Link to AHF recipients archive

2021 Fellowship Recipients

2021 Astronaut Scholarship

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was established in 1984 as the Mercury Seven Foundation by the six surviving members of America’s original Mercury Seven astronauts. This year ASF has awarded 60 scholarships to students from 44 different universities across the nation. Astronaut Scholarships are awarded to students in their junior and senior year of college studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics with the intent to pursue research or advance their field upon completion of their final degree. Astronaut Scholars are among the best and brightest minds in STEM who show initiative, creativity, and excellence in their chosen field.

Leena Mathur is an undergraduate pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science, and a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics. Leena’s goal is to advance research in human-centered artificial intelligence (AI), and her undergraduate research has spanned a variety of projects in this area. Leena joined USC as a Presidential Scholar with a strong interest in robotics and AI. She started research as a freshman in Professor Maja Matarić’s Interaction Lab in USC’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center. In the Interaction Lab, she has created computational models to advance machine perception of human behaviors and emotional states. Her independent undergraduate thesis research, funded by USC Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fellowships, has been published and presented at 3 conferences. Her research in computational models of behavior and emotion is continuing this summer through a research fellowship at Caltech. Leena has conducted research in USC’s Linguistics Department with Professor Khalil Iskarous to develop machine learning and speech signal processing algorithms to preserve endangered languages. She has led an interdisciplinary research collaboration between the student branch of USC’s Center for AI in Society (CAIS++) and USC’s biomedical student organization to develop machine learning approaches that detect Alzheimer’s dementia in speech. Leena has also conducted research in Switzerland at the School of Computer Science at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Summer 2019. At USC, she holds significant campus leadership roles. Leena works as a Resident Assistant for first-year students in residential colleges. She has also led 160+ students in CAIS++ as the President (2020-2021), VP of Projects (2019-2020), VP of Outreach (2018-2019), and technical project lead (2018-present). She has worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant in USC’s Computer Science Department, and she has participated in many STEM outreach activities for USC and its surrounding K-12 communities. Leena aspires to pursue a research career in human-centered AI, after pursuing a PhD in Computer Science.

2021 Boren Scholarship

Boren Scholarships provide funding for rigorous language study in exchange for a commitment to work in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

Bryant Cong won the Boren Scholarship to Indonesia to study Indonesian for the 2021-2022 grant year.  Bryant is a senior earning a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a Bachelor of Science in Economics/Mathematics.

Sophia Norton was awarded a Boren Scholarship to study Arabic in Jordan. Sophia is a senior working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Middle East Studies with minors in Economics and Arabic.

Maya Prakash will use the Boren Scholarship to travel to Jordan to study Arabic.  Maya is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations (Global Business) and Economics with a minor in Middle East Studies.

Emma Taylor won a Boren Scholarship to study Russian in the Ukraine.  Emma is a senior earning a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with a minor in Russian.

Long Tran will travel to China for the summer to study Mandarin on the Boren Scholarship. Long is a junior and member of Air Force ROTC majoring in Electrical Engineering with minors in Applied Analytics and Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence.

Electrical Engineering with minors in Applied Analytics and Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence.

2021 Critical Language Scholarship Recipients

The Critical Language Scholarship is a competitive program for 8-10 weeks of intensive language study in one of fifteen critical need languages. This year, 27 USC students applied. 4 were selected as Finalists to receive the scholarship.

  • Samir Alam, Graduate Student – Bangla
  • Jesus Fernandez, Graduate Student – Arabic
  • Melissa Tungare, Undergraduate Student – Chinese
  • Philippa Zhang, Undergraduate Student – Arabic

2021 Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs.

Jack Bekos will graduate in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a minor in Legal Studies. Jack was awarded a Fulbright ETA grant to Spain, where he will be placed in a Madrid high school classroom to teach English and lead students in a yearlong Global Classrooms (Model United Nations) project. He plans to pursue a career in law, focusing on issues in immigration, human rights, and social justice.

Marigrace Buendia will graduate December 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Studies and a Master of Science in Global Medicine.  Marigrace received a Fulbright research grant to analyze the role of community health volunteers called barangay health workers, in providing primary mental health care in the Philippines.  This project will inform her future career in international health research and mental health care initiatives.

Elaine Huang will graduate in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and Master of Science in Global Medicine. Elaine was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to Taiwan, and she plans to attend medical school, focusing on issues of health equity and education.

