, a science journalism group. She also co-designed and taught a new “Transitioning to College” weekly course for MERIT, a nonprofit organization that aims to encourage and prepare Baltimore students to pursue science and health professions. This summer, Kathy will be a researcher in a lab at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, studying stem cell competition and genetic disorders. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to earn her Ph.D. in biophysics.

Valeria Torres

Valeria Torres is a biology student at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey. In 2017, she had an internship at the University of Minnesota and today, she leads a molecular biology project in a research lab at her university. She has presented her project numerous times in conferences, including the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Valeria is also the president of her university chapter of SACNAS and volunteers for Ronderos de la Montaña organization, which provides the basic needs to homeless people at Cayey. This summer, Valeria will continue her work in molecular biology project at UPR Cayey in order to write her first scientific publication. She is also working on a certification to perform autopsies and, long-term hopes to get an M.D./Ph.D. and become a forensic pathologist and researcher.

Michelle Walls

Michelle Walls grew up in Southfield, MI and is currently a student at Michigan State University, where she is a genetics and molecular genomics major on a pre-medical track. She is one of the three percent of former foster youth in the United States to complete a four-year degree. In her spare time, she commits to advocating for policy to improve the child welfare system by organizing with the Michigan State University FAME program and the National Foster Youth Institute.  This summer, Michelle will assist in clinical studies at Michigan State to determine how the epigenome differences between twins with and without hypertension to learn about the disease mechanisms. She hopes to use epigenetics to one day develop a noninvasive diagnostic based on one’s epigenetic imprint to determine individualized integrative treatment plans.

Nicole Williams

Nicole Williams is from Virginia and will complete her A.S. in computer science at Northern Virginia Community College this fall. This summer, Nicole will be working with Womanium Foundation on artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the past, Nicole has worked with Gartner, HMN LLC, etc. and co-founded an educational non-profit while she was in high school. Nicole also researches how extracellular miRNA concentration can be understood through machine learning to improve cancer diagnosis, and plans to pursue her career in the emerging fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

2018 Undergraduate Public Service Scholars

Yeabsira Asrat

Yeabsira Asrat is a rising senior at Barnard College double majoring in political science and Africana studies. She is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by way of Philadelphia. At Barnard, she is vice president of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Students Association and a peer-to-peer French language tutor. Last summer, Yeabsira studied abroad in Morocco where she continued to learn Arabic and conducted a research project on the refugee crisis in Morocco. This summer she will be working at Church World Service as an immigration and policy intern. Eventually, Yeabsira plans to attend law school in order to become an immigration lawyer to provide legal aid to immigrants and refugees in the United States.

Blaythe Ayala

Blaythe Ayala is a rising senior at the University of California, Berkeley. Originally from Norwalk, California, Blaythe is triple majoring in political science, social welfare, and Spanish. On campus, Blaythe serves as a lobbyist for the Office of the External Vice President, advocating for sexual assault prevention and education, higher accessibility to education, and immigrant students’ rights. She also works as the on-site coordinator of the Multicultural Institute, a non-profit where she created a social justice curriculum for low-income minority students. This summer, Blaythe will intern in the Office of Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. By interning for the representative of her district, Blaythe aims to give back to her community and ensure underrepresented communities obtain access to an equal and equitable democracy.

Esder Chong

Esder is a rising junior at Rutgers University-Newark, pursuing a major in philosophy and minors in writing and business administration. She currently serves as founder and president of RU Dreamers, a student organization that advocates for undocumented students’ access to higher education. Through RU Dreamers, Esder worked closely with the Rutgers administration to hire a senior program coordinator for undocumented students. Esder recently received the 2018 Women’s History Month Award from Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey. Last summer, she was an intern for the National Immigration Law Center. This summer, she will intern at the George Washington Law School Immigration Clinic. Esder aspires to a career in public policy and law, focusing on the intersectionality between immigration and civil rights law.

