Kent DeBenedictis of Boca Raton, Florida, is majoring in International Relations and German. He has worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Policy branch and the U.S. Army European Headquarters. Kent also participated in an exchange program at the German Military Academy. The military positions he has held include Regimental Operations Officer, Company Commander, and Air Assault School Class Commander. A future Infantry officer, Kent plans to earn an MA in European Studies from the University of Birmingham to study the future of NATO and an MA in War Studies from King's College, London to study conflict and cooperation from a non-American, non-military perspective.
Rachel Denison, of St. Louis, MO, will graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University with a degree in Cognitive Science. Rachel combines research experience in topics from Alzheimer's disease to infant cognition with an interest in public health: she spent a summer studying approaches to autism in France and led Mind Matters, an undergraduate mental health group at Yale. Rachel has spoken at a national mental health conference, produced a television news program, and tutored elementary school students. She also enjoys playing violin. In the Oxford Neuroscience MSc program, Rachel will pursue her research interests in attention, awareness, and perception.
Scottsdale, Arizona resident Ajit Divakaruni will graduate from the University of Arizona in May of 2006 with a triple-major in Biochemistry, Mathematics and Molecular Biology. In addition to his work in mathematical modeling at Arizona, he has performed research in Cambridge, UK and at Yale University. Additionally, he has tutored mathematics at various Tucson high schools, spent a summer volunteering with at-risk youth in Romania, and has been active in numerous ambassadorial programs at the UA. Seeking to ultimately develop new therapies to combat diabetes and obesity, Divakaruni will pursue a PhD in Biochemistry from Cambridge University studying metabolic regulation.
Born in Murphysboro, Illinois, Patrick Dixon moved to New Mexico when he was two, and has been a New Mexican ever since. He will be graduating this spring from Occidental College, in Los Angeles, California, with a BA in Mathematics, after transferring from New Mexico State University in 2004. He spent Fall of 2005 studying Mathematics in Budapest, Hungary. He is part of Occidental's Debate Union, and in November traveled to Dublin to take part in an international debate tournament on behalf of Oxy. Patrick plans to pursue a MSc in Mathematical Biology at Oxford, before going on to pursue a career in public health policy.
Melissa Friedman, of Long Island New York, will pursue a DPhil in Atomic and Laser Physics at Oxford after graduating from Stony Brook University with a BS in physics. She began her studies in industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design. After deciding to major in physics, she enrolled at Nassau Community College. She received an associate's degree and transferred to Stony Brook University. Melissa's research has included work in the laboratories of Nobel Laureates Eric Cornell of JILA (Boulder, Colorado) and Theodor Haensch of MPQ (Garching, Germany).
Jamie Gianoutsos, of Amarillo, Texas, is completing a BA in Political Science and Great Texts at Baylor University. Chosen as Outstanding Student in both majors, Jamie focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to political philosophy. She is writing an honors thesis on John Locke's view of civic education, has published an article in a peer-reviewed journal, and co-authored an article in an encyclopedia. Jamie is Baylor's Electoral Commissioner, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, a classically trained pianist, and founder of Kappa Kappa Nu Medieval Honors Society. At Queen's University, Belfast, Jamie will read for a Master's degree in "Reconceiving the Renaissance." She also plans to earn a research Msc in Political Theory at the London School of Economics.
In 2004-5, Shadi Hamid was a Fulbright Fellow in Amman, Jordan, conducting research on Islamist participation in the democratic process. He was previously Legislative Fellow at the Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, where he worked on foreign affairs. His articles on US foreign policy and Arab politics have appeared, most recently, the Carnegie Endowment's Arab Reform Bulletin, The Christian Science Monitor, The Jerusalem Post, The Jordan Times, The Daily Star, and Insight Turkey. In 2004, Hamid was co-founder of Muslims for John Kerry as well as the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association. He has also served as an advisor on Muslim outreach for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the State Department. A David Boren Fellow, Hamid is completing his Master's degree at Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. At Oxford, he plans to pursue his D.Phil in Politics, focusing on the role of Islamist parties during democratic transitions.
Natalie graduated from American with a perfect record, receiving recognition for Outstanding Scholarship. She has studied on an NSEP Boren Scholarship in Morocco and conducted field research throughout the Middle East. Natalie interned for Senator Ron Wyden and the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, worked as a research assistant for publications, served as a teaching assistant for political philosophy and government courses, and co-captained a Conference-winning volleyball team. After graduating, she worked on the presidential campaign as an Oregon/Washington canvass director for the DNC and as a lead field organizer for MoveOn in Colorado. Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Institute for Kurds, which she co-founded with the Barzani family.
Mena Hanna, a Senior Music Composition major at the Boyer College of Music at Temple University, will be graduating May 2006 Summa Cum Laude. He was awarded a Diamond Scholars grant and an Undergraduate Research Incentive Fund Grant to support his travels to Italy in 2005 where he conducted the premieres of a composition on Italian television (RAI). In 2006, his compositions will be premiered in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angelos, and will be featured on an Asian tour. He will pursue a Mphil in Musicology at Oxford, where he is interested in studying non-western elements in modern music.
Ryan Haynes is graduating in three years from Georgia Tech in biomedical engineering focusing in neuroengineering and medical imaging. At Tech, he developed a system to locally release neurotransmitters onto cells to study the mechanisms behind learning and memory. At Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, he helped start a research collaboration between radiology and neuropsychology to correlate brain tissue atrophy with cognitive impairment in childhood epilepsy. In addition to research, he created software to help students master college calculus. Ryan will study at Cambridge for an MPhil in Nanotechnology Enterprise to help him turn basic science into life-saving medical solutions.
Jessica Hohman, of Copley, Ohio, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Miami University as a Harrison Scholar with degrees in Chemistry and History and a minor in Political Science in 2006. As a Marshall Scholar, she will pursue her MSc Health Policy, Planning, and Financing at LSE/LSHTM before attending Harvard Medical School. Selected as a member of the 2006 USA Today All-USA Academic First Team, Jessica served as an HIV/AIDS Test Counselor at the Free Clinic and was active on University Senate, the Honors Student Advisory Board, and Miami MED. Dedicated to achieving universal health care in this country, she has also taught a proseminar on US Health Policy, wrote an International Health Systems Primer for the American Medical Student Association, and interned at the Fogarty International Center.
Patrice Holderbach will graduate from Kansas State with a major in Print Journalism, secondary majors in International and American Ethnic studies and a Leadership Studies minor. Holderbach has studied in London, promoted tourism in western Kansas and taught English on the Yucatan. She has edited the Kansas State Collegian and reported for the Kansas City Star and Scripps Howard Foundation Wire in Washington, D.C. The Foundation recognized Holderbach as a nationwide "Top 10" scholar. With aspirations of becoming a foreign correspondent specializing in ethnic conflict, Holderbach plans to pursue degrees in migration studies at Oxford and development studies at Sussex.
Rebekah Hurt graduates in 2006 as a President's Scholar from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, having majored in English with a creative writing specialization. Her primary academic interests involve West African (especially Ghanaian) publishing development; she has presented her research most recently at the Reaching the Margins Conference, London. Rebekah is an administrator of SMU's publications Discourse and Hilltopics; a member of Phi Beta Kappa; a former NSHSS Student Council representative; a delegate to the Student Conference on National Affairs; a member of the Dedman College Dean search committee; and a Rotunda, National Merit, National Coca Cola, Presidential Freedom, Claes Nobel, Pascal Covici Jr., and Richter award-recipient. Rebekah will pursue studies in African literature and post-colonial critical theory at the University of Birmingham.