Eva Isakovic graduated in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. She was awarded a Boren Scholarship to Belgrade, Serbia and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina to learn the local language. While abroad, she founded The BUREK Initiative, an empirical oral history organization collecting and statistically analyzing testimony from the Yugoslav wars. The BUREK Initiative earned her the USC Global Scholar Prize. In October, she will return to Sarajevo with a Fulbright Research Grant for a project on mapping the long-term effects of the Bosnian War. She plans to pursue a career in federal service and research working to improve Balkan democratization and ethnic reconciliation policy.

Arif Khan is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Cinematic Arts, Film and Television Production.  Arif will travel to Japan on a research grant as a creative artist in filmmaking.  His project entitled, “Living Under the Shadow” is an interdisciplinary Film/VR documentary about the 2011 Fukushima accident on its 10th anniversary. The project will use film and VR (virtual reality) to take viewers to the heart of Fukushima and meet the survivors living in the shadow of the crisis today.  After Fulbright, he plans to continue working as a VR producer, focusing on projects that use VR to increase awareness on key global issues like nuclear energy and climate change.

Charlene Lam completed a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and a minor in Sociology in May 2020. Charlene will teach secondary school students in South Korea as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. She hopes to offer improve classes and work on her students’ English in creative ways both inside and outside of the classroom. Upon her return to the United States, she plans to pursue a Master of Arts in International Affairs

Lindsay Opie will graduate in May 2021 with a B.S. in Public Policy with an emphasis on Nonprofits and Social Innovation, with a minor in Occupational Science. Lindsay was honored with the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant in Uruguay, where she will work with students from second grade to the university level. She looks forward to exploring the implications of rural education and working closely with the international partnerships Fulbright offers to examine education policy and equity for students of diverse backgrounds.

Tiffany Wong graduated December 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Languages and Cultures. Tiffany is the recipient of a Fulbright graduate degree grant and will pursue an International Master’s Program in Asia-Pacific Studies at National Chengchi University in Taiwan.  After Fulbright she plans to pursue a career in journalism, focusing on Asian American issues with the ultimate goal of becoming a foreign correspondent.

2021 Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Each year the Gates Cambridge Scholarship offers full-cost scholarships to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. The Gates Cambridge mission is to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.

David Jun Lee completed a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations at USC in 2017 and went on to complete a Master of Arts in Asian Studies at Georgetown University in 2020.  David has 5 years of experience in t

he US government having covered diverse Northeast Asian security and foreign policy issues alongside areas such as news & data analysis. Able to both study and work concurrently as an undergraduate, David gained valuable experience in the arena of national security early on, which has provided him with a balanced and multidimensional perspective combining both academic and policy viewpoints. David plans to pursue a PhD in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. His graduate research will involve analyzing primary sources such as government documents in 5-6 different languages and continuing to explore Northeast Asia security and foreign policy dynamics, with a particular focus on the Korean Peninsula.

2021 Gilman Scholar Recipients

The Gilman Scholarship offers awards for U.S. undergraduates to study or intern abroad. The program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go.

Cycle 1 – October 2020 Deadline

  • Lindsay Batista – New Zealand
  • Lingaire Ofosuhene – Ghana

Cycle 2 – March 2021 Deadline

  • Amber Butler – United Kingdom
  • Dustin Do – Singapore
  • Sarah Estrada – South Korea
  • Rehanna Fikre – Italy
  • Michelle Gong – South Korea
  • An Nguyen – Spain
  • Regan Omalley – Austria
  • My Tam Tran – South Korea
  • Madina Zermeno – United Kingdom

2021 Goldwater Scholarship

The Goldwater Scholarship provides support to undergraduate students majoring in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.

Bryson Choy is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Biology in partnership with a Master of Science in Quantitative and Computational Biology. Bryson sought out research experience early on as a freshman at USC’s Bridge Institute within the Katritch Group. Bryson received the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship three times over – as well as the Dornsife Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship to fund his research. Bryson was a visiting researcher at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center conducting research on therapies for neuroblastoma. He is co-authoring multiple publications for his projects in the Katritch, Ko’omoa-Lange, and Padula Groups and has submitted his work to a national conference for biomedical informatics. Ultimately, Bryson plans to pursue a PhD in computational biology and conduct computational drug discovery research as a professor, as well as bridge the gap between academia and industry to improve the way we treat chronic and incurable diseases.

