Bennis Scholars Class of 2022: Cohort 5

Gurasees Bajaj

Gurasees Bajaj is a junior from Chicago majoring in health and human sciences with minors in health- related fields. With the goal of becoming a medical professional in the future, Gurasees’ academic interests lie in analyzing the sociological components and intersections of health in a community, such as food, housing, and education. In his free time, Gurasees enjoys cycling, watching the latest Oscar nominees, attempting to cook, and ranking the best places to eat in LA.

MacKenzie Boatman

MacKenzie Boatman is in her third year studying at the University of Southern California. She is an honors student majoring in urban studies and planning — with a focus in international development — and a minor in French. After graduating, MacKenzie hopes to work in the development of infrastructure in the Global South.

Abigail ‘AP’ Carter

AP Carter is a rising junior from San Antonio, Texas, majoring in environmental studies with an emphasis in marine research. At USC, she is involved in the Panhellenic community as a representative of the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority.  She loves to hike, scuba dive, fly airplanes, and as a member of ROTC, hopes to become an Air Force pilot upon graduation.

Kyra Chan

Kyra Chan is a rising junior and progressive degree candidate at USC majoring in public policy with an emphasis on social innovation and financial management. She is committed to making any place she touches better than when she found it. To do this, she will continue to jump into learning opportunities and hear people’s stories to educate herself on how the world could be more equitable.

Quinn Daly

Quinn Daly is a junior from Denver, Colorado, majoring in accounting. On campus, Quinn has been actively involved as a counselor for Troy Camp and a pro bono student consultant for nonprofits and social enterprises through Los Angeles Community Impact (LACI), where she currently serves as vice president of human resources. Quinn is particularly interested in the intersection of for-profit and nonprofit business practices and hopes to apply this approach to create effective, sustainable social change. In her free time, Quinn loves hiking, escaping to the beach, and searching for the perfect iced latte.

Abigail Erckenbrack

Abigail Erckenbrack is a junior from Alexandria, Virginia, studying public policy with a concentration in public policy and law. She currently serves as the senior aide to the Undergraduate Student Government president, a cadet within the USC Army ROTC program, an officer within Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and a member of Society 53. After graduating from USC, Abigail plans to commission as a Military Intelligence or Medical Service Corps Officer in the United States Army and, later on, earn her J.D./M.B.A. to start a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C.

Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee is a rising junior from San Marino, California, studying business administration and real estate finance with a computer programming minor. He is the co-founder and president of Family Business Society, co-founder and VP of finance for Trojan Capital Partners, and a fitness trainer for Trojan Steel. He has a passion for entrepreneurship, fine timepieces, boba blogging, traveling, and playing basketball and tennis.

Artie Levine

Artie Levine is a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in organizational leadership and management. On campus, he is president of the Southern California Trojans Fútbol Club and works as a second-year resident assistant. In his free time, he loves to play soccer, eat, and watch political dramas and soap operas.

Zazu Lippert

ZaZu Lippert is a junior from Malibu, California, majoring in public relations with minors in music production and digital studies honors. A dancer for over 18 years, she is the incoming director of the Chamber Ballet Company of USC, and has also created award-winning broadcasts as a radio producer for Annenberg Media’s Annenberg Radio News. In the summer of 2020, she collaborated on the launch of the USC Center for Public Relations’ podcast, #PRFuture, and will continue to contribute to the center’s research and operations in the 2020–2021 academic year as the recipient of the Noemi Pollack Scholarship.

Surya Nehra

Surya Nehra is a junior from Tracy, California, studying computer engineering with a minor in physics. He currently serves as co-president of Novus Think Tank, a USC organization devoted to generating positive social change in areas such as education, sustainability and others. Surya seeks to use technology as a means of advancing equity in accessibility to high-quality education.

Phuong Nguyen

Phuong Nguyen is a first generation immigrant from Viet Nam. She is studying economics and international relations with dreams of becoming an international arbitrator working between the U.S. and Asia Pacific. Phuong has ethically volunteered or taught English in China, Tibet, Viet Nam and Ecuador. Her superpowers are empathy and resilience.

