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Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows Class of 2019

Sofia Barnett

University of Chicago

Major: Political Science, Comparative Human Development

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

Activities: Philanthropy Chair - Kappa Alpha Theta: Executive Director of University Cup the University of Chicago’s largest student run fundraiser, raising $140,000 for CASA of Cook County. Executive Committee – Student Government:  manage student relations between administration and students, serve as a voice for undergraduate student life.  Crisis Director – Model United Nations: compete as a delegate to crisis committees across the country, and direct a committee at University of Chicago’s conference.

Capstone: Everyone deserves a means of expression; by laying out strategies for structured dance, and movement lessons for special needs individuals, schools and dance studios across the country can give a new language of expression to those who might be lacking one.

Derek Bixler

University of Oklahoma

Major: Letters major with a concentration in Constitutional Studies.

Hometown: Yukon, OK

Activities: I currently serve as the Vice President of the OU College Democrats, I volunteer as a classroom Democracy Coach for Generation Citizen, and I sit on the OU President's Community Scholars Advisory Council.

Capstone: For my capstone, I hope to create an honors course at OU focusing on civic engagement. Specifically, students would research civic engagement and hear from local speakers, while also volunteering for organizations focused on this issue.

Porter Bowman

Middlebury College

Major: International Politics and Economics (major), History (minor)

Hometown: Darien, CT

Activities: Middlebury Campus (newspaper) Correspondent to the Student Government Association; WRMC 91.1 (college radio station) host a political talk show; Alexander Hamilton Forum (political discourse initiative) student fellow

Capstone: Examining political discourse on college campuses and finding strategic opportunities and curricula to expand student forums for issue-based debates and conversations at Middlebury and beyond.

Caroline Carpenter

University of North Carolina - Chapel HIll

Major: Public Policy and Economics Minor: Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Hometown: Elon, NC

Activities: Everything I do is focused around my love for people. One of my most rewarding activities is being a Resident Advisor. In this position, I support a group of 32 first-year students as they transition to college and navigate through their first year. Part of my job includes creating programs and bulletin boards tailored towards their growth. As a Tar Heel Beginnings Board Co-Chair, I work with New Student and Family Programs to help first year and transfer students with their transition into Carolina. I co-lead a group of 8 other undergraduate students at creating and executing events that help ease the transition and connect new students to their peers and to campus resources. My position as an Institute of Politics internship coordinator allows me to help students with their transition into the “real world.” Each year, we offer around 20 summer positions that help students engage their passion for public service in a working environment. I facilitate partnerships with North Carolina organizations and offices and act as a liaison between interns and partners. 

Capstone: My capstone idea is to create a comprehensive trauma-reaction training for Resident Advisors at UNC-Chapel Hill in order to better support and serve students. 

Miranda Dotson

American University

Major: Anthropology & French 

Hometown: Highland Park, IL

Activities: A current student of Anthropology, Miranda has spent extensive periods abroad; learning the local ways of life in countries such as Morocco, Germany, France, and Iceland. She is a full-time student in Washington, D.C. and serves as an environmental organizer with the Sunrise Movement and Fossil Free American University, two youth-led organizations that advocate for a swift and just transition from a fossil fuel-based economy. She primarily likes to research environmentally and socially sustainable alternatives to global food and agriculture systems. 

Capstone: My Capstone Project will seek to provide a workshop space for young students and their families to gain hands-on learning experience to grow their own edible plants indoors and learn about sustainable consumption practices local to the Washington, D.C. area. 

Tawreak Eddington

Union College

Major: Political Science & History

Hometown: Springfield, MA

Activities: Vice-President of Union Pride, Community Service Chair of the Black Student Union & Mentor in the Schenectady My Brother's Keeper Program.

Capstone: My project will work with communities in my hometown of Springfield, MA and in Schenectady, NY to help develop initiatives that increase minority participation in the social sciences through mentorship. With the skills I've learned from working with marginalized youth, I will develop programs that work within pre-existing mentorship structures; teaching about the possibilities and economic feasibility of pursuing social science degrees and careers.


Liam Elkind

Yale University

Major: Ethics, Politics, and Economics; Global Affairs

Hometown: New York, NY

Activities: Yale College Democrats, Yale Drama Coalition, Yale Undergraduate Legal Aid

Capstone: Fighting for higher voter turnout by lobbying Connecticut and New York state legislatures to expand enfranchisement and engaging college students and other youth in voting.

Meghanlata Gupta

Yale University

Major: Anthropology

Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI

Activities: Bonding Coordinator for Association of Native Americans at Yale, House Staff Manager for the Native American Cultural Center, Communications Coordinator for Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative, and First-Year Leader for FOCUS on New Haven Program.

Capstone: Evaluating my tribal nation’s existing policies concerning substance abuse and addiction.

Bobby Isbell

St. Olaf College

Major: Political Science, Economics and Concentrations in Statistics and Data Science, Environmental Studies

Hometown: Plymouth, MN

Activities: Infielder for the St. Olaf Baseball team; I sing in choir at St. Olaf, participate in theater, and my family has its own bluegrass band; I am on the advisory council for St. Olaf’s new “Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community”, and serve on the Student Congregation Council. 

Capstone: Promoting inter-religious dialogue and awareness of climate change by exploring the connection between faith and the environment.


Shafaq Khan

Princeton University

Major: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Hometown: Elmont, NY

Activities: On campus, I serve as President of the College Democrats, and maintain involvement in the Religious Life Council, the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, and the Pace Center for Civic Engagement.

Capstone: In an increasingly polarized national campus culture, building bridges between different sensibilities and ways of thinking is of paramount importance. I hope to pursue a project that brings together ideas, people, and future possibilities for a more intellectually rich tradition of thinking about protracted problems in foreign policy.

Eliza Lafferty

Georgetown University

Major: Art History and Government and Minor in History

Hometown: Carlsbad, CA

Activities: Speaker of the Undergraduate Student Senate; Board of Directors Member of Students of Georgetown, Inc; Co-Chair of Georgetown’s Institute of Politics Student Leadership Council

Capstone: I hope to initiate a monthly lecture series at Georgetown that highlights the role of artists as public servants. At the lecture, three professors would each speak about one work of art in D.C. where the artist may be analyzed as a public servant, meaning, for example, that the artist elevates the voice of marginalized communities, shares alternative narratives, or asks viewers to re-assess initial assumptions.

Mitchell Palmertree

University of Mississippi

Major: Public Policy Leadership

Hometown: Winona, MS

Activities: Ole Miss Speech and Debate, Vice-chairman, Lott Advisory Board of the Trent Lott Leadership Institute, Sunflower County Freedom Project.

Capstone: To create an educational nonprofit modeled after the Sunflower County Freedom Project and conduct a summer program in my hometown of Winona, MS. I intend for this program to be a place where dreams and ambitions are fueled and acted on, ultimately working towards the dream of freedom in all regards.

Emily Schulze

Drury University

Major: Behavioral Neuroscience and Political Science

Hometown: Blue Springs, MO

Activities: I am an admissions intern, an orientation leader for new students, and student mentor for first generation college students like myself!

Capstone: I would like to create mental health guidelines for school-aged children to better facilitate action for those at-risk for mental illness and associated consequences. 

John Martin Weed

University of Alabama

Major: Political Science and Economics

Hometown: Mountain Brook, AL

Activities: University Fellows Experience, Blackburn Institute, Student Government Association

Capstone: Develop a community of first-year college students structured around value-based goal setting, practical mindfulness, and group discussion of philosophy, religion, and psychology.