Haoda “Harry” Wang is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and Computer Science. Haoda was admitted to USC on a Presidential Scholarship, a competitive merit scholarship for entering freshmen. Arriving with a strong interest in research, Haoda became a research assistant at USC’s Information Sciences Institute his freshman year. There, he developed a system to detect and mitigate low-rate denial of service attacks and DNS flood attacks. While interning at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Haoda developed flight software simulation tools which found fatal bugs in the Mars 2020 rover. He is participating in a DARPA-funded project with USC’s Information Sciences Institute working on extracting natural mathematical expressions from low-level logic in cyber-physical systems. He is also currently working on independent research towards a senior project on high speed emulation of FPGA network cards. Haoda aspires to obtain a PhD in computer science and conduct systems research in national labs or academia.

2 Trojans awarded prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

2021 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.


  • Shanna Dobson – Mathematical Sciences
  • Natalie Khalil – Biomedical Engineering
  • Tyler LaBonte – Machine Learning
  • Diana LaFollette – Materials Engineering

Honorable Mentions

  • Jordan Bretzfelder – Sedimentary Geology
  • Zane Durante – Artificial Intelligence
  • Alexander Maertens – Sustainable Chemistry
  • Emily Meschke – Neurosciences
  • Emily Nixon – Ecology
  • Shehan Parmar– Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Andrew Szot – Machine Learning
  • Vickie Trinh – Neurosciences
  • Emily Waggoner – Chemical Oceanography
  • Ringo Huang – Cognitive Psychology

2021 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program

The Pickering Fellowship offers a unique opportunity to promote positive change in the world.  Upon successful completion of a two-year master’s degree program and fulfillment of Foreign Service entry requirements, fellows have the opportunity to work as Foreign Service Officers in accordance with applicable law and State Department policy, serving in Washington, DC and at a U.S. embassy, consulate, or diplomatic mission around the globe.   Fellows also agree to a minimum five-year service commitment in the Department of State’s Foreign Service.  The five-year service commitment begins upon entry into the Foreign Service.   Based on the fundamental principle that diversity is a strength in our diplomatic efforts, the program values varied backgrounds, including ethnic, racial, social, and geographic diversity.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Betty Thai is a first-generation Chinese American studying Political Science and East Asian Languages and Cultures at Dornsife. She is also pursuing a Master Studies in Law through the Progressive Degree Program. She is also highly active on-campus: Former Chapter President and Current Director of Programming of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, Staff Writer for US-China Today, USC First Generation Mentor, and more.

Betty became inspired to pursue a career in Foreign Service after completing a semester abroad at Peking University as a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar. The Pickering Fellowship will be her next step after graduating this May, pursuing a 2-year Master’s degree related to Foreign Service and completing a domestic and international internship with the US Department of State. Upon graduating, she will enter the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer, representing the U.S. for a minimum of 5 years. Betty looks forward to this next chapter, hoping to create policies advocating for underserved communities worldwide.

From USC student to the U.S. Foreign Service

2021 CSPC Presidential Fellows Program

One USC student is selected annually by the University for the CSPC Presidential Fellows program, a year-long program to complete research relating to

the study of the U.S. Presidency and Congress. Fellows also participate in three-day leadership conferences in Washington, D.C. during the Fall and Spring semesters.

Evelyn Camacho ’21 is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a progressive degree in Public Administration. Evelyn was nominated as the University’s CSPC Presidential Fellow in August 2020.

2021 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship

The Rangel Graduate Fellowship is a program that aims to attract and prepare outstanding young people for careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State in which they can help formulate, represent and implement U.S. foreign policy. The Rangel Program selects outstanding Rangel Fellows annually in a highly competitive nationwide process and supports them through two years of graduate study, internships, mentoring, and professional development activities. This program encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, women, and those with financial need.

Carolina Cortez was raised in Sutter Creek, California, and she received her Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California in 2018.  As a student, she completed a semester abroad in Spain.  She also interned for the California Governor’s Office in Sacramento, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and on Capitol Hill through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s summer internship program.  Following graduation, Carolina relocated to Washington D.C. to work in the United States Senate for vice-president-elect Kamala Harris before accepting the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals Fellowship to help foster transnational partnerships between American and German businesses. Carolina currently works for an NGO in Mexico, helping bridge the technology and education gap for Central American asylum-seeking students living at the border.

Carolina’s journey has now led her to the Rangel Fellowship, and she is excited to prepare for her career in diplomacy after she obtains a Master’s Degree in economic development. Carolina is proud to be a Rangel Fellow and a future Foreign Service Officer.  She added, “I am thankful for the tremendous support I’ve received throughout my life, specifically from my parents, Ramon and Rosario Cortez, family, Mrs. Lara Eichman from Amador High School, Professor Carol Wise from USC, and my Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and Kappa Delta Chi Sorority Inc. family.”

Rangel fellowship offers alumna hands-on (and around-the-world) training

2021 Rotary Global Grant Recipient

Rotary Global Grants provide funds for a service project and graduate-level study or research in another country. Students must pursue studies in one of Rotary’s six Areas of Focus.

Alyssa Scharpf graduated summa cum laude from USC in 2015, with a B.A. in Economics and a B.A. in International Relations. While at USC, her passion for international development continued to grow beyond her coursework, and she volunteered on microfinance projects in Honduras and Ghana. After graduating, Alyssa worked as a Financial Analyst in commercial banking at Wells Fargo. Alyssa was selected for a 2021 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship by the Westwood Village Rotary Club. As a Rotary Scholar, she will continue her studies at the London School of Economics, where she will pursue a Masters in Development Studies. Her dissertation will concentrate on the role of debt financing in community economic development.

2021 Knight-Hennessy Scholarship Recipients

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program cultivates a diverse, multidisciplinary com-munity of emerging leaders from around the world and guides them to collaborate, innovate, and communicate as they prepare to address the complex challenges facing society. Knight-Hennessy Scholars become part of a supportive family of fellow scholars. Through the King Global Leadership Program, scholars will broaden knowl-edge, develop skills, and strengthen character. Knight-Hennessy Scholars also receive funding to pursue graduate study at Stanford University.

Jeremy Pathmanabhan, from Fremont, California, is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and has a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of California, Irvine. Jeremy plans to merge his public sector experience and MBA education to build a business that will advance society toward a carbon neutral future. Since graduating from USC, he has worked for the City of Los Angeles, overseeing the inception and growth of the City’s Climate Action Program.

Héctor Reyes, from Bayamón, Puerto Rico, is pursuing a JD at Stanford Law School and a PhD in economics at Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences. He completed a bachelor of science in economics and mathematics at the University of Southern California (USC). Hector plans to serve and advocate for Puerto Rico by becoming a university professor, economic adviser, and think tank leader on the island. He developed an early interest in economics after witnessing his compatriots struggle to overcome Puerto Rico’s decade-long recession. Hector began his college career at Valparaiso University as a student-athlete on the track and field team, and transferred to USC in the fall of 2017. There, he served as a lab director managing a team of 20 research assistants at the Lab on Non-Democratic Politics in the USC Dornsife School of International Relations. Upon graduation, he became a fellow of the PhD Excellence Initiative at New York University.

2 USC grads named Knight-Hennessy Scholars

2021 Schwarzman Scholarship Recipients

Designed to prepare young leaders to serve as a bridge between China and the rest of the world, Schwarzman Scholars is the first scholarship created to respond to the geopolitical landscape of the 21st Century. The program offers the world’s best and brightest students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and professional networks through a fully-funded one-year Master’s Degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Benjamin (Ben) Ma is a Trustee Scholar and Viterbi Engineering Fellow at the University of Southern California, pursuing a dual degree Bachelor/Master of Science in Computer Science. He is an accomplished research scholar and has presented his work on music emotion recognition internationally. His novel experiments on characteristic enjoyment patterns in music have been covered by global news outlets such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Hindustan Times. He also serves as Captain and Community Outreach Director on the USC Ultimate Frisbee team. He hopes to connect the world-leading AI communities of China and the U.S. through music.

Trenton Van Stone is a Daniels Scholar at the University of Southern California, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Relations Global Business and Philosophy. He is the University of Southern California’s youngest and first openly gay Student Body President. Trenton provides pro-bono consulting services to local nonprofits as a Director of Los Angeles Community Impact. Previously, he represented the United States at a business competition in Malaysia, was a USC Global Fellow in Hong Kong, and performed political research at Cambridge University. Moving forward, Trenton hopes to drive foreign investment as a mutually-beneficial means of improving communities.

2 Trojans receive prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship to study in Beijing