Tommy Nguyen

Tommy Nguyen is a junior from Irvine, California, studying history and international relations. On campus, Tommy is the president of Unruh Associates, vice president of the History Student Association, and a trainer for USC Dornsife Admissions. Outside of these activities, Tommy is also a tutor for the Prison Education Project and a research assistant for the History and English departments. Plotting as many good dots as possible, Tommy hopes to build upon these experiences to attend law school and work for the intelligence community or serve the public.

Natalia Parraz

Natalia Parraz is a junior studying international relations, NGOs and social change and economics at the University of Southern California. Throughout her college career she has studied in Cuba, Chile and Washington D.C. Natalia’s ultimate goal is to work in women economic development in the Western Hemisphere.

Jack Rasmussen

Jack Rasmussen is an athlete turned storyteller who has a knack for connection, business strategy and philosophical debates. Born in Los Gatos, California, he is a Bay Area boy to his core and dreams of being a face for entertainment on TV or the big screen through sports or cinema. He recently founded a communication networking application and looks forward to teaching a class called “Thinking in 2020” as part of USC’s Shaukat Initiative.

Max Reed

Max Reed is a junior from Columbia, Maryland, on a pre-med track majoring in neuroscience with a minor in entrepreneurship. His passion for remedying racial and socioeconomic disparities in public education and health care led him to volunteer for organizations such as the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and the Orthopedic Institute for Children. Post-graduation, Max hopes to pursue a career in both medicine and health administration with a long-term goal of impacting public education and healthcare reform policy.

Ariana Sokolov

Ari Sokolov is a 19-year-old founder, designer and developer who has won national and international awards from the National Center of Women in Information Technology, the U.S. Congress, South by Southwest, Target, and Apple for her work. Currently, Ari is the CEO of the Trill Project, a mental health application with over 75,000 users. Ari is also the co-president of SparkSC, an entrepreneurship organization at USC.

Mia Speier

Mia Speier is a junior from Los Angeles, California, pursuing a master’s degree in public diplomacy, a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a minor in law and public policy. At USC, Mia is a Schaeffer Fellow in Government Service for her work with the U.S. Agency for Global Media, has interned at REVOLVE Media during her study abroad in Brussels, and was a fellow at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe during her semester in Washington, D.C. On campus, Mia is a tour guide for the USC Office of Admission, a vice president of Delta Phi Epsilon Foreign Service Society, the editorial and communication director for the USC Global Policy Institute, and a research assistant for Dr. Steven Lamy. She also serves as editor-in-chief of Glimpse from the Globe, USC’s international relations publication, and served two terms as the Daily Trojan’s news editor and Annenberg Media’s international desk editor. Mia is passionate about global affairs and media and hopes to make a positive change to U.S. foreign policy. But for now, she enjoys drinking coffee, listening to Paul Simon and haphazardly riding her bike around campus.

Sean Venegas

Sean Venegas is a junior from Dallas, Texas, pursuing a major in accounting and a minor in applied analytics. Prior to transferring to USC from Collin County Community College, Sean served with City Year as an AmeriCorps member in South Dallas. On campus, Sean is a mentor in several diversity and inclusion programs, such as the Leventhal Leadership Program and the Leventhal Transfer Program. Outside of campus, Sean sits on City Year Los Angeles’ alumni board, where he continues to be a passionate advocate for national service and education reform. In his free time, Sean enjoys running, camping and making playlists on Spotify.

Andy Wood

Andy Wood is a junior majoring in arts, technology, and the business of innovation, with an eye toward sustainability and a passion for reconnecting people to the natural world. At USC he can be found organizing the Green Engagement Fund through ESA, building new planter boxes for Garden Club, and researching aquaponics at the Wrigley Institute. After college, he hopes to pursue a career in sustainable food production and build systems that fight climate collapse while making fresh, nutritious, and locally grown food available to everyone.

Samantha Zhang

Samantha Zhang is a junior from Williamsburg, Virginia, double-majoring in applied mathematics and international relations global economy, with a minor in applied analytics. At USC, she serves as co-chair of Trojan Scholars Society, VP of Internal Affairs of Data Science Club, a Dornsife Ambassador, and a Peaks & Professors trip lead. She has spent the past two summers interning in data analytics at a travel startup company and The New York Times, hoping to spend her career using quantitative analysis to drive social change.