Audrey Fisher

Audrey Fisher received a Bachelor of Science in nursing with highest honors from Emory University earlier this year. She was awarded the Excellence in Social Responsibility award for her thesis and policy work regarding incarcerated pregnant women in the city of Atlanta. As an officer for her school chapter of the National Student Nurses Association, she promoted improved access to family planning methods at the state and national conventions. This summer Audrey will be working with the Government Affairs Department of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing where she will promote innovations to improve healthcare policy in the United States. Eventually, Audrey plans to obtain her Juris Doctorate and Ph.D. in nursing to allow her to best serve the health and dignity of all people.

Angela Frimpong

Angela is a rising junior at Grinnell College where she is pursuing a major in biology with a concentration in global development studies. On campus, Angela serves as a senator in the Student Government Association. Angela is interested in incorporating critical thinking into education as a tool for international development. Last summer, she interned at an anti-slavery non-profit called Challenging Heights in Accra, Ghana. With support from the B.A. Rudolph Foundation, Angela will intern at Bread for the World this summer and hopes to get an overview of how faith can inspire policies regarding hunger and malnutrition. She is also excited about the opportunity to live and intern in Washington, DC and grow her network and passion for public service.


Mirinda Keane

Mirinda Keane is a senior at the University of Maryland studying public health science. On campus, Mirinda has served on the executive board for Nourish, a club on campus dedicated to reducing poor birth outcomes in the surrounding community by donating groceries and corresponding recipes to mothers in need each week. This summer, Mirinda will be interning at Save the Children, where she will be working on the U.S. preparedness team, which supports children in times of disaster and educates on the importance of emergency preparedness. After her summer internship and graduation in the fall of 2018, Mirinda hopes to further her presence in the world of public health and make a difference for mothers and children across the globe.


Julia Mancini

Originally from Andover, Massachusetts, Julia Mancini is a rising senior at Vanderbilt University studying Spanish as well as human and organizational development with a concentration in community leadership and development. On campus, Julia has served as an ambassador for Vanderbilt’s new design thinking initiative and has led efforts to educate both faculty and the student body on applying human-centered design methodology to facilitate problem-solving and produce sustainable social change. She is also the co-chair for a student-led alternative break program that provides hundreds of students with engaging, educational week-long service experiences around the country. This summer, Julia will be interning with the corporate programs team at the American Red Cross, where she will support corporate sponsorship needs and investigate the transforming role of corporate and non-profit partnerships in the wake of a growing corporate social responsibility trend.


Jessica Reinert

Jessica Reinert is an Ada Comstock Scholar at Smith College pursuing a B.A. in American government and education. Prior to Smith College, she obtained her A.A. in Chicago, IL at Harold Washington College. As a non-traditional first-generation college student, it is her goal to ensure access to quality public education and college nationwide. In her free time, she volunteers with a non-profit organization on campus building a college readiness program to provide resources and workshops for youth locally. She hopes to continue her college readiness work with nonprofit organizations while working with the federal government to guarantee free community college for all. She will be interning in at the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area this summer to learn more about policy work, and advocating for higher learning.

Karla Robles-Martinez

Karla Robles is a senior at Loyola University Chicago, studying secondary education and Spanish. Prior to transferring to Loyola, Karla attended Harper College, a community college in Illinois in which she also fulfilled a year as an Americorps VISTA working on parent engagement and volunteer recruitment at an elementary school. Originally from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, she moved to Illinois at the age of eight. Because of her experiences as an immigrant and current DACA status, Karla is a strong advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and equitable resources for marginalized communities. This summer, she will be interning in the Office of Senator Richard J. Durbin (IL), where she hopes to represent women of color and learn more about policy and ways to teach her future students about the importance of being civically engaged.

Rana Thabata

Rana Thabata is a rising junior at Loyola University New Orleans, studying political science and economics. On campus, Rana serves as chief justice for her university’s student government and is a founding member and president of the Multicultural Leadership Council, a group that serves as a backbone of support for all diverse organizations on campus. She is an Ignacio volunteer, where she works with those with the greatest need and has the opportunity to explore the political and economic issues that have created the current socio-cultural climate.  This summer she will be interning at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center, the leading source for businesses dedicated to making a difference. Rana hopes to continue learning about how social entrepreneurship can affect positive social and